North Vancouver law firm Lakes, Whyte LLP has started a new chapter in its long history by opening its bright new offices at 1312 Lonsdale, in the heart of North Vancouver’s business district. In doing so, it has come full circle to the neighbourhood where it started, back in 1986.
Two of its two longest-serving lawyers look back.
John Whyte is the firm’s senior litigation lawyer. Since bringing his legal practice to North Vancouver in 1999, John has seen his firm evolve from a small collection of individual law practices into the dynamic forward-looking full-service law firm that it is today.
“When I came in I was the fourth lawyer in the firm and the youngest by far. Even back then our role was to serve the people of the North Shore by helping them solve their legal problems. Today I advise local people on how to resolve their contractual and real estate disputes, serious injury cases, estate disputes and even issues over property lines and trees. As the legal needs of the North Shore are varied, so every day at the office is different. It’s always exciting.”
At one time, that service to the community included the responsibility for prosecuting local drug cases. John recalls, “When I started, all of our prosecution files fit into one box. Within a few years we had five lawyers flying all over the province to represent the Crown”.
Lakes, Whyte LLP moved on from drug prosecutions in early 2015, to focus instead on serving the people of the North Shore with their private legal needs.
All of its lawyers also serve the community by lending their legal expertise to the boards of directors of community organizations, from the Connexions Society to the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. John says “the North Shore non-profit sector is important to us. We expect our lawyers to use their legal skills outside the office to give back to the community that we serve every day in the office.”
John Lakes founded Lakes, Whyte LLP in 1986 in central Lonsdale, just a half block away from its new offices, under the name Lakes, Straith & Rodgers.
“Many of the challenges North Shore people faced in the ‘80s and ‘90s were different than what we face today”, John recalls. “In the 80s, it was high mortgage interest rates and foreclosures. Today it’s the damage to people’s livelihoods from Covid-19. Whatever the challenge, we’ve been here in good times and in bad times and we will be in the future.”
“Since we started 34 ½ years ago we have run a community-based business. Our lawyers live on the North Shore. We have raised our families here, and become involved in our children’s schooling, sports teams, and community organizations. We’re now getting to know the second and sometimes third generations of the North Shore families who I first met in the 1980s.”
Today, John is one of North Vancouver’s longest-serving solicitors, with decades of experience in preparing wills and helping executors to administer estates, as well as advising clients in small business and real estate matters.
John sees the firm which he founded striding confidently into the future. As he says, “When you stand still, you fall behind.”