Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and served as Chief Justice from 2000 to 2017. She recently called attention to the difficult lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic for the justice system across Canada. As underlined in an article she wrote in the Lawyers Daily, while justice is an essential service, most courts across Canada have had to shut down given their inability to offer their services at a distance. This threatens to further reduce access to justice in a system that was already struggling to maintain reasonable hearing times prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Justice McLachlin, the current crisis highlights the urgent need for investment to revamp and reform the justice system, and for the legal profession to review its procedures and innovate to become more efficient in the context of today’s technology. Beverley McLachlin is a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Committee.
Ms. McLachlin graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.A. (Honours) in Philosophy in 1965; an M.A. in Philosophy in 1968; and an LL.B. in 1968. Ms. McLachlin practiced law in Alberta and British Columbia and taught law at the University of British Columbia; before being named to the County Court of Vancouver in 1981; the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1981; and the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 1985. She was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1988 and to the Supreme Court of Canada on January 7, 2000, the first woman to hold that position. She retired as Canada’s longest serving Chief Justice. As Chief Justice. Ms. McLachlin chaired the Canadian Judicial Council, the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada, and the Board of Governors of the National Judicial Institute. Ms. McLachlin participated in 2,094 decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and authored 442 opinions. She has written and spoken on a wide range of subjects in many areas of law, including constitutional law, criminal law, commercial and corporate law and dispute resolution in the courts and through arbitration and mediation. Ms. McLachlin currently works as an arbitrator and mediator in Canada and internationally and sits as a justice of the Hong Kong Final Court of Appeal, the Singapore International Commercial Court and is a panel member of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. She pursues her work for better access to justice as President of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice. In addition, she is engaged in writing fiction and non-fiction. Beverley McLachlin serves on a number of charitable boards and is Honorary Patron of various charitable and cultural institutions. She is an Honorary Bencher of The Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, The Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple and the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple. She is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Construction Lawyers, and the International Academy of Construction Lawyers. She is the Visitor of Queen’s College at Cambridge University and Visitor of Massey College at the University of Toronto. She serves as Honorary Colonel to the office of the Judge Advocate-General. Ms. McLachlin is the recipient of over thirty-five honorary degrees and has been appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, amongst other honours. Ms. McLachlin is the author of numerous legal articles and publications and has given lectures in Canada and around the world on legal and constitutional matters. She is co-author of the first and second editions of The Canadian Law of Architecture and Engineering. Her first novel, Full Disclosure, was published in May, 2018; and her memoir, Truth be Told, was released in September, 2019.