Decisions made in a bar usually get a bad rap, but in Mr. Darcy Wray’s case, one particular decision—to pursue law school—set him on a path to success. “From there, I knew I was going to be a solicitor,” he says. “By the time people approach a litigator, everything has blown up. But for a solicitor, most commercial transactions come from a place of positivity—buying or selling a business, negotiating a new lease for their next venture, or entering into an employment agreement to hire a new employee—and that’s where I wanted to be.”
Mr. Wray earned his name on the letterhead as partner at the first law firm he worked at, but left after 14 years to build a new firm with two other lawyers. In 2010, he launched Affinity Law Group, where he is the sole owner. “Affinity is a business law firm. We take care of entrepreneurs and sophisticated businesspeople,” he says. Their mission, simply, to exceed clients’ expectations. And, they have. Or, more specifically, he has. Most of Mr. Wray’s clients have followed him through his almost three decades of practice. “It’s about treating people with respect, looking out for their interests, and being honest,” he explains. “I’m just proud of the fact that I’ve done enough right to have people committed to stay with me for as long as they have.”
Mr. Wray is also an active member of a number of business groups, including Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). “I never joined it to develop clients,” he says. “I joined so that I could be amongst a group of likeminded people who have similar philosophies, and who would understand the issues I was dealing with. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be optimistic. When you’re running your own business, if something goes wrong, you can say it’s someone else’s fault, but it doesn’t matter, you still have to fix the problem. Successful entrepreneurs tend to spend more time on ‘how do I fix this, how do I make it better, how do I make it bigger.’”
Today, Mr. Wray is also Chair of the Vancouver Police Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which he has been a part of for more than six years. “I believe that when life treats you well, you have an obligation to give back,” he says. To date, the Foundation has granted over $7.5 million towards more than 150 innovative programs, initiatives that have helped the VPD save lives and prevent crime.
The HUB at St. Paul’s Hospital is one such project. When a police officer picks up someone having a mental health crisis, they often take them to St. Paul’s for treatment. The officer can’t release them until a doctor has taken responsibility for the individual, so often the officers end up waiting for hours with the patient in emergency. “The HUB came together after the Foundation received $750,000 from a generous anonymous donor who requested that the money be used to help alleviate the mental health and addiction crisis in the city,” Mr. Wray says. This past July, the Emergency Department HUB and Vancouver Police Foundation Transitional Care Centre officially launched, joining the recently opened St. Paul’s Rapid Access Addiction Clinic and the Overdose Prevention Site. These four components create a specialized, multi-faceted model designed to meet people’s individual needs. These new facilities for mental health in St. Paul’s are unique in Canada, and the project was initiated by the Vancouver Police Foundation.
Another hallmark initiative is the VPD Cadet Program for inner city youth. “The most at-risk kids in grades 10-12 are invited to participate,” explains Mr. Wray. “Every Saturday for a school year, the cadets get together with police officers to learn leadership skills, team-building, how to prevent bullying, keeping safe on the Internet, physical fitness, becoming a mentor, and other lessons to help them forge a productive and positive path in life.” Mr. Wray has had the opportunity to go for ride-alongs with police officers, and many calls take them into the depths of the Downtown Eastside. “I just realized that if you can re-direct a child who is on the wrong path, you have the opportunity to improve our community,” he says. “Spending time and money now to help inner city youth make better choices is hugely valuable. The VPD Cadet Program exposes youth, who may otherwise make different choices, to positive influences and shows them that there are other options. It’s a life-changing program that the Foundation sponsors, among others.”
Mr. Wray joined TCC in 2009. “I knew at some point that I wanted to be a part of a club,” he says. “When I looked at this Club, I felt that it was younger. There’s a different energy here, more of a vibrant, casual, ‘let’s get together with friends’ feel, rather than a ‘let’s go to be seen’ environment. And, from a facility point of view, this Club can’t be beat. It has the best views in the city. My office is across the street; when I set up Affinity, it was actually a part of my decision-making as to how close my office was going to be to the Club.
“Most of my time here has been for business entertaining. I use Cuvée and The Grill—it’s easy, convenient, and predictable. At this time of year, trying to get a spot to eat anywhere at 12 noon is a nightmare, whereas I can walk to the Club and get a table every time. Also, given the relationships that I have, being able to say, ‘let’s go to the Club,’ works really well from a marketing point of view. Sheila always welcomes me for lunch, and Peter will wander in and say hello. The Club, for me, is one of the perks that comes with the success that I’ve achieved.”
Mr. Wray’s success in life is largely thanks to his optimism and commitment to his relationships and friendships, but his goal-driven nature, honed from years as a competitive swimmer, probably has something to do with it, too. “What’s not written down doesn’t get done,” he says. “If you sit down and journal, and then go back six months to a year later, it’s amazing all the things you can check off. If you don’t write it down, you have nothing to chase.” What is Mr. Wray chasing now? “I have to admit I’m at a place where I haven’t quite figured it out. But by the time I’m 60, I would like to continue doing what I’m doing, just not quite so hard.” Not a bad objective to have your sights set on.