The Law Society Award for Leadership in Legal Aid recognizes lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the provision of legal aid in British Columbia.

This award is presented on a biennial basis in odd-numbered years.

Award criteria

Current and former Law Society members, with the exception of employees of the Legal Services Society or its board members, are eligible for the award.

Nominees must demonstrate their commitment to the provision of legal aid in one or more of the following ways:

  • by consistently taking on legal aid files over a number of years; and
  • by performing legal aid duty counsel.

Additional consideration may be given to current and former Law Society members who publicly demonstrate a commitment to legal aid, whether through public advocacy, writing articles or performing research designed to support a strong legal aid system, engaging in law reform to improve the state of legal aid, or participating in the governance of Legal Services Society.

2019 award recipients

2019 award recipients

The Law Society was pleased to award the 2019 Award for Leadership in Legal Aid to Marilyn Sandford, QC; Christopher Johnson, QC; Peter Leask, QC; H. William Veenstra, QC; and Richard Fowler, QC, on behalf of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers.

The Association of Legal Aid Lawyers began as a small group of lawyers, who later incorporated as a society with the object of advocating on behalf of those who take on the majority of legal aid cases and do the majority of duty counsel work.

In 2019 the association published a report titled Restoring Funding for Legal Aid, launched a public relations campaign, and met several times with the attorney general to make the case for increased legal aid funding. After receiving support from its membership for a withdrawal of services, the association reached agreements with the provincial government to increase funding for legal aid lawyers and to establish a formal negotiating relationship between the association, the Legal Services Society and the government.

“The Association of Legal Aid Lawyers not only secured significant funding commitments, but attracted public support for legal aid, and ensured a place for legal aid lawyers in future policy decisions. To achieve so much within a year is nothing short of remarkable,” said Christopher McPherson, QC, chair of the Leadership in Legal Aid Award Selection Committee.”

Further information

For further information about the award, contact Bencher Relations.