Member of the Month – Brian Duong


Please share a bit about yourself!
I grew up in Vancouver and studied at UBC. I likely achieved my professional peak while I was in high school; I sold cotton candy at GM Place for Grizzlies and Canucks games as well as at concerts at a commission rate of 50 cents per serving. I sold about 237 of them at the Britney Spears concert in 2000, which might be some sort of record. Since I couldn’t turn that into a career, I studied law at the University of Toronto and the University of Cambridge, and spent a few years lawyering in Boston and Paris. I moved back to town with my wife Junella and son Braden in 2016 and I now practice at Hunter Litigation Chambers, a boutique litigation law firm located not too far from the Club. Our family welcomed a second son, Benedict, in 2018.

What is your vision for success?
Getting a good result for our clients, which most of the time means resolving disputes before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. Then, coming home to spend some time with my family.

How do you spend your time when you need to relax?
I’m trying to learn French since my oldest was born in Paris and I’d like for him to learn too. My French tutor comes to my office each week, and our lessons sometimes double as therapy or venting sessions. Hitting the rubber squash ball against the wall is also a great way to relieve tension.

Why did you become a member?
Mr. Justice John Hunter, the namesake for the law firm I work at (and who is now a judge at the Court of Appeal), took me to the Grill for lunch in 2009. I remember telling myself that if I ever moved back to Vancouver, I would join this Club, and I did.

What have you enjoyed the most about the Club so far?
I spend a lot of time at the Club on the squash courts, and with the help of some members who insist on doing drills (initially Duncan Gibson, and now Stewart Marshall) as well as coach Barry Gifford, I’ve improved a fair bit. I’ve done the 45-day challenge and the 99km swim challenge; the latter I was able to complete only because Sergio Hsia allowed me to use flippers after the first 15 laps of each swim session. We take our kids swimming most weekends and we will sometimes try to get brunch at the Grill afterwards where Jean-Louis, Nick, Danny, and others make us feel at home. One time I worked all night at the office, then first thing in the morning showered and hot tubbed at the Club, pulled fresh clothes from out of my locker, took a 20-minute nap in the Business Centre (best place I found to snooze unless someone can suggest otherwise) and went to court.

Tell us about a book, show, speaker, etc. that made an impact on you.
Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, and LIII. I think my son Brady would agree. I also enjoyed the TV shows The Practice and Ally McBeal, which may partly explain why I ended up starting my legal career in Boston.

Do you collect anything?
I have a modest collection of wristwatches and fountain pens. I figure since telling time plays a fairly important part in my life and a good chunk of it is spent writing, these interests allow me to enjoy both a little bit more than I should. I’m a part of a small watch enthusiast group called RedBar YVR, and we get together monthly (sometimes in the Members’ Lounge) to talk watches and take group wrist shots. I can tell when my wife shakes her head at these photos that she finds this all pretty amusing. Anyway, on watches, I’d love to talk to anyone about these little mechanical marvels, fawn over patina, hear stories about how they were acquired or the milestones they marked, and what they mean to the people who own them.

Describe your proudest personal or professional accomplishment.
My wife and I, along with my sister and some friends, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013. I did it to prove that I could, since I am generally not a fan of camping or hiking. My wife did it to come along and ensure that I didn’t do something stupid that would endanger my life.

Who’s someone you really admire?
I admire my parents who both came to Canada from Vietnam, my mother Hanh Duong as a refugee and my father Tich Duong who came on a student visa before the war escalated. They set a high bar for parenting. My dad was a humble man who built a good career at BC Hydro and did some tax consulting on the side. He was a great example of the powers of routine and discipline; for example he swam every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m. at the community swimming pool near our house before work. When I first played squash at TCC, I met Amit Budhwar, who, in addition to being the captain of our Div. 5 team, remembered my dad and told me some stories about him. That alone made my entire membership worth it. My dad would have loved this Club, especially the swimming pool. My dad’s old wooden Dunlop tennis racquet is on display at the Club. I now use a Dunlop as my racquet of choice on the squash court.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
There is a motivational speaker named Eric Thomas whom I imagine makes a good living yelling at college athletes. He says: “To shine like a diamond you’ve got to get cut like a diamond.” I try to tell myself that to get to the gym sometimes. In all seriousness, one nice piece of advice I’ve heard and that I try to pass on comes from the sports world: “The best ability is availability.” It means that no matter how good your player is, they’re no good to the team if they are injured. I’d like to think that in life, it is also a mantra worth following; you might not be the most skilled, you might make some mistakes from time to time, but if you can be counted on to be there when it matters most, you can make yourself pretty valuable.