ESTEVAN - An Estevan lawyer who has worked extensively with the oil and gas sector and the business community has been recognized for his contributions to the legal profession and public service with a Queen's Counsel (Q.C.) designation.
The Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General announced in December that Robert Nicolay and 19 others from across Saskatchewan would be recognized. Nicolay is currently with Bridges and Company, which is based out of Estevan.
Nicolay articled at McKercher, McKercher and Whitmore’s Regina office in 2000, and the following year he was called to the bar and moved to their Saskatoon office. In 2004, he started working for McDougall Gauley’s Saskatoon office, and in 2007 he became the chief of staff for the Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing.
In March of 2012, he moved to Estevan to work at Bridges and Company, which was the McDougall Gauley Estevan office at the time.
“It’s a really nice blend of interesting legal work in a small city setting. Lots of interesting deals are happening. Living in Estevan gives you the opportunity to practise in the oil and gas area as well, which is an opportunity you don’t have in other regions of the province,” said Nicolay.
Working in a small city allows him to get to know his clients. He doesn’t have to worry about long commutes, and he can go home for lunch during the week.
“It’s a nice mix of larger firm quality of work in a smaller city setting,” said Nicolay.
When he moved to Estevan, he found what he was looking for after he completed law school.
There are a number of different ways to receive a Q.C. designation, he said. Some are nominated. Others have a discretionary appointment, or receive the honour based on their position
He didn’t know this was in the works, so he was pleasantly surprised, and very honoured, when he was recognized.
A Q.C. is an honourary title, but he noted that it does have some benefits.
“If there’s a group of lawyers waiting to appear in chambers to speak to their matters, sometimes Q.C.s are allowed to go first. I don’t do much litigation, so I probably won’t enjoy that privilege very often,” he said.
A distinction like this does cause him to reflect on his career, the offices in which he worked and the different areas of law. He started with a focus on litigation, but when he came to Estevan, his attention shifted to legal matters such as corporate commercial, oil and gas, wills and estates, and residential and commercial real estate.
“I think everything I’ve done, I’ve learned valuable things during my time as a litigator, I’ve had the opportunity to work at three different firms, so the opportunity to learn from lots of very good lawyers over the years, and that’s certainly continued with Chad (Jesse) and Barry (Bridges) when I moved to Estevan,” Nicolay said.
He believes he has landed at the place he’ll call home.
Bridges and Company also has offices in Carlyle and Moosomin.
Queen's Counsel appointments are based on recommendations from a committee consisting of Saskatchewan's minister of justice and attorney general, the chief justice of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan or the chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, and the past-presidents of the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
To be eligible for a Q.C. appointment, individuals must live in Saskatchewan and must have practised law for at least 10 years in the superior courts of any province or territory of Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland.