Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Justice Anna Loparco began her vocation as an advocate long before she went to law school.
Justice Loparco, who was appointed to the Bench on March 8, 2019, was born and raised in Edmonton by immigrant Italian parents who came to Canada with nothing more than their suitcase.
From an early age — as her parents did not speak much English and had only elementary-level education, and her elder sister was born deaf — Justice Loparco had to read and interpret all the mail, learn to file tax returns and deal with government departments on their behalf.
She learned from these experiences the importance of effective communication and the need to understand the systems that govern the world. She also discovered first-hand the challenges faced by those with limited resources.
“I had to grow up quickly, but I believe it made me more focused on pursuing a career that would allow me to help others,” says Justice Loparco.
“I identify with and understand the struggles regarding access to justice because of language, education and economic barriers experienced by many new Canadians.”
After graduating from Archbishop O’Leary High School in 1991, Justice Loparco attended the University of Alberta School of Business, earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1995. She then worked for the business planning and real estate departments of Canadian National Railway for five years, in both Edmonton and Montreal.
While in Montreal, she earned degrees from McGill Law School in Common Law and Civil Law (With Great Distinction) in 2002 and obtained her MBA from McGill University (Dean’s List) in 2003.
During her summer breaks, she worked first with Klett, Rooney, Lieber & Schorling in Philadelphia and in the following year with Stikeman Elliot’s Montreal office. After graduating from McGill, she completed the Bar admission requirements for the New York and Quebec Bars.
Justice Loparco and her husband started a family during the McGill years and he recalls that, when sitting for the full-day New York Bar exam, she met him in a park near the exam centre in Albany so she could nurse her infant daughter during the breaks.
She returned to Edmonton with her family in 2004, gave birth to their second daughter, articled for a second time and was admitted to the Alberta Bar. She worked at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, which later became Dentons LLP, and eventually became a partner, holding this position until she was appointed to the Bench.
As a lawyer, Justice Loparco practiced in a broad variety of litigation areas including contracts, insurance, family law, estate disputes, professional liability, product liability, personal injury, constitutional law, privacy law and administrative law. She was also a trademark agent and practiced in intellectual property litigation.
Notably, while serving as counsel to the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, she helped to establish a new framework for child representation that sought to improve the child’s right to participate in proceedings that affect them. She also represented several children in sexual and physical abuse cases, acted as a liaison to the Courts and the province, provided advice on investigations of deaths and serious injury of children in care, and recommended legislative changes to improve children’s services in Alberta.
She is trilingual (English, French, and Italian) and has published and presented at conferences on the role of counsel, constitutional rights, expert evidence and securing intellectual property rights.
She also represented many clients on a pro bono basis, including individuals with limited income and mental health issues.
Throughout her career, she volunteered extensively at a wide range of organizations, with much of it directed at bridging apparent gaps in the legal system.
From the Bench, Justice Loparco continues to do what she can to meet the needs she sees in the justice system. She co-chairs the Restorative Justice Court Committee, which is working with the community on alternative solutions to deal with crime, and is also the chair of the French Language and Interpretation Committee, which is implementing several initiatives to promote the greater use of French in the Courts and improve translation services.
The Edmonton-based Justice always aims to speak and write in a way that makes the law accessible to all parties, especially those whose circumstances may create challenges.
“Any person with a basic education should be able to read a court decision and understand how it might apply to their situation,” she says.
Her exuberance for life is not just shown in her passion for the law. She also works hard in her spare time, being a marathon runner, triathlete, and cross-country skier. In July of 2017 and 2019, she completed a 350-km bike ride in the Rocky Mountains in the Tour for Kids with Cancer.
Justice Loparco credits her drive to the support she receives from her family, her close friends and her community. Given her background, she aims to serve in a manner that is inclusive of all members of society and find creative ways to encourage parties to peacefully resolve their issues.