Charles C. LockeBenchers to honour Charles C. Locke, QC with Law Society Award

The Benchers have chosen Charles C. Locke, QC to receive the Law Society Award in 2006, in recognition of his outstanding career — as counsel and a judge — and a lawyer who has committed many hours to his profession and community. Praised by colleagues as “a professional of unimpeachable good character,” he has earned a reputation for integrity and honesty.

His early years

Born in Winnipeg, Charlie Locke joined a family in law. He embraced his family’s legal tradition to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. After a degree at UBC, he was called to the BC bar in 1942. His early adult years were in active service with the Canadian Army and, having completed training on the Coast, he was posted overseas and trained with the 5th Medium Battery. In July 1944 Mr. Locke landed in Normandy with his regiment and participated in the Battle of Normandy, Channel Ports and Scheldt Estuary and the Rhine Crossing into Germany.

A career in law 

After his return home to Canada from overseas after the war, Mr. Locke articled and later practised with his father’s firm of Locke Lane Guild and Sheppard until 1955 when he became a partner at Ladner Downs. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1960.

His long and distinguished career as counsel includes many interesting roles, including as Counsel for the Workmen’s Compensation Board, Royal Commission of Inquiry (1950 and 1960), Counsel to Chief Justice Sloan on the Royal Commission on Forestry in BC (1954-1955), Commission Counsel to Chief Justice, Royal Commission on Voter Fraud (1975) and Counsel to the Government of BC on aboriginal affairs (1975-1978).

He was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1978 and was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 1988 where he served until his retirement from the Bench in 1992.

After retirement as a judge, he rejoined the profession and served as a member of the Pensions Appeal Board and in commercial and insurance law, in ­particular appellate work and in arbitrations and alternative dispute resolution.

Professional service

In 2007, as he turns 90, Charles C. Locke will celebrate 65 years in the profession. Over that time he has built a full career and a full life. He and his wife Elinor, who passed away in 1975, raised three sons and three daughters.

His professional service reveals his commitment. Mr. Locke was a Bencher from 1960 to 1972, Law Society Treasurer from 1971 to 1972 and President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada from 1974 to 1975. He is now a Life Bencher.

The Canadian Bar Association also has benefitted from his talents. He was a member of the Council and served as Vice-President of the CBA for British Columbia from 1968-1969.

Former Law Society Secretary Alfred Watts, QC observed in his History of the Legal Profession in BC that Charlie Locke is to be thanked for his contributions to pre-call education in the mid-1960s by transforming the Law Society’s system of student lectures to a new system of tutorials. He also helped clarify and delineate the statutory responsibilities of the Law Society from other activities in the late 1960s. This was an opportunity for the BC Branch of the CBA to step up and engage many younger lawyers in law reform and other activities of the bar.

Charlie Locke’s nominators summarize his contributions this way:

“Mr. Locke, a soldier who served his country with distinction, a loving husband and father, leader in his church, a most highly respected lawyer and judge, has certainly made the kind of contribution to his country, community and profession which we believe makes him eminently well qualified as a candidate for the Law Society Award. He is the kind of truly exceptional member of the profession and the community whose receipt of the Award would strengthen the importance of the Award and, at the same time, link the generations of lawyers and judges in this province who have strived to preserve the rule of law and system of justice that makes possible the independence of the bench and bar in the interest of the public.”

In recommending him for the 2006 Award, the Selection Committee added this: “Despite his many years of service already, Charles C. Locke, QC demonstrates as active an interest as he ever did in the history of the Law Society, in the current work of the Benchers and in the future of our profession. It is a testament to his devotion and an inspiration for the rest of us.”

Nowhere is this devotion more evident than in a three-part series he penned, called Reflections on the Governance of the Legal Profession in British Columbia. The series was published between 2002 and 2003 in the Advocate. Charlie Locke imparted these words to future generations of lawyers:

“One looks at the problems that have faced the profession in this province now for 125 years and endeavours to find a guiding thread. And there is: It is ethics, or morality if you will. In the dizzily moving world of the 21st century, it is impossible to predict the new problems that will arise. But one can look at the past to make one major deduction: the Law Society’s affairs must be conducted publicly within a framework of honour, ­accompanied by appropriate action. The moment the profession forgets itself and lets its strict standards slide or fails to appreciate the public trust reposed on the Law Society, and in each lawyer, the future is at hazard.”

Bench & Bar Dinner: November 23

Plan to join your colleagues for presentation of the Law Society Award to Charles C. Locke, QC and also presentation of the Georges A. Goyer, QC Memorial Award (recipient to be announced). It's all happening at the annual Bench & Bar Dinner in Vancouver on November 23. Watch for details.