Beverley McLachlin

B. September 7, 1943, Pincher Creek, Alberta

Beverley McLachlin was the first female Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court. Beverley grew up in Alberta and received her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Philosophy, Master’s in Philosophy, and LL.B. from the University of Alberta. In 1961, she was called to the Alberta Bar, and in 1971 she was called to the British Columbia Bar. At the start of her career she practiced law in both provinces, later going on to teach as an Associate Professor for the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia.

Beverley began her career as a judge in April 1981, when she was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. By September of the same year, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She was elected to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 1985, and by 1989, she became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

After serving almost eleven years as Justice, Beverley was appointed Canada’s first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. While in this post, she also chaired the Canadian Judicial Council, the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada, and the Board of Governors of the National Judicial Institute.

Beverley is said to have touched upon every area of the law during her career. Her goal was to bring the law to the public so that everyone could understand that the law belonged to them. She protected the institution and redefined the role of Chief Justice through her tireless efforts to do the best job that she could. She stated that a highlight of her career was being given the opportunity to be a judge during the transition of the 1982 Canada Act.

On December 15, 2017, Beverley retired from the Supreme Court. She is currently the Honorary Patron of the Institute of Parliamentary and Political Law and holds 33 honorary degrees from universities in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia.