Newly elected as President of the Board of Directors of Éducaloi, Me Michel Beauchamp tells us how he could’ve had a very different career. As surprising as it may seem, this esteemed notary once considered becoming a professional ice hockey referee…
A difficult choice
… but a wise one, as shown time and time again by his many contributions to the legal world, particularly through his legal writings. He’s been named notary emeritus for his work in the fields of estate settlement, tutorship and curatorship, and non-contentious procedures.
This career choice could only be made by putting aside a childhood dream: to skate in the spotlight in the National Hockey League (NHL).
“I’m not the kind of guy who wants glory and honour,” confided Me Beauchamp. “I do my own thing, and if that helps others, all the better!”
Not so different
Referee or notary? One ensures the discipline of professional athletes under the watchful eye of partisan crowds, while the other provides legal advice and guidance to clients during important life events. Contrary to what one might think, Me Beauchamp believes that these two professions have much in common.
“As a notary, we mediate every day,” says Me Beauchamp. “Especially when it comes to estates. When you’re settling an estate, you’re surrounded by people with opposing interests and different life backgrounds, and you have to take on the role of mediator, conciliator and sometimes even arbitrator to reach a decision. It’s all done with one goal in mind: to explain things to everyone present. People who understand their situation are more likely to be receptive to the solution.”
As for refereeing, it’s pretty much the same thing, according to this hockey fan. “You have to do conflict prevention and conciliation. Whatever the sport, the referee isn’t just there to make decisions. At some point, you have a word with the captains and tell them, ‘It’s okay, but don’t cross the line; otherwise I’ll be forced to crack down.’”
He who teaches, learns
Throughout his career, Me Beauchamp has made it his mission to make the law more accessible to the general public and to spread understanding of the law—a mission not unlike that of Éducaloi. That’s the reason he also works as a lecturer at the Université de Montréal. This way, he can pass on his knowledge to future jurists.
When teaching, he tries to maintain a mediator-like approach. And despite his almost 35 years’ experience as a notary, he doesn’t believe he holds the absolute truth—quite the contrary.
“I’ve always been a teacher who was right there with the students, not up front at the lectern,” he says. “Why? Well, because I’m there for them. I got my diploma. I’m there to teach them and to make sure they understand, to give them all the tools they’ll need for their practice.”
“There’s a Latin maxim ‘Qui docet discit’; ‘He who teaches, learns.’ I’ve never considered that I know more than others just because I’m up front teaching a class. It’s just that I have a gift for breaking down difficult subjects for others to understand, and for combining these explanations with examples that students can easily grasp.”
Big shoes to fill
The departure of the Honourable François Rolland, former President of the Board, has left a void at Éducaloi. Me Beauchamp was quick to acknowledge the important contribution of the former Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Québec, while emphasizing his desire to bring something new to the organization.
“I feel like Anthony Eden when [U.K. Prime Minister] Winston Churchill left,” says Me Beauchamp. “When he sat down in his seat and said to himself, ’oh boy, that’s quite a seat!”
“François Rolland has done an exceptional job at the helm of Éducaloi. He’s done a lot for Quebec society. I don’t see it as ‘oh, my God, I’m under pressure.’ It’s more that I have to bring my own particular skills to Éducaloi. My presidency won’t be François Rolland’s, just as François’ wasn’t [his predecessor] Michel Bouchard’s, and so on. We each try to bring our own experience to the table.”
Me Beauchamp had previously served on the Éducaloi Board of Directors. He now returns to it as President. He has seen the non-profit organization grow and mature, and is proud of the work it’s done over the years.
“Éducaloi does an exceptional job of informing the public about the law in plain language through popular education, and it does so in a professional manner. Often, the term ‘plain language’ means to reduce to the simplest expression, to make it boring. But that’s not what Éducaloi does. Éducaloi does it while respecting the importance of words and the importance of law. Éducaloi makes the law accessible. Today, the name Éducaloi is everywhere, and everyone knows what it is.”
The first notary to become President, Me Beauchamp believes he’s in a position to make a unique contribution to the organization. In particular, he plans to focus on philanthropy, as Éducaloi prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary in two years’ time.
“One of the mandates I find important is overseeing philanthropy and planned gifts,” he says. “For me, it’s important to ensure Éducaloi’s financial sustainability. I think it’s important to have a solid financial foundation.”
“There are almost 35,000 jurists in Quebec. A small gift of $1,000 per person, a donation written in their wills, would add up to a considerable amount. Why not use this tool?”