archive photosTimeline: BC's legal profession

1858 – Colony of British Columbia established. Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie appointed Chief Justice. Admits the only barrister in the colony, Henry Crease, to practise law.

1869 – Crease assembles 13 barristers and solicitors to establish an association called the Law Society.

1884 – The Law Society is incorporated by an Act of the Legislature.

1897 – Law Society seal unveiled.

1899 – Law Society Benchers cite and suspend Attorney General Joseph Martin.

1900 – Former Attorney General Martin becomes Premier of BC.

1912 – Mabel Penery French is the first woman called to the Bar in BC.

1914 – Law schools open in Vancouver and Victoria, sponsored by the Law Society.

1921 – Canons of Legal Ethics adopted by the Law Society.

1921 – Canadian Bar Association incorporated.

1926 – Conference of Representatives of the Governing Bodies of the Legal Profession in the Provinces of Canada (now the Federation of Law Societies of Canada) formed.

1945 – UBC Faculty of Law opens.

1947 – Law Society relocates to Vancouver Courthouse basement, taking over the office previously occupied by the Provincial Game Warden.

1947 – Gold Medal for law students adopted.

1947 – Special Compensation Fund established.

1949 – Court library system expansion begins.

1953 – Andrew Joe is the first Chinese Canadian to be called to the Bar in BC.

archive photos1955 – Benchers elected by County for the first time.

1957 – Edsworth McAuley Searles is the first Black person called to the Bar in BC.

1959 – Continuing Legal Education program begins.

1962 Alfred J. Scow is the first Aboriginal person called to the Bar in BC.

1964 – James Bland retires after 66 years as an employee of the Law Society.

1969 – Law Society proposes a Legal Aid Society.

1969 – Law Foundation established.

1970 – Law Society publishes Professional Conduct Handbook.

1971 – Mary Southin is the first woman elected a Bencher of the Law Society.

1971 – Conduct Review Committee established.

1975 – BC Law Library Foundation (later Courthouse Libraries BC) incorporated.

1975 – UVic Faculty of Law opens.


1977 – Mary Southin, QC is the first woman Treasurer of the Law Society.

1977 – First Law Society Building opens at 1148 Hornby Street in Vancouver.

1979 – Legal Services Society Act merges Legal Services Commission and Legal Aid Society.

1983 – First Benchers’ Bulletin published.

1983 – Professional Legal Training Program commences.

1988 – Jack Webster, Mayor Anne Clarke and Dr. Anne Autor appointed first Law Society Lay Benchers.

1988 – Complainants’ Review Committee established.

archive photos1988 – Legal Wise, a television show promoting public legal education developed in partnership with the Law Society, premieres on CBC.

1992 – Move to second Law Society Building at 845 Cambie Street in Vancouver.

1994 – Mission statement adopted: the principal aim of the Law Society is a public well served by a competent, honourable and independent legal profession.

1994 – Discrimination ombudsperson (now the equity ombudsperson) appointed.

1995 – Law Society is a “local public body” under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

1996 – Linda Loo, QC is elected the first Chinese Canadian Bencher.

1999 – Under a new Legal Profession Act, Warren Wilson, QC is the first modern-day “President” of the Law Society.

1999 – Membership in the Law Society reaches 10,000.

2002 – Pro Bono Law of BC society formed.

2007 – Anna Fung, QC is first Chinese Canadian President of the Law Society.

2008 – Law Society launches Articling Registry in partnership with Canadian Bar Association.

2009 – Law Society launches Continuing Professional Development program.


archive photosPhotos:

1. Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, first Justice of the new colony of British Columbia. Image A-08953 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives.

2. Sir Henry Crease, “father” of the Law Society. Image F-07698 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives.

3. Law Society seal, 1897.

4. Vancouver Legal Baseball Team, 1900. Image from the Legal Archives of British Columbia.

5. Mabel Penery French.

6. First UBC Law class, 1945. Image courtesy of University of British Columbia Archives.

7. Andrew Joe

8. Opening of the Vancouver Law Courts, 1979. Image from the Legal Archives of British Columbia.

9. Lay Benchers, 1988.

antique ink bottles10. On the set of Legal Wise, 1989. Image from the Legal Archives of British Columbia.