It is with great sadness we learned of the passing of Robert Banno.
Robert was an accomplished lawyer and a deeply respected colleague whose unparalleled contributions to the firm, the legal profession and the Japanese-Canadian community were widely celebrated.
Robert was first called to the bar in 1969 and joined the firm the following year. He was a Partner from 1975 until 2019, and continued to provide his invaluable expertise as Counsel. Last year, Robert was recognized by the Law Society of British Columbia for his 50-year career as a lawyer. Robert was known for his unfaltering enthusiasm for practice and considerable knowledge of numerous areas of law. He was an accomplished business lawyer focusing on corporate and commercial law, corporate finance and project development and financing, who successfully represented clients in numerous infrastructure, natural resources and land development projects.
Robert played a key role in building and maintaining the firm’s vibrant Japan practice. He was a role model and mentor to countless lawyers, many of whom he helped recruit. Robert was also instrumental in establishing the firm’s Aboriginal Law practice and was ranked in this area of law by leading legal guides including Chambers Canada, The Legal 500 Canada, The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory and Best Lawyers in Canada. For his exceptional merit, contribution to the legal community and professional integrity Robert was appointed Queens Counsel in 2013.
In addition to his notable career accomplishments, Robert was the Founding President and Director of the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, President of the Nikkei Place Foundation and Vice-president and Director of the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia. In 2016, Robert was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Japanese Government for his efforts to build the Nikkei Place complex, a cornerstone of the Japanese Canadian community. Robert was also awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for his contribution to the Japanese-Canadian community. Robert placed great value on community involvement; his tireless commitment to preserving and advancing the history and culture of the Japanese-Canadian community spanned several decades.
Those who worked with Robert will greatly miss his generosity, wisdom and gentle persona.
Robert leaves an enormous legacy at our firm and in the broader community. He was a skilled lawyer, relentless advocate for those in need and tireless supporter and mentor to all who came within his sphere of influence. We will miss him dearly - his laughter, generosity and the ease with which he could relate to everyone and deal with any situation. He enjoyed challenging the status quo but always made it a collaborative process. Robert liked to connect in person and kept the Vancouver office interconnected with his daily ‘rounds’. We are all the better to have had the good fortune to know him and have him as a colleague and friend.
Catherine Gibson, Managing Partner of the Vancouver office
Robert was a great leader, visionary and builder in the Japanese-Canadian community of Vancouver. As President of the Nikkei Place Foundation, the main fundraising organization for the Japanese-Canadian community in Vancouver, Robert worked tirelessly to raise the funds for the initial building and the ongoing operations of Nikkei Place. Nikkei Place provided the Japanese Canadian community with a Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Center, and housing for seniors at Robert Nimi Nikkei Home (Assisted Living) and New Sakura-So (Independent Living). His passing was a major loss for the community. He will be deeply missed.
Brian Tsuji, long-time colleague, friend and Secretary of the Nikkei Place Foundation
Robert was a friend to all, his contributions to the firm and the profession are a model to all. He often spoke in the warmest manner of his devotion to his family. While he was a significant contributor to the profession, our firm and well being, he valued his family above all. On behalf of all members of DLA Piper in Canada and around the world, our heartfelt condolences are extended to his wife Cathy and Robert’s family and friends.
Robert Seidel, Q.C., Canada Managing Partner