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Bob Kucheran and Brenda Osmond were looking for a fresh start. “Law was our common ground,” Kucheran says - photo by Martin Dee
Bob Kucheran and Brenda Osmond were looking for a fresh start. “Law was our common ground,” Kucheran says - photo by Martin Dee

UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 5 | May 7, 2009

Couple drops everything to pursue law degrees

By Sean Sullivan

At an age when many successful professionals are settling in to a comfortable lifestyle, Bob Kucheran and Brenda Osmond made an unusual choice.

Tossing aside an award-winning downtown condo, six-figure incomes and fulfilling professional lives in pharmacy, the married couple decided to start fresh.

This May, Kucheran and Osmond will graduate side-by-side from the UBC Faculty of Law.

“We decided, when it came to our previous life, ‘Been there, done that, what’s next?’” says Kucheran, 61. “We wanted to do something that would build upon our previous careers, something that would open new doors for us, and something we could do together.”

Osmond is already a UBC alumna, having graduated in the second-ever class of UBC’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program in the 1990s. Her studies there led her to the College of Pharmacists, where she was deputy registrar for 10 years.

Kucheran’s career includes stints in the Air Force and as a counsellor to troubled teens, before his most recent post as CEO of the B.C Pharmacy Association.

Now married for 15 years, the pair worked on opposing sides of the street in the pharmacy world: he in advocacy, she in regulation. In the late 1990s, they led the charge to have the morning-after pill made available to women in B.C. without a doctor’s prescription – a first in the world.

At UBC’s Law school, they’ve worked side-by-side. “I don’t believe I could have done this, were it not for the fact that Brenda and I were doing this together,” Kucheran says. “Our reading load in first year was somewhere around 150 to 200 pages of dense legal text every night, just to get ready for classes the next day.

“The fact that we were both going through that, we managed to pull each other along by our bootstraps,” he says.

The workload wasn’t the only challenge. In their second year of law school, Osmond was diagnosed with colon cancer. Her course selection had to be tailored to allow flexibility while she recovered from surgery then fought her way through a bi-weekly chemotherapy schedule. That’s where her competitive streak kicked in.

“I just couldn’t let Bob graduate before I did,” she laughs. “I’m now fully recovered, and we’re going to be on the convocation platform together.”

Both students have eagerly added extracurricular roles to their already bulging schedules. In 2008 he was elected executive director of the UBC Law Students’ Legal Advice Program, which provides free legal advice and representation at clinics located throughout Vancouver. Osmond was chosen by her peers as law school representative to the UBC Senate in her third year.

As they prepare for a new chapter in their careers – Kucheran in criminal law, Osmond in a broader role – they have high praise for UBC’s law program.

“The faculty and staff have been a great support to both of us. Neither of us has ever been aware of being treated differently because of our age,” Osmond says. “Obviously we’re old enough to be parents or grandparents to some of the students, but we just all felt like colleagues.”

That’s not to say their kids weren’t allowed to put in a couple of jabs.

Kucheran’s son Michael, now 26, was in his final year at UBC when his father began his first year of law. “He told his friends on the T-Birds football team that his old man doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up,” Kucheran laughs. “That’s pretty much true.”

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Last reviewed 11-May-2009

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