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The Inn

The Law Courts Inn

THE SOCIETY

The Law Courts Inn is operated by The Lawyers’ Inn Society, established in 1972.

The objects of The Lawyers’ Inn Society are to foster and promote understanding, co operation, exchange of ideas and comradeship between all members of the legal profession, and to provide a forum for the full and free discussion of all matters of interest to its members. ​

The Inn is modeled after the Inns of Court in London, England, where for centuries barristers and judges have convened for lunches and dinners. Call ceremonies and special events in the life of the profession are held at the Inn.

The home of the Bench and Bar – where the culture of the profession is passed from one generation to the next.

A Letter from the President

2016 / 2017 Board of Directors

THE EXECUTIVE

OFFICERS

President: Sandra L. Kovacs
Vice-President: Nazeer T. Mitha
Past-President: Timothy Delaney
Secretary: Peter J. Roberts
Treasurer: Jennifer Woolley
Vice-Treasurer: Jonathan M.S. Woolley
Past-past President: Anne B. Chopra

DIRECTORS-AT-LARGE

Adam Howden-Duke
Angela Folino
William Westeringh, Q.C.
Claire E. Hunter
Darren Stewart
Elizabeth A. Reid
Fred Wynne
Jonathan Williams
Kevin Westell
Natalie Parsonage
Nolan Hurlburt
Robyn Jarvis
Terry Robertson, Q.C.
Peter Spencer, Q.C.
The Hon. Wally Oppal, Q.C.
Bruce Fraser, Q.C.
Christopher Harvey, Q.C.
Walley Lightbody, Q.C.

(with credit to Bruce Fraser, Q.C.)

OUR STORY

Vancouver’s Lawyers’ Inn Society was founded in 1971, first opening its doors in the Marc building on the corner of Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets. The founders of the Inn, mostly directors of the Vancouver Bar Association, thought it would be a good idea to bring the local legal profession together on a daily basis by establishing a dining and social club for lawyers and judges, modeled after the Inns of Court in London, England.

With the backing of the Vancouver Bar, and the convenient location, downtown lawyers and the judges gave the Lawyers’ Inn their full support. The doors opened on May 14, 1972. The Inn was an immediate success signing up 500 members in its inaugural year.

At the heart of the Inn was the Common Table. What distinguished this table, besides the people who ate there, was its size and weight anchored as it was by a half ton of steel supports. It was not meant to be moved. It attracted any and all members of the Bar – it was not exclusive.

The Inn’s social committee worked hard in making the Inn relevant to the Bar. They staged an annual Christmas party where a well-known member of the Bar would dress up in a fool’s outfit. If a willing fool could not be found the default person was the President of the Lawyers Inn.

The Vancouver Bar Association held its meetings in the Inn as did the various subsections of the CBABC. The Bar’s tutorial programs were conducted at the Inn before more formalized articled training began.

In 1972, Martin Taylor, with an eye for tradition, came back from a trip to Middle Temple Hall in London, England with four ancient Elizabethan oak floor boards dating back to the 18th Century, a gift from our brothers and sisters at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. These boards were fashioned into a table with bench seating four persons. This iconic table remains on display at the Inn today.

Another tradition of the Inn was the awarding of a pewter mug to the lawyer who best exemplified the spirit of the Inn in that year. That tradition continues today.

In 1976, the legal community was excited to see the new Arthur Erickson designed courthouse rise up in the middle of downtown. The main feature of the design was Erickson’s trademark skylight. The structure, along with government office in the block to the North, created a park-like setting for the surrounding towers. One of the architectural features was a large space devoted to a restaurant. It seemed from the drawings that the whole complex was built around this room. It looked out over a large reflecting pool, later call Lake Nemetz after the then-Chief Justice.

The then Board of Directors of the Inn approached the Chief Justice and offered to take over the space and operate a public restaurant and the Lawyer’s Inn. The thinking was that, as good as the Marc’s location had proved to be, it was a building which would soon be razed and what better place for the Lawyer’s Inn than the Courthouse. The Chief Justice suggested that there be a judge’s table opposite the judge’s entrance to the Inn and it remains that way to this day.

