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Lawyer rises above the bar

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 07/02) - Volunteers come from all walks of life and professions, a fact that the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) - NWT is trying to demonstrate to the public.

NNSL Photo

Elaine Keenan-Bengts displays the community services award she received from the Canadian Bar Association - NWT branch. Keenan Bengts was presented the award during the CBA- NWT's annual general meeting July 26. - Chris Puglia/NNSL photo

"It's pretty important, it changes the face of the profession," said Linda Whitford, CBA-NWT executive director. "People see lawyers in a certain light and they sometimes don't realize that lawyers are people too, they are part of the community and they don't only practice law."

The award recognizes CBA members from the NWT and Nunavut who demonstrate outstanding dedication, service and commitment to the community.

The first recipient of the award is Elaine-Keenan Bengts a family law lawyer in Yellowknife.

Keenan-Bengts was recognized for her community involvement with the Yellowknife Gymnastics Club.

Currently she serves as president of the club and has been involved in the program since her children began in gymnastics 10 years ago.

Two of her three children still compete with the club and the other is a coach.

Keenan-Bengts has been one of the guiding forces with the club in building the new gymnastics facility as part of the new Yellowknife twin pad arena.

It is results like those that she says makes volunteering worthwhile.

"It's rewarding, the fact that the gymnastics club is building a facility worth a million dollars is pretty impressive and the fact that I had something to do with that is pretty exciting," she says.

Keenan-Bengts says she was thrilled to hear that she had won the award and elated that it came with a $1,000 to be donated to the Gymnastics club.

"It's always nice to be recognized, we don't do it for the recognition, but it's nice to have someone pat you on the back," she says.

As well the award is important for awareness when it comes to some negative stigmas that surround the legal community.

"It's important for the community to understand that lawyers do a lot of volunteer work. I think you will find lawyers are the best volunteers, they are always doing something, but they don't take the credit for it,"