Sept. 26, 2023

Posthumous bar call honours alum truly passionate about the law

Armin Mojtahedi, JD’16, passed away before he could be called to the bar so his law school friends lobbied the Law Society to recognize him; ceremony is Sept. 29
Armin Mojtahedi
Armin Mojtahedi, JD'16
Armin and Ian Pillai

Armin and classmate Ian Pillai at their convocation

Ian Pillai

After three years of law school, a year of articling, and multiple exams, the bar call is the final step to becoming a certified lawyer in Canada. It’s a celebration of everything a person has accomplished in their journey, a time to celebrate with family, friends, and mentors.  

For Armin Mojtahedi, JD’16, that celebration never happened.

He was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain tumour on June 9, 2016, just days before he was supposed to celebrate his graduation with classmates in Banff. Despite his diagnosis and undergoing treatment, Armin began his articling position. He passed away on Sept. 20, 2017, just short of achieving the goal he fought so hard to achieve. 

“It's about the worst luck you can have,” says Marco Maduri, JD/MBA’17, who lived with Armin during law school. “But what he did under the circumstances, the way friends and family and colleagues supported him, it was one of the most remarkable things I have seen in my life. 

“Armin displayed a lot of the characteristics and values that we looked for in this profession, and it seemed so unfair that his friends, family, and colleagues who saw his tremendous efforts weren’t able to enjoy that traditional Alberta bar call, to celebrate his hard work."

Armin Grad Banquet

Armin (far left) and his classmates at the annual graduation banquet in Banff.

Inspired by event for war veterans  

Inspired by a posthumous bar call held for WWI veterans for the 100th anniversary of the war, Maduri, along with classmate William Katz, JD/MBA’16, knew they could do something similar for their friend. As law is a highly regulated profession, the Law Society of Alberta didn’t have any precedent or rules in place for a bar call of this nature. The two rallied classmates to write letters on Armin’s behalf, tell his story to the Law Society, and persuade them about what was possible.   

“Armin was more dedicated than any of us to the practice of law and to succeeding in the profession,” explains Katz. “It didn’t seem fair that we could keep working, and he didn’t have the opportunity to continue his journey. It wasn’t something that ever sat well with me.”  

Chip in SLA

Armin's dog Chip was a regular visitor around Student Legal Assistance.

Embodied the qualities of ‘the good lawyer’ 

During his law school career, Armin was involved with Student Legal Assistance, the law school’s pro bono clinic for low-income Calgarians. Justice Michelle Christopher, BA’82, of the Alberta Court of Justice, was the clinic's executive director at the time, and remembers his dedication and passion for helping others through the clinic's work. Justice Christopher will preside over the posthumous bar call on Sept. 29.  

“Armin was also a favorite in his class — the cohort of 2016 — where he quietly and steadfastly learned the law and developed the skills he would need as a lawyer,” recalls Justice Christopher. “He embodied all the qualities of ‘the good lawyer’: He was ethical, empathetic and courageous. He was intelligent, and of course, articulate and organized. He valued others in the legal community, and was ambitious, but not for personal gain. Rather, he sought to make a difference, and lead by example. He was passionate about the law, and the rule of law.”  

“He fought, every day, for the things he cared about and in so doing, inspired all of us to do — and be — better. He is missed.”   

In addition to the bar call, Katz and Maduri have established the Armin Mojtahedi Memorial Award in Law. The award will be given to a student who is an active member of Student Legal Assistance and demonstrates exemplary mentorship, commitment, and collegiality as a member of SLA and within the law school, just like Armin was.   

Armin Mojtahedi posthumous bar call and celebration (open to all) 

Friday, Sept. 29 
3 p.m. 
Calgary Courts Centre, 601 5th Street SW, Calgary 

A post-call celebration will be held at the offices of JSS Barristers, 800, 304 - 8 Avenue S.W., Calgary (inside the CORE Shopping Centre).