Mary Ainslie, QC—In the Spotlight

Practice Point

Mary Ainslie, QC—In the Spotlight
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December 2020

This month’s spotlight shines on Mary Ainslie, QC, Criminal Appeals and Special Prosecutions. Mary is a long-standing CLEBC volunteer who has contributed to many of our courses and publications, including multiple editions of Introducing Evidence at Trial. She recently presented at our 20th Annual Winning Advocacy Skills Workshop.

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?  

I was first introduced to CLEBC decades ago, as an articled student. My principal Bill Smart, QC asked me to do some research for a paper he was writing on the right to counsel, and then signed me up to attend the CLEBC conference.  The conference was excellent, and my first opportunity to hear lawyers and judges discuss and debate the practical application of legal principles. I have attended many more terrific CLEBC conferences over the years and have presented and co-chaired some of them. Always a great learning opportunity.

What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?

I am a co-editor of the CLEBC handbook, Introducing Evidence at Trial. I was a contributing author to the first edition and have been an editor for the last few editions. We hope that the handbook provides good summaries of common evidentiary issues and offers helpful practice tips.

What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?

My best memories are from the conferences that I was involved in organizing as it gave me a chance to work with other criminal lawyers and judges and hopefully create helpful programming. And, of course, getting to work with program lawyer Raymond Lee is always a pleasure.

What inspired you to practice criminal law?

I really enjoyed my first-year crim class, and then loved the court work through LSLAP and then the Legal Clinic at UBC’s law faculty. Then I clerked and found the Supreme Court criminal trials so interesting. The people in the criminal justice system – Crown, defence counsel, judges, bail supervisors, sheriffs, court clerks, admin staff all try hard to work well together.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

I have been very lucky to learn criminal law from many great lawyers and appear before many exceptional judges. I find it satisfying when I am able to share some of their wisdom, along with other insights from my personal experiences with the younger lawyers who are starting out.

What advice would you give newcomers who are interested in working in the legal profession?

Find a practice area or practice environment that you love. The practice of law is hard work, and probably impossible to do well if you don’t enjoy it.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

I feel very fortunate to have wonderful friends and family here and in Toronto, my hometown, and super colleagues at the BC Prosecution Service