Lynn Smith

Former British Columbia Supreme Court judge and executive director of the National Judicial Institute, the Honorable Lynn Smith has been distinguished for the rigour of her judgments, one of which found the prohibition against physician-assisted dying to be constitutionally inoperative, a decision later upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Honourable Lynn Smith, B.A. (University of Calgary), LL.B. (University of British Columbia), LL.D. (Hon.) (Simon Fraser University), was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1998. She served as a justice of that Court until her retirement in September 2012. As a judge, she heard and decided cases in diverse areas of private and public law, including some constitutional challenges to legislation, such as Carter v. Canada

Prior to her appointment as a judge, she practised law at Shrum, Liddle and Hebenton (now McCarthy Tetrault), specializing in civil litigation, from 1974 to 1981. She taught law at the University of British Columbia from 1981 to 1997. She has published books and articles in the fields of Charter equality rights, civil litigation and evidence, human rights, administrative law, and women's equality. She was dean of the U.B.C. law faculty from 1991 to 1997, and served as chair of the Canadian Council of Law Deans. 

She was a founding director of Canada’s Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, and served as its national chair and chair of its legal committee. She was also a founding director and chair of the West Coast LEAF Association. She represented LEAF in several cases involving women’s equality, including Brooks v. Canada Safeway and R. v. Sullivan

In 2005-2006, Lynn Smith was executive director of the National Judicial Institute (N.J.I.), on secondment from the Court. She serves on the faculty of the N.J.I. Charter and Evidence Workshops as well as the program for new federally appointed judges. She has been involved in international judicial education exchanges with China, Scotland, Ghana, and Viet Nam. 

She served on the boards of the Vancouver Community Legal Assistance Society, the Law Foundation of British Columbia (for a term as its chair), the Vancouver Foundation, B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre (as chair), Science World, and the Vancouver Port Corporation. She is currently on the board of the Vancouver Opera Foundation. 

Currently, Lynn Smith is an honorary professor at the U.B.C. faculty of law and teaches a seminar on Charter litigation. Recent publications include: “The Equality Rights” (with William Black, 2005 and 2013), Supreme Court Law Review (2d); “The Ring of Truth, the Clang of Lies: Assessing Credibility in the Courtroom,” University of New Brunswick Law Journal (2012). 

Lynn Smith was designated Queen’s Counsel and received a Vancouver Y.W.C.A. Woman of Distinction Award in 1992. She received the Georges Goyer Award from the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association in 2003 and an honorary doctorate in law by Simon Fraser University in 2004. In 2016, the U.B.C. Law Alumni Association gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation appointed her a Trudeau mentor in 2017.