Profile: Al Hudec

In the lead up to the 3rd Annual Canadian Food Law & Policy Conference (September 25-27, 2018), we will be profiling leading Canadian practitioners and scholars of food law and policy. This is part of our mission to provide opportunities for knowledge sharing and diffusion within the growing field of Food Law and Policy.

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Name: Albert Hudec

Title: Partner at Farris Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP

Education: University of Toronto (JD & LLM)

How does your work involve food law and/or policy?

I provide legal advice to the British Columbia wine industry, including wineries and wine industry associations.

This includes advice on regulatory and trade matters matters, winery sales and other industry transactions, and policy advocacy. A lot of my work involves providing legal support for lobbying efforts on issues important to the wine industry such as direct shipment of wine across provincial boundaries.

About 40% of my work involves work with the wine industry, while the rest of my time is spent working in corporate M&A and Aboriginal law. I have been practicing in the area of food law for the last 10 years.

How did you get involved in food law and/or policy and what skills have allowed you to be successful in this area?

My interest in this field grew from a personal passion for Canadian wine. The wine industry in the Okanagan Valley has really developed over the last several years, and grown to be a major value-added industry for agriculture and tourism. I began to network and speak at industry events (the Wine Law Conference in Vancouver, for example), and eventually established contacts and friendships in the BC wine industry.

Before getting involved in wine law, I was a legal academic (teaching economics classes), and then I worked in the oil and gas industry. These diverse experiences helped me to acquire a broad-based tool box of legal skills. This legal toolbox, coupled with an understanding of the wine business and industry and a solutions oriented approach, is what makes me effective in representing my clients in the wine industry.

What do you see as emerging issues in food law and policy?

There are a lot of important and emerging issues right now. Trade and climate change are major issues, but also the issue of de-regulation and the need for self-regulation in the food industry. Food labelling and safety standards are reaching a point that is beyond governments’ ability to effectively regulate—it will be up to the industry to regulate itself to meet these standards. Consumers, especially millennial consumers, want to know more about the product they are consuming,

What is your favourite part of working in food law?

Getting to know and work with the people in the industry. Winery owners are interesting and passionate people.

Do you have any advice to lawyers/students interested in engaging in food law?

If you are passionate about an industry-specific field of food law, learn about the industry and get to know the people within it. More generally, it is also important to develop a profile in providing a wide variety of legal services to clients. Food law is a large and relatively diverse field, and the benefit of engaging in it now is that it is not overly-competitive. Start now and you will still be one of the first in this this fast growing speciality area.

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