February the 15th, 1981 was the Lawyer’s Inn last day at the Marc before it moved to the Court House. The occasion was commemorated at the Common table by a poem, with a serving of our butter tarts, which remain on our menu today:

Read the Poem

The Law Courts Inn Society

PAST PRESIDENTS

According to the Society filings in the Registry in 1976, the Lawyers Inn Society had 321 voting members and 137 non-voting members. The Board of Directors included:

Bruce Fraser, Keith Benson, Christopher Holmes, Donald Risk, Dennis Creighton, Derek Cave, John Montgomery, Randy Zien, and Laing Brown.

Women did fraternize at the Inn but the first record of a female Director was when Lynn Smith sat on the Board in 1978. She was followed by Gina Quijano and Lorraine Shore, both joining the Board in 1982.

By 1984 the list of Directors doubled and the membership quadrupled. According to the Society filings, the Lawyers Inn Society had 1,347 voting members and 233 non-voting members. The Board of Directors included (as they were then): Wally Lightbody, Bill Scarth, QC, Lorraine Shore, Roderick Senft, Albert Mackinnon, Jon Tollestrup, David Fredrickson, Peter Steele, Anthony Pantages, David Frankel, Leigh Webber, Allan Francis, David Donohoe, Clive Bird, Donald Brenner, Winton Derby, Vince Orchard, David Macdonald, QC.

The Inn sustained those healthy membership numbers, hovering around 1,200, until 2003. Membership numbers have hovered around 350 since 2003, similar to the early days of the Inn.

The Law Courts Inn Past Presidents

LIST OF PAST PRESIDENTS

  • David Vickers
  • Michael Herman
  • Bruce Fraser
  • Keith Benson
  • Jack Giles
  • David Frankel
  • Don Yule
  • Christopher Harvey
  • Bill Scarth
  • Peter Spencer
  • Alan Ross
  • Anne Chopra
  • Tim Delaney
  • Sandy Kovacs

Our Supporters

DONORS AND FRIENDS

Platinum $10,000

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Hakemi & Ridgedale LLP

Gold $5,000

Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP
Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP
Gowling WLG
KazLaw Injury Lawyers
Lawson Lundell LLP
Lindsay Kenney LLP
Singleton Urquhart LLP
Narwal Litigation LLP
MLT Aikins LLP

Silver $2,500

Boughton Law Corporation
The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia
Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP
Dentons Canada LLP
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP
Edwards, Kenny & Bray LLP
Guild Yule LLP
Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP
Harris & Company LLP
Harper Grey LLP
Hamilton Howell Bain & Gould
Hunter Litigation Chambers Law Corporation
Lindsay LLP
Richard B. Lindsay, QC and Jan L. Lindsay, QC
MacKenzie Fujisawa LLP
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Miller Thomson LLP
Murphy Battista LLP
Owen Bird Law Crporation
QA Law
Richards Buell Sutton LLP
Slater Vecchio LLP
Stikeman Elliott LLP
Trial Lawyers Association of BC
Watson Goepel LLP

Bronze $1,000

Branch MacMaster LLP
Collette Parsons Harris
Dolden Wallace Follick LLP
Eyford Macaulay Shaw & Padmanabhan LLP
Harris & Brun
Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP
Mackoff & Company
Murray Jamieson Barristers & Solicitors
Pettit & Company
Sager Legal Advisors LLP
ZSA Legal Recruitment
The Counsel Network
Dr. Gary Botting, Barrister

Friends $500

Wendy Baker, QC
D. Michael Bain
The Hon. Robert J. Bauman, CJBC
Douglas R. Eyford, QC
Bruce F. Fraser, QC
Christopher Harvey, QC
Arlene H. Henry, QC
Craig. A.B. Ferris, QC
The Hon. Lance S.G. Finch, QC
Sandra L. Kovacs
Walley P. Lightbody, QC
Michelle Ma (Phase 1 and Phase 2)
Karen F. Nordlinger, QC
Onyx Law Group
David P.R. Roberts, QC
Peter Roberts
Peter Spencer, QC
William Westeringh, QC
Jonathan L. Williams
Barbara Cornish
Robert D. Holmes, QC
Anthony A, Vecchio, QC
Herman H. Van Ommen, QC
John J.L. Hunter, QC
Anne M. Stewart, QC
Israel Chafetz, QC
Elizabeth M. Vogt, QC
Michael J. Slater, QC
Mark D. Andrews, QC
D. Geoffrey Cowper, QC
David Brown
Marvin R.V. Storrow, QC
Sharon Matthews, QC
Hein Poulus, QC
Donald W. Yule, QC
Nathanson Schachter & Thomson LLP
Claire E. Hunter
Stein K. Gudmundseth, QC
John D. McAlpine, QC
SHK Law Corporation
Elizabeth A. Reid
Julie Gibson
Andrew D. Gay & Tamara M. Levy
Douglas MacAdams, QC
Thomas Crabtree

