Gord Putnam appointed provincial judge

gord putnam

Above: Samantha Huculak (left) will take over as Managing Partner of  Putnam Law LLP. from Gord Putnam (right). Putnam has accepted an appointment as a provincial judge effective June 1.

 

by Stephen Dafoe

After more than 30 years of building a legal practice, Morinville lawyer Gord Putnam will leave Putnam Law LLP at the end of May to take on the role of provincial judge. 

Putnam was one of 12 judges appointed by the province this week, the most judicial appointments at one time in Alberta’s history.

The well-known lawyer received his bachelor of law from the University of Alberta in 1991. Putnam has practised with Putnam & Lawson [now Putnam Law LLP.] since 1992 and has been a managing partner since 1996. The practice focused on real estate, corporate, wills and estates, subdivision and land development. 

In addition to his legal work, Putnam is currently co-president of the Rotary Club of Morinville-Sturgeon, served as Town of Morinville councillor from 2013 to 2017, and has served the region as Sturgeon County Economic Development Board Chair.

“Obviously, I’m honoured, Putnam said of the judicial appointment,” noting it raised some nostalgia as his grandfather had been one of the first Justices of the Peace before Alberta became a province. “He was involved in one of the first murder trials in the history of the region. I thought about how that was so strange that it was the late 1800s, and now a hundred and some years later, this [appointment] is happening.”

Putnam feels a debt of gratitude to the entire region for supporting him as a lawyer throughout the past 30 years. 

“I have loyal and amazing clients, people I call my friends. Those relationships have been really important to me,” Putnam said, adding he could not have done what he’s done without his staff, including the upcoming change in roles. “Our staff is fantastic on customer service and the way that we do things.

“And, of course, all the lawyers. Andrew as a partner. Sam [Samantha Huculak] coming in. Max, [Putnam] who was here for a while.”

Appointment To Judge A Lengthy Process

Lawyers with at least ten years at the bar can apply to become provincial court judges. The Alberta Judicial Council weighs the applications and makes recommendations to the Provincial Court Nominating Committee. Those recommendations move on to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, who then makes recommendations to the cabinet.

Putnam applied before the COVID Pandemic but received a letter that he was highly recommended for the position. Then came the minister of justice’s call that he was to become a judge.

The Morinville lawyer is appointed to the Edmonton region. His office will be in St. Albert, but he’ll put some miles in to preside over cases. 

“Judges that were appointed will be travelling anywhere from Jasper to Lloydminster, south of Leduc and as far north as Fort Chipewyan,” Putnam explained. “As a young judge, I’ll probably be on the road a lot going to those different places.”

As a judge, Putnam will take on criminal, family and youth cases and some small claims matters. 

He will undergo new training, including some time in Ottawa, shadowing experienced judges and taking on a judge mentor. 

“It’s a steep learning curve for me. I’ve been doing private practice for 30 years,” Putnam said, adding he expects to bring his professional and personal skills to the courtroom, applying his calm style to things. 

“I know there are all kinds of styles, but my style is going to be very similar to who I am now,” he said. “Calm, reflection, weigh all the information, be prepared to accept new information and make a decision based on what that information is before me and the processes I have to follow. That is the way I see that role.”

Not Possible Without The Region’s Support

Putnam has a longstanding love of the region and its residents, regarding both as amazing and saying he is proud to represent the region in this way.

“I’m so grateful for having that experience,” he said of his various experiences in Morinville and Sturgeon County.

But one recent experience was particularly personal; walking into Sturgeon County to present on behalf of a client for the last time. 

“It was very nostalgic,” Putnam said. “Dad was a County Councillor. I started working for the County in the summers when I was 21, and I thought, ‘It’s almost 40 years. How is this possible?'”

Law Firm In Capable Hands

Gord Putnam’s departure from the practice he built over three decades with former partner Andrew Lawson, who will continue to work with the firm, will see Samantha Huculak take over as the practice’s managing partner. 

Putnam said he and Lawson talked about succession planning more than a decade ago. 

“We committed to building the building and staying in town, and having the ability for someone to take over from us instead of just one day walking away and having the town have no lawyer,” Putnam said. “That wasn’t an option for me. There needed to be that ability, and Sam stepped in. [She] started as an articling student with us, then became an associate, and worked her way up and eventually became a partner.”

Hucalak became a partner on January 1, 2021, when Lawson transitioned out of being a partner with the firm, working part-time as he transitioned into retirement. 

“We set up all the systems. We set up all the processes so that it’s turnkey,” Putnam said. “She’s going to replace me in the role of solicitor. She’s going to transition out of her practice in family and litigation over to what I have been doing, and we’re looking for a young lawyer to replace her.”

Gord Putnam said he is excited to pass his practice on to Huculak, who he regards as a highly competent lawyer. 

“Sometimes, as they say, ‘When you’re the old guy, you’ve just got to get out of the way when the younger people are coming up,'” Putnam said.

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6 Comments

  1. Congratulations Gord , This is a very well deserving appointment …we wish you the very best in this new endeavour but
    Know you will handle this as you have handled all of your other undertakings!
    We are so proud of you!
    Gib &Lil Boddez

  2. Congratulations Gord , This is a very well deserving appointment …we wish you the very best in this new endeavour but
    Know you will handle this as you have handled all of your other undertakings!
    We are so proud of you!

  3. Congratulations Gord! You have no idea how much this town will miss you here (for us) day after day. My family, especially myself, want to wish you a very fruitful and long new career.

  4. 👏 Well deserved Gord.
    Congratulations 🎉
    So very happy for you!

  5. Congratulations Gord!!! I can’t think of a more worthy candidate to fill your new role. I have every confidence that you will excel in this new chapter of your career. You will be missed at Putnam Law but I would like to thank you for a secession plan that included the Town of Morinville and it’s residents. You are a class act Gord.

  6. Congratulations Gord. I am so happy to hear of your appointment and to see that you are succeeding in meeting your vision and goals (as always) I wish you the best and am excited for Samantha to take on her new role. Putnam and Lawson is such a wonderful place with a wonderful team. Wishing you all the best!

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