Oct. 26, 2022

Litigation lawyer and UCalgary instructor follows his powerful moral compass

2022 Top 40 Under 40: Brendan MacArthur-Stevens; sessional instructor of administrative law, Faculty of Law, UCalgary; litigation associate, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Brendan MacArthur-Stevens
Brendan MacArthur-Stevens Avenue Magazine

Lawyer and UCalgary instructor Brendan MacArthur-Stevens, 33, has always been driven by a simple rule: if he sees something wrong in the world, he feels compelled to fix it. Raised on a diet of landmark legal decisions for the LGBTQ2S+ community — from legalizing same-sex marriages and adoption rights to extending social and tax benefits to same-sex couples — MacArthur-Stevens’s career highlight occurred in 2018 when, on a pro bono basis, he represented the Centre for Sexuality at the Alberta Court of Appeal in a successful attempt to keep the province’s protections for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in place, the Centre’s position being that GSAs were crucial to the mental health of LGBTQ2S+ youth. As a member of the gay community, MacArthur-Stevens is also a co-founder of the Calgary Trans Legal Clinic, in partnership with the Skipping Stone Foundation and UCalgary, which has helped more than 500 transgender and gender-diverse individuals access free legal advice and form-filling services.

What, exactly, does a “litigation and dispute resolution associate” do?

At Blakes, I help clients avoid legal disputes. My practice focuses on complex commercial disputes and advising clients in constitutional and administrative law matters. And, for the past three years, I have also taught administrative law at UCalgary.

What has been your biggest career highlight?

Representing the Centre for Sexuality in a case involving the constitutionality of legislation that sought to protect gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools. I am also proud of some of the significant legal victories I have helped our clients obtain in the courts and in private arbitrations.

What is the most satisfying thing about your job?

Helping our clients solve extremely complex problems and achieving strong business-oriented results.

If you were to go back to school, what would you take?

If I had to choose a different career, I would do something in the arts like painting, theatre performance or interior design.

Who are your biggest heroes?

Certain current and former Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as Marsha P. Johnson [an American gay-rights activist] and [tennis champ] Serena Williams.

What are you currently watching and reading?

I’m reading lots of science fiction and fantasy stories. As for watching, I am really enjoying the new Lord of the Rings series, The Rings of Power. On the page, I absolutely loved the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin and the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Liu Cixin.

Why is mentorship important?

Mentorship is important because we owe it to the next generation, and it is essential to the future of your organization. Mentorship is particularly important for young people that hail from communities that are underrepresented within your organization. Mentorship provides access to information, a forum for genuine and meaningful conversations, and a means of support and guidance.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

When I am not working, I like to be active, cook, read literary fiction, play golf, and spend time with family and friends.

With files from Avenue Magazine.

Meet the entire 2022 cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honourees at Avenue Magazine.