Top honours from law association for Elora man

ELORA – Clarke Melville is uncomfortable talking about it, but the lawyer has been selected to receive the Coulter A. Osborne Award for Integrity, Comity and Beneficence from the Waterloo Region Law Association.

 “There are 600 lawyers in the region, and many would be worthy,” said Melville, who practices in Waterloo and lives in Elora. 

“To be the choice is humbling, and in some ways mortifying. I prefer to work in the smoky back room. I’m not that comfortable with self-promotion and being in the limelight.” 

But being in the limelight is exactly where Melville should be, said Milena Protich, president of the law association. 

The award, which will be presented at the association’s gala in April, “calls for a trifecta of standards – integrity, comity and beneficence and Clarke has them all,” said Protich.  

“First, he’s an excellent lawyer. And then, it’s his way of treating people – always respectful, collegial, considerate, and fair.”

She added, “And he’s known for mentoring people. He’ll take people who are really green and teach them how to be good lawyers. 

“He’s also modest. He won’t like talking about himself this way, but he’s a wonderful guy.” 

Melville’s family moved to Elora in 1967 when he was eight.

He attended the original Elora Public School, now the Elora Centre for the Arts, and recalled spending “countless hours” at the Elora Gorge, being familiar with farm life through his friends, and appreciating the closeness that small towns offer. 

“I’m still a small-town person and I have that approach because I was raised in Elora,” he said. 

His teen years were “eclectic,” he said – mining in northern Ontario, a variety of jobs in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where he met his wife, and back to Ontario in 1982 to attend the University of Guelph and then the University of Ottawa.

He was called to the bar in 1990 and two years later moved back to Elora, where he and his wife Terry McKinsey raised their four boys.  

After working in Toronto and Waterloo for other firms, he opened his own practice in 2000 that’s now called Melville Krotz Lawyers in Kitchener.

“I don’t remember how I decided on law,” he said. “But by the time I was 23 and headed to university, I had decided. And it was a goal I pursued all these years.

“I like helping people and meeting people and their stories are interesting to me,” he continued. 

“It’s fulfilling, it’s rewarding. Every day is different.” 

Locally he has volunteered with the Elora Curling Club and professionally with the Waterloo Region Law Association, the legal aid system, and the Wellington County Police Services Board.

Jennifer Krotz joined the firm in 2008 and became a partner in 2015.

“Clarke is an excellent mentor, for me and many others,” she said.

“That’s the big reason he’s so admired and why he’s getting this award.”

Melville said mentoring is a process that comes with experience and years on the job. 

He had mentors when he was a young lawyer, and he continues to phone colleagues to gain their insights on complicated matters.

The award is named after Coulter A. Osborne, a Canadian arbitrator, former associate Chief Justice of Ontario and Ontario’s integrity commissioner from 2001 to 2007.

Osborne practiced in Waterloo Region “and he had an impeccable standard of practice and civility,” Protich said.

“He’s a giant and the award is given to someone who exemplifies those characteristics.”

Melville is the complete package, she explained.

“He spent his life bettering the profession and he deserves the recognition,” she said.

The association’s awards dinner is on April 4 in Kitchener.