Why He’s Top 40: For raising money to help find a cure for cancer while also raising the profile of his law firm.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “The entrepreneurship. There’s a culture of great companies that thrive in Edmonton and I like the fact that Edmonton has a core of owner-managed businesses.”
Richard Kirby’s beginnings at Felesky Flynn LLP were humble. “My father was at the firm before me,” he says. “So I always tell people my first job was checking coats when we had the [company] Christmas party at my house when I was eight years old.” He has come a long way since then. After spending his law-school summers working at the firm, he joined the team full-time, and was made office managing partner in 2010.
It should come as no surprise that Kirby worked his way up from coat checker to partner. He has never been one to back away from a challenge. In 2007, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the CIBC Climb for the Cure, an event that raises money for breast-cancer research. “My brother had always wanted to climb Everest.” he explains. “And then Climb for the Cure came up.” The two took on the challenge together, raising $75,000 and participating in the grueling climb. Despite months of training, it was still physically and mentally exhausting. There were many moments when the only thing that kept him going was the drive to eradicate cancer. “If it hadn’t been for a cause, I think I would have turned around,” he says.
Climbing the mountain with his brother was particularly significant for Kirby. At the age of 23, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which eventually spread to his lymph nodes. During treatment, his brother, a full-time university student himself, attended Richard’s classes for him and would bring him the lecture notes afterward. “We beat cancer as a team and we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as a team,” says Kirby, who has been in remission since 1998.
Kirby plans to devote much of his time to charities that are working to find a cure for cancer. However, he probably won’t be climbing another mountain any time soon. “I think about it almost every week, just the sense of accomplishment. It was hard. I don’t really like exercise or any type of physical exertion,” he says. “That’s probably why I’m a tax lawyer.”