Carl Jonsson (LLB '58)

Class of 1958

UBC Law School alum Carl Jonsson has been dedicated to practicing law for an impressive 64 years. Born and raised in Port Alberni, a small city on Vancouver Island, his legal journey began while he was still a high school student. 

With his high school principal lamenting the fact that none of the school’s recent graduates had gone on to law school, Carl was offered the opportunity to begin shadowing the school board’s chairman, who was also a practicing lawyer. The experience solidified Carl’s decision to pursue a legal career. “I was very fortunate that the principal and chairman picked me and introduced me to the law,” he says. 

When Carl began law school, the law building – since demolished and replaced by Allard Hall – was one of the newest buildings on campus, replacing army huts previously used to accommodate the influx of veterans returning from WWII. Carl's first-year class consisted of just over 100 students, with only four women and six law professors, including the dean. Carl graduated from law school in 1958 near the top of his class.

After articles, Carl was called to the bar in 1959 and started work at a corporate law firm. Subsequently his work primarily involved helping companies in the process of listing on the stock exchange and assisting with filing prospectuses and business incorporation. The majority of Carl’s clientele were involved in mineral exploration, and Carl went on to specialize in securities law, focusing on the mining oil and gas sector. His extensive experience earned him a well-developed reputation overseas, affording him the opportunity to travel for his practice. Clients invited him to join their boards, where he furthered his knowledge and experience in the oil, gas and mining sector. Carl also served as the board chair for a small mining company, which gave him an opportunity to showcase his expertise in the sector- including travelling to Harare to successfully initiate the negotiation of an Indigenization agreement with the Zimbabwe government for the company's Zimbabwe gold mine. 

Carl feels that the practice of law has changed significantly since he first started out. “The law today is a lot more bureaucratic; the court system used to be much smaller and people knew each other,” he says. The cost of accessing legal services has also become exorbitant, he adds, with more people now turning to mediation and arbitration services in an effort to save money. 

As a law student, Carl often travelled on weekends to meet the woman who is now his wife. He boarded his first-ever flight on a trip to Victoria with great trepidation. “That started my love of flying and ultimately a love of travel,” he says. Since then, Carl and his wife travel whenever possible. He fondly recalls meeting the great-nephew of Winston Churchill while on a trip to London – and being invited by an English Peer to lunch in the House of Lords dining room.

Carl’s advice to young lawyers is to gain a diverse range of experience so that when they later go on to specialize, they have transferable problem-solving skills. Before Carl specialized in securities law, his firm had him doing a general practice – an experience he found to be valuable later in his career.

Nearing retirement, Carl shares that he has had “a very satisfying career,” which has made the practice of law the perfect choice for him. “After more than 60 years, I’m still doing it part-time and wish I could carry on forever” he says.

UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Menu Three horizontal lines indicating a menu. Minus A minus sign. Telephone An antique telephone. Plus A plus symbol indicating more or the ability to add. Search A magnifying glass. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service.