BRIAN A. BERESH, Q.C. B.A., LL.B.
Brian A. Beresh Q.C., is the senior and founding partner of the law firm of Beresh Law and has been practicing law for 42 years. Born and raised on a farm near Kipling, Saskatchewan, Mr. Beresh received his Bachelor of Arts with Distinction (with a major in Political Science and minor in Economics) in 1972 and later earned his Bachelor of Laws in 1975 from the University of Saskatchewan. Mr. Beresh was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1976 and the Alberta Bar in 1980. He became a member of the Yukon Bar in 1986 and a member of the Northwest Territories Bar in 2008.
On October 18, 2006, in the 2006 edition “The Best Lawyers in Canada,” Mr. Beresh was selected and named by his peers in the defence bar as one of Canada’s top criminal lawyers. In 2012 he was named by Martindale-Hubbell Top Lawyers as one of the top lawyers in Canada.
Mr. Beresh is a much sought after criminal defence and human/civil rights lawyer. He has been described by peers as “one of, if not the busiest lawyer in Canada.” A major client once publically described the benefit of Mr. Beresh’s defence as follows: “If Beresh is in your corner you are a winner”.
During the span of his lengthy career, he has been defence counsel in over 130 jury trials and has represented over 180 people charged with murder/manslaughter, some of whom have been individuals charged with multiple counts of murder. He has defended numerous individuals charged with sexual assault, drug offences and weapons offences. He has defended numerous complex white-collar fraud and theft allegations including the defence of a bank manager alleged to have stolen $16 million and recently defended a manager of Alberta Motor Association charged with fraud in excess of $8 million dollars. He defended the youngest woman declared to be a Dangerous Offender in Canada, and through his tireless efforts, had that decision reversed entirely, on appeal, before the Alberta Court of Appeal (see R. v. Neve).
He has also defended numerous companies charged with environment violations, and individuals, charged with offences arising from the workplace, including occupational health prosecutions, where multiple people have been injured or died at their place of work.
He is an often requested speaker at various Law Schools or organizations related to the law. In 2006 he provided the annual Bernard Cohen lecture at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. He presented a major lecture to the Canadian Bar Association in Saskatchewan on February 2, 2007 and was named the Sylis E. Halyk Visiting Scholar and Advocacy 2012 – 2013 at the University of Saskatchewan. In addition, he is the annual presenter in trial preparation for Student Legal Services at the University of Alberta. In 2017 he was a panel participant in “Women and the Criminal Justice System” at the University of Calgary.
He has been counsel on numerous lengthy trials, some of which have taken up to three months to conclude in actual trial time. He was defence counsel in the 11 week infamous R. v. Travis Vader trial.
Mr. Beresh has appeared as counsel on numerous occasions before the Court of Appeal in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon and before the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1992, he appeared as counsel on the Milgaard Reference before the Supreme Court of Canada. It was only the third such Reference before that court and the longest in Canadian history. Mr. Beresh also appeared as counsel on the Nerland Inquiry in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and most recently on the David Milgaard Inquiry in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The great demand for Mr. Beresh’s services as a premier criminal defence lawyer have taken him to trials and appeals in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest and Yukon Territories.
A renowned sessional lecturer at the Law School of Alberta continuously since 1988, Mr. Beresh continues to teach classes in the areas of criminal trial procedure, advocacy and advanced criminal law. He presently teaches Advanced Criminal Law to senior law students at the University of Alberta Law School. In 2009, he was nominated as one of the top sessional lecturers at the Law School. In 2017 he was requested to develop a course examining wrongful convictions in the criminal justice system. Such a course had never been offered before. He continues to teach that course and Advanced Criminal Law as he enters his 30th year of being a sessional lecturer.
As a senior criminal lawyer, and past president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association (1984 – 1985), he has lectured on numerous topics including criminal law, criminal procedure, women and the law, advocacy, narcotics issues and constitutional law for numerous groups some of which include Student Legal Services, Canadian Bar Association, Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association, Alberta Trial Lawyers Association and the Universities of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 1998, Mr. Beresh was invited to travel to the Ukraine to lecture at the Law Schools in Kiev and Melniski in relation to Canadian criminal law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
His accomplishments in criminal law were recognized in 2006, when he was requested to present the prestigious annual Bernard Cohen Lecture. That lecture is included in the second volume of Bernard Cohen Lecture’s textbook. He is a much sought after speaker.
