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was well known for his ingenious and sometimes unusual defences. Al was
always prepared and ready for battle, if a battle was necessary to defend his
clients. His long experience in assembling complex cases as a prosecutor
gave him the ability to disassemble them with equal effectiveness.
From 1990 through 1996, Al practised law with Wayne Stilling, Harvey
Blackmore and Rose Raven, now Judge Raven of the B.C. Provincial Court.
The firm was called Stilling, Blackmore, Raven and Hoem (“SBRH”). Criminal
defence lawyer Paul Del Rossi also shared space with them for most of
those years. Their stylish offices were located on King George Highway and
76th Avenue before the arrival of big box developments like Costco.
Judge Raven recalls thinking that Al was a serious and gruff person when
she first met him in 1990. She had very limited experience in criminal law,
and Al rarely touched a family file, so she wondered how this arrangement
would work out. She describes how her first impressions were quickly
defeated: “I soon found out he was a humble and perceptive man, with a
generous spirit.” Although he was the most senior member of SBRH, he
insisted on putting his name last on the letterhead. Soon after SBRH signed
a five-year lease for the space, Judge Raven was encouraged to apply to the
Provincial Court. When Al found out about this, he invited Rose to join him
for a drink at the local pub and convinced her to wait for five years before
she applied. As a result, she delayed her application. She remembers that
this was the first (but not the last) time that she realized just how persuasive
Al could be.
SBRH thrived in large measure due to the warm and collegial environment
the partners created. Judge Raven recalls that all of the staff at the firm
loved Al. On Friday afternoons, at the close of the day, Al often hosted a
spontaneous social event in the boardroom. At the firm’s annual holiday
party in December, Al was Santa Claus. During the summer, the entire office
would go on retreats involving transportation by limousines and fun outdoor
activities like river rafting and horseback riding. Al could be counted on to
be adventurous, especially where water was concerned. During one such
retreat, he went for a swim in False Creek. Not long after, Al met his match
in the water adventure category when, at another office event, Linda, his
soon-to-be wife, fully clothed, jumped into his arms in a pool.
Al met Linda on a blind date in 1992. She and Al shared a passion for life,
adventure and golf. It was a joyous occasion for everyone when they married
in 1997 in Ladner. They spent many years travelling and golfing
together in a variety of places. One of the highlights included a trip to Norway,
Al’s ancestral home.
When Paul Del Rossi first approached the firm, he had a formal meeting
with Harvey Blackmore, Rose Raven and Wayne Stilling to discuss staffing,