434 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 3 MAY 2021
music, reading, following the news and hanging out with friends. If you
dropped in, the Kinks or the Police would be playing. Dale would make coffee
or open beer, and you would talk about a film, a novel, current events
or a poem. Dale’s favourite pastime was challenging conversation with a
friend, seasoned with laughter. He called such comfortable discourse “intimate
Dale preferred the company of one person at a time. This proclivity
became more obvious later in life. If Dale invited you for lunch or a drink,
you risked annoying him if you invited a third person. Dale drew people
out, but revealed little. He was discreet. Dale was a best friend to many, but
he told them little about one another.
In summer 1980, I suggested we start a practice. I figured two lawyers
could make $120,000/year. Once we got established, we’d recruit a third
partner. Then, each could work just eight months of the year and make
$40,000, a handsome income. Dale smiled, took a drag on his cigarette, and
said nothing. When 1980 ended, I was living in Montreal and hadn’t spoken
with Dale for some months. At about 2 a.m., Dale phoned to wish me happy
New Year. Casually, Dale said, “Why don’t you come back and we’ll try it?”
In May 1981, we hung up the “Banno & Mitchell” shingle. We leased 656 ft2
in the new building at 1166 Alberni Street and hired Grace Doorman as our
assistant. We introduced ourselves as a corporate commercial boutique. We
borrowed $12,000 to buy an IBM Displaywriter. It had a screen! The software
was baked into the hardware. It was loud, but it could type even faster
It was a bad time to start our practice; we signed our lease as the economy
took a downturn. We were no boutique; in those first few years, we
took any work we could get. The price of the Displaywriter was more than
we made over our first two years.
Early in 1983, Dale, Grace and I joined Ken Danderfer and his team to
form Danderfer, Banno & Mitchell. In December 1983, our group joined
with Ron Wilson, Larry Candido and their two secretaries. We all moved to
the 26th floor of the Royal Centre at 1055 West Georgia Street as Wilson,
Danderfer, Banno & Mitchell. The next year, Ray Schachter joined us. In
1988, we moved to 1075 West Georgia Street. A bit later, Dale’s fellow charades
champion, Shael Smith, joined the firm.
Dale never cared about money. Recording time and billing were tedious,
but he cared about serving his clients. And he was ingenious, often developing
novel solutions to real estate practice problems.
In the mid-’80s, a firm of real estate brokers asked Dale for a listing agreement.
It was customary (and still is) for the buyer’s lawyer to pay the bro-