Inns of Court program

The Inns of Court program, which gives junior barristers an opportunity to discuss practical and professional issues with the judiciary and senior lawyers, is now accepting applications for its fall session.

Founded in 1984 by Alan McEachern (then Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court) and fellow judges Henry Hutcheon, John Bouck and Josiah Wood, the program is modelled on the English tradition of junior lawyers meeting informally with senior practitioners and the judiciary over dinner to talk about current issues.

“We felt a loss of contact with the young lawyers,” McEachern said. “So we put something together where we could have a conversational, instructional talk with young lawyers about the Bar and professionalism and the civility that is so important to litigation.”

Program head, Mr. Justice Austin Cullen, agrees. “It allows people to communicate among themselves and with the judiciary in a relaxed and informal atmosphere and to feel a sense of the collegiality that should infuse the profession.”

Participants meet once every two weeks at the Vancouver courthouse restaurant for a 90-minute discussion on topics such as professionalism, the role of counsel, lawyers and the media, and ethical issues led by Supreme Court judges and senior lawyers. This is followed by an informal dinner and a chance to talk about whatever is topical.

McEachern adds that the judges and senior lawyers get as much out of the evening as the participants. “You find out what’s going on and what’s troubling [junior lawyers] and that’s very, very valuable.”

The program is sponsored by the Vancouver Bar Association, runs twice a year starting in September and January, and consists of six sessions. The cost of the program, including dinner, is $235. Lawyers with two to six years experience practising as barristers should contact program coordinator Michael Libby of Dolden, Wallace, Folick, at 604 891-0358 or, for more information. Registration is limited to 25 participants.

“As a young lawyer it’s easy to immerse yourself in the law, but it’s getting increasingly harder to gain practical experience and insight,” says Libby, who attended the Inns of Court in 1997. “What you’re dealing with in the program are situations that might actually arise in the practice of law.”