A lawyer experienced at getting answers to potentially explosive questions about police conduct has been named the lead counsel at the public inquiry into the failed investigation of serial killer Robert Pickton.

Art Vertlieb was one of two commission lawyers at last year's public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, sharing the task of questioning dozens of witnesses including the officers involved in Dziekanski's fatal confrontation at Vancouver's airport.

He will perform the same duties at the inquiry into the missing and murdered women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

It's not clear when the hearings will begin, but current Attorney General Mike de Jong wants the final report by the end of next year.

Earlier this week, de Jong announced former attorney general Wally Oppal, who was a judge for decades before entering politics, would lead the inquiry.

The probe will examine why police failed to catch Pickton as he hunted sex workers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, continuing for years even after he caught the attention of police.