A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Friends,

The Law Courts Inn is operated by The Lawyers’ Inn Society, established in 1972. The objects of The Lawyers’ Inn Society are to foster and promote understanding, co‑operation, exchange of ideas and comradeship between all members of the legal profession, and to provide a forum for the full and free discussion of all matters of interest to its members.

The Inn is modeled after the Inns of Court in London, England, where for centuries barristers and judges have convened for lunches and dinners. Call ceremonies and special events in the life of the profession are held at the Inn. It is the Inn – the home of the Bench and Bar – where the culture of the profession is passed on from one generation to the next.

We host countless significant events for the local legal community including judicial welcoming and memorial receptions following special sittings, LAP’s annual gratitude lunch, law clerks’ dinners, firm holiday parties, the Inns of Court program, and CBABC section meetings. The Inn is also a physical space for lawyers, students, and the judiciary to come together on a daily basis to dine.

The Law Courts Inn is an extraordinary space that is, essentially, our community centre. In recent years it had fallen into disrepair, but our directors rolled up their sleeves and have worked hard to revitalize the Inn.

We determined that the best way to move forward would be to start again. In 2016, we engaged a new general manager, Steve Chamli, and a new executive chef, Jack Eng. Both are committed to improving the Inn’s quality of food and service and they look forward to welcoming you for lunch between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. daily.

We have also instituted new programming, including our Lunching with Leaders series, and new annual events, including our kids’ holiday breakfast with Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson as the man in red himself.

Additionally, the Inn has endorsed a Declaration of renewed friendship with the historic Honourable Society of the Middle Temple meaning you, as a member in good standing of the Law Courts Inn, can now visit Middle Temple Hall in London, England as an invited guest. Please Click Here for more information. In pursuing revitalization, our directors reached out to the local legal community with a fundraising initiative, chaired by director Will Westeringh, Q.C. Our original fundraising goal was $75,000 and I am delighted to report that, to date, we have raised $171,000 with generous contributions from the following community partners: Link to table of Donors

Lastly, we ask for your support by way of membership. The annual membership fee of $150 is pro-rated to the date of purchase. Members will receive all benefits of membership, including the privilege of monthly invoicing, access to the now-enlarged members-only section, a free beverage and light snacks at our monthly afternoon socials on the last Thursday of every month, and a preferred rate for Lunching with Leaders events.

Find nine colleagues to join you, you will receive a 10% discount. Even better, enlist your firm: a corporate membership of 20 or more lawyers receives a discount of 20%.

To sign up for a membership, please complete the individual or corporate membership application forms in PDF on this page, email them to our business manager Lynda Roberts at lynda@lawcourtsinn.com, and kindly arrange for payment.

We are pleased to welcome you to the Home for the Bench and Bar.

Yours truly,

Sandra L. Kovacs
President, Lawyers Inn Society

THE POEM

Here gather a merry band of men Never to sit round this table again. Ten years have we come to eat and talk Telling daily what triumphs we’ve wrought

We place our orders the gossiping starts Amid clam chowder, the student and tart The law is also mentioned in passing And what we learn here is long tasting:

Sandwiched between Jacob and Bert Is to hear the wild wind blow What one has forgotten about law and life The other is sure to know

The firm of Brown Benson and Fiddes Keep things lively it seems Benson is droll, Deering robust While silent Brown is never seen.

Those who dispense advice Having dipped into wisdoms well Are eminent counsel Oliver and Giles So we hear them tell.

We remember the others who No longer frequent this place Chairman Tom, Norm Samuels And Glen McMaster-His Grace.

Juniors are here we welcome all There sits Aason and Bowes. Montgomery comes late and Martin Tells us only of what he knows.

The red head deserves a verse You know of whom I speak He rises without leaving a thought Having talked for the whole week

There are gentlemen at Table Albeit only a few Soft spoken Alf Clarke and Thoughtful Ken Yule are two

Who will move this half ton Table To Erickson’s eerie on high Weighted down with memories And an occasional sigh?