William Hartnett retired as Vice-President and General Counsel of Imperial Oil Limited after practicing law for over 38 years. He has served in positions with responsibility for the management of Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil Canada litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution. Previously, he held the position of General Counsel at Imperial Oil subsidiary organizations: Esso Chemical Canada in Toronto and Esso Resources Canada Limited in Calgary.
Imperial Oil is one of Canada’s largest corporations and a leading member of the country’s petroleum industry. The company is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas, Canada’s largest petroleum refiner, a key petrochemical producer and a leading marketer with coast-to-coast supply and retail service station networks.
Mr. Hartnett has been active with the Canadian Bar Association, serving over 25 years on various committees, task forces, and on the CBA National Council, Ontario Council, Alberta Council, and the CBA-Ontario Executive Committee. He was the Chair of an Inquiry into Legal Aid in Ontario; this was 18-month province-wide inquiry which dealt with issues directly affecting the public’s access to justice in Ontario, which published a 106-page report in September 1986. He was a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Canadian Bar Association Systems of Justice Task Force, with a mandate to inquire into the state of the civil justice system in Canada and to develop strategies and mechanisms to facilitate the modernization of the civil justice system.
Further, he was the president of the Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution, a non-profit alliance of over 60 corporations and law firms working together to promote the early and creative resolution of business disputes; in July 2000, the organization merged with the Arbitration and Mediation Institute of Canada to become the ADR Institute of Canada, and Mr. Hartnett has served as a director of this new organization since September 2011.
He was a founder and member of the management committee of the Volunteer Lawyers Service in Alberta which is now part of Pro Bono Alberta. He served for eight years on the Canadian Bar Association’s Communications Committee and for seven years on the Canadian Bar Review Editorial Board. He also serves as a judge at the annual Jessup International Law Moot.
Mr. Hartnett served as the president of the Association of General Counsel of Alberta (1993-1995) and as a director of the Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation (1996-2000). He is the recipient of several awards in recognition of his contributions to the profession – the Canadian Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award (1990); the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s Robert V.A. Jones Award (1992); and the ADR Institute of Canada’s Lionel J. McGowan Award (2001).
He obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1976 and completed an Executive Program at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 1996.