274 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
dra, who has just completed her master’s degree at the London School of Economics.
Alexandra plans to pursue a career assisting Third World countries
on matters of public health and food production. Kelly was so proud of her.
After graduating from law school in 1985, Kelly articled with Harman &
Company, then known as Harman Wilson & Company. Her principal was
Don Johannessen, who had coincidentally been one of Kelly’s high school
teachers before he made the switch into practising law. Don was always
impressed by Kelly and thought her an extremely bright student. Kelly
stayed on at Harman Wilson to practise family law and rose quickly to partnership
in the firm. She soon became regarded as a leading “senior” family
law lawyer. To the younger female lawyers in the Victoria bar, she served as
a professional role model.
Harman Wilson then merged with the venerable Crease & Company
(which traced its roots back to 1866) to form Crease Harman & Company,
now Crease Harman LLP. When Crease Harman lawyer Bob McKay passed
away while working at his desk, Kelly inherited his wills and estate practice,
which she added to her family law practice. She became very proficient in
both areas of law, and her clients became very attached to and reliant on her
as their personal advisor. As part of that wills and estates practice, Kelly
became the estate lawyer for Miss Winnifred Scott, the former, formidable
headmistress of Kelly’s alma mater, Norfolk House School. They became
very close and Kelly handled all of Miss Scott’s legal affairs until Miss Scott’s
death well into her 90s.
Kelly also served for several years as the key contact between the partnership
and the law firm staff, holding regular general staff meetings. Her
no-nonsense but personally sympathetic manner was very effective in this
role. Her former law partner Lawrie Spooner writes:
I watched Kelly mature professionally over the years with the highest
level of professionalism. KAW was never reticent about expressing her
firm opinions, and I recall her once expressing annoyance with the practice
of organizing public luncheon events and arranging for a mandatory
grace to be said before the meal. When Kelly inherited the Salvation
Army as a client after the deaths of some of the more senior lawyers in
the firm, she showed her professional adaptability and flexibility in more
than accommodating the client. She sat on the Community Advisory
Board and publicly solicited donations standing beside a Salvation Army
Christmas kettle in a downtown mall. As an Advisory Board director for
many years, she had the responsibility to fill a table at the Salvation
Army’s annual Christmas outreach luncheon to the business community,
and Kelly usually conscripted me and my mother and sometimes friends
of my mother and any other available lawyers. Her table was always full.
As anyone who practises in the field will tell you, family law is not easy.
Kelly fought hard for her clients and achieved great results. In the early