Donald J Sorochan, QC

Class of 1970-1971

Donald J. Sorochan obtained his BA from the University of Alberta in 1966. Following graduation he was employed by Canadian Pacific Airways at the Edmonton Airport. Enrolling at the University of British Columbia to study law in 1968, he remained employed with the company at the Vancouver Airport. He graduated with his LL.B. in 1971 and obtained articles at Swinton & Company in Vancouver, the predecessor of Miller Thomson. He would spend his entire career in practice with the firm, and served two terms as managing partner (1981-1984, 1996-2000). He also continued to serve as Managing Partner of the firm's British Columbia and Yukon offices from the merger with Miller Thomson in 2000 until January 2009.

Mr. Sorochan's built an extensive practice over his career, encompassing expertise in the areas of securities, aboriginal, commercial and construction litigation, administrative law, and criminal law. Initially, he began his career supported by his experience in the airline industry, representing carriers in regulatory proceedings before the Canadian Transport Commission. He also represented those same carriers in litigation matters and provided legal services for the acquisition and consolidation of several British Columbia air carriers.

Early in his career, he was counsel for a couple cases which changed the administration of criminal punishments. The first, in 1973, was a case challenging the constitutional validity of certain federal sentencing provisions related to young offenders. The case was successful and the government was forced to repeal the challenged provisions of the Prisons and Reformations Act. As a result of this case, Mr. Sorochan was asked to represent numerous prisoners who had been confined for lengthy periods of time in the solitary confinement unit of the BC Penitentiary. The case resulted in a Federal Court declaration that the prisoners had been subject to cruel and unusual punishment, resulting in significant changes to prison conditions and procedures.

Donald Sorochan has continued to concern himself the the state of Penitentiaries by serving on the board of the Western Correctional Association, and as president of the BC Corrections Association. His belief in strong civilian oversight of the criminal justice system supported his role as a Founding Director of the Canadian Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. He also ensured the integrity of policing in BC through his role as Counsel to the BC Police Commission, the oversight body for policing in BC and the appeal body for police discipline hearing and citizen complaint appeals.

Another significant portion of Mr. Sorochan's practice involved complex securities litigation and complex construction litigation. Some of Sorochan's interesting cases in these areas included representing a financial institution in the longest and most complex hearing to date before the BC Securities Commission, representing a tunneling contractor in matters regarding tunneling for a rail line for the Tumbler Ridge Coal Project, and representing a major electrical contractor at all levels of the courts in regards to the construction of a transmission line. His career has also included work as a criminal lawyer, defending those accused of crimes as well as handling prosecutions for the Attorneys General of Canada and British Columbia. As a prosecutor he has argued extradition hearing of Canadian fugitives in foreign jurisdictions, as well as major narcotics trafficking and conspiracy cases, and complex bankruptcy fraud cases.

Donald Sorochan has always retained his academic passion, and is a frequent lecturer on legal topics. From 1989 - 1998 he was an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law at UBC, and in the 2010s served as a mentor and advisor to the school's Innocence Project. Sorochan was also a member of the founding Board of Directors of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, created in 1978.

Sorochan has served on countless commissions and boards of inquiry. He was a Regional Community Board Member for the National Parole Board of Canada, Commission Counsel to the Inquiry into Habitual Criminals in Canada, a representative for inmates at hearings of the Royal Commission on Incarceration of Females in B.C., a CBA Consultant to the Law Reform Commission of Canada, and a delegate to the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, to name a few. He is also a founding member of the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law, an international body which studies and makes proposals for the reform of the criminal law. His involvement with this body has also led to the founding of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy, an institute located at Allard Hall. The Centre currently awards a scholarship named in honour of Mr. Sorochan.

Personally, Sorochan is an active supporter of youth sporting activities, especially hockey and baseball. He is a Referee for minor hockey, and has been league manager. He is also a baseball umpire and president of the Mount Seymour Little League. He was appointed to Queen's Counsel in 1990.

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