Mr. Beresh became a member of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association in 1980. This Association is Edmonton based and is the second largest and powerful criminal defence lawyers’ Association in Canada. He has served the Association as a member and has chaired a number of its committees and in 1984 served as its president. In addition, he was Criminal Law Consultant for the Canadian Mental Health Association and has served as a legal columnist for CBC AM radio.
To remain current with international legal developments and to maintain a North American network for his clients, Mr. Beresh in 1993 joined the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers as a Life Member. This preeminent organization consisting of 12,000 direct and 35,000 affiliate members is the largest criminal defence lawyer association in the world. Given migration and travel between Canada and the United States, it is imperative that contact with the American defence Bar be maintained and enhanced. Mr. Beresh is in constant contact with American colleagues in relation to legal developments on both sides of the border, and in relation to clients who find themselves in difficult situations in either jurisdiction. He has recently completed a major drug case where he was retained by counsel in New York City. He is presently working on a case for a Canadian client who faces criminal law difficulties in Reno, Nevada.
Mr. Beresh was elected for a three-year term as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta in 2005 by the members of his profession. His nomination for the position of Bencher was overwhelmingly endorsed by the record number of votes he received on his election to the position. This body governs the conduct of the 10,000 lawyers practicing in the Province of Alberta. During his term as Bencher, he served on numerous committees, and chaired and participated in numerous hearings, where misconduct was alleged against other members of the profession. Prior to that election, he had represented numerous lawyers who faced disciplinary proceedings before the Law Society. He continues to represent numerous lawyers and other professionals who face disciplinary proceedings.
In 2009, he was retained by Greenpeace Canada to represent their interests throughout Alberta. After one Greenpeace activity near Edmonton, the Premier of Alberta, and other government officials, condemned the Greenpeace activists. Mr. Beresh came to their defence by speaking publicly against political interference from the steps of the Alberta Legislature. His challenge of the Provincial Government resulted in public condemnation of the Government’s position, and he was publically praised both provincially and nationally, for the stance he took against the Government.
In addition to his other commitments, Mr. Beresh has made time to author two chapters for Tough Crimes and More Tough Crimes. The first chapter chronicles the difficulties he encountered in his defence of the R. v. Larry Fisher Saskatchewan murder trial where Mr. Fisher was charged in the death of a young nurse after David Milgaard had been exonerated of that crime. In the second book, Mr. Beresh researched and authored a thoughtful academic review of the Dina Dranchuk case from 1934. Mr. Dranchuk was the last woman in Alberta to be sentenced to death. He plans to continue his writing in hopes of one day publishing books about his life and practice.
Despite his hectic work schedule, Mr. Beresh still finds time to volunteer his services to various community groups and efforts. He is a strong and major supporter of a number of charitable organizations, and has been lauded for his continued support of organizations such as the YMCA, CKUA Radio and the Stollery Children’s Hospital. In September of 2008, his personal challenge was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa, the height of almost 20,000 feet. To encourage the assent, and benefit society, Mr. Beresh raised in excess of $15,000 for the Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A scholarship in his older brother’s name received the funds and is now able to assist many students in the future in achieving their academic goals. He continues tirelessly to be an organizer in his own personal community.
In February of 2011 he successfully ascended Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere (in Argentina) and, as a result of those efforts, he raised in excess of $60,000.00 for the YMCA and Edmonton Strong Kids Campaign. He continues to use his love of playing hockey to help raise money for various charitable organizations.
Mr. Beresh enjoys the practice of criminal law and is dedicated to providing his clients with the highest standards of professional service in the defence of their cases. He is admired by his peers and trusted by his clients and the courts. In the vigorous defence of his clients, he takes the approach that “The Defence Never Rests.” He is routinely referred to as “liberty’s last champion” for his tireless work in protecting his clients’ interests.
Mr. Beresh can be contacted by:
Phone: 780-421-4766 or