Foundation of ISTAR

Michael Niven

LL.B (Hons) LL.M. Q.C.
Foundation Chair 

Michael was born in Bathgate, Scotland, and graduated from law schools at the University of Dundee and the University of Alberta. He practised family and criminal law in Edinburgh, Scotland before emigrating to Calgary in 1981 with Catherine Simmons, a 4th generation Albertan. Michael has practised law in Calgary since 1982. He is one of the founding partners of his 35 lawyer firm.

His practice includes energy law, regulatory matters, civil litigation, dependent adult and estate litigation. He has represented individuals accused of professional negligence by various professional bodies, including the Law Society of Alberta and the Real Estate Council of Alberta. He has appeared before all levels of Court and many regulatory tribunals in Alberta.

Michael began stuttering uncontrollably at age 4 and didn’t stop until he met Einer Boberg and Deborah Kully at ISTAR in May of 1987. That led to an interest in self help for people who stutter, the first Canadian conference for Canadian self help groups for PWS at Banff in August 1991 and the founding of CAPS, now the Canadian Stuttering Association or CSA. Michael has worked with the ISTAR Foundation since 2013 and is currently Chair.

Michael is counsel to the Canadian Cancer Society Alberta/NWT Branch and CSA.

He was active in provincial politics from 2003 until 2014, co-chairing Alison Redford’s successful leadership bid for the Alberta PC’s in 2011, Michael chaired the Provincial Court Nominating Committee from 2008 to 2014 and was nominee of the Attorney-General of Alberta to the Federal Judiciary Advisory Committee for the Province of Alberta 2008-2011. His other professional associations include the Canadian Bar Association, the Calgary Bar Association, Director, Freehold Owners Association of Alberta, the Law Society of Scotland and Lawyers Associated Worldwide.

Michael was designated Queen’s Counsel in 2006 and awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Michael’s greatest source of pride is his family. Catherine is a best-selling, award winning writer of fiction. Their three children Elliot, Garret and Sylvanna pursue their respective passions with fierce determination.