The Honourable Judge Barbara Flewelling—In the Spotlight

Practice Point

The Honourable Judge Barbara Flewelling—In the Spotlight

November 2020

The Honourable Judge Barbara Flewelling is a former CLEBC county coordinator and currently edits our Small Claims Act & Rules: Annotated. She works as Provincial Court Judge for Campbell River.

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?

As a newly called lawyer in 1995, I was passionate about ongoing legal education. I began my legal career in Prince George and joined CLEBC as a county coordinator. This involved organizing and facilitating previously recorded conferences or seminars for viewing outside the lower mainland. It allowed lawyers to have the benefit of regular ongoing legal education without the additional time and expense of travel to the lower mainland. My law practice eventually took me to Courtenay and then Victoria, and I continued to volunteer in that capacity in both cities.

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

I recently became the editor of Small Claims Act & Rules: Annotated and have the privilege of working with a group of dedicated, hardworking people. Our goal is to increase the accessibility of this valuable resource and make it much easier to locate a particular reference. We include case law that not only relates to a specific section of the Act or a Rule, but is also of general interest. For example, new sections include contract law, trespass and nuisance as well as employment law.

What inspired you to become a judge?

My primary inspiration comes from a love and passion for the law. Closely related to that is my desire to advance the law, strive to achieve justice and fairness for all people before the courts, and at the same time, foster a safe, inclusive and enriched community. A judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia hears a large volume of criminal and family cases and must make daily decisions that affect the lives of individuals and communities. I wanted to be involved in making those important decisions.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

Without a doubt, being a judge has been the most intellectually stimulating and rewarding experience of my legal career. It is incredibly rewarding to observe people who had the courage to overcome a history of substance use, trauma, mental health issues, poverty, and who, in spite of those overwhelming challenges, turned their lives around to become healthy, happy, and productive members of their families and community.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received?

The most valuable advice I gave to myself:  Go to law school!

I received the second most valuable piece of advice a long time ago:  Don’t let the clouds of uncertainty or fear of the unknown, hold you back from establishing and achieving your goals.  Put another way, focus on what you are passionate about, what you care about and let that be your guide.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

I am passionate about learning as much as I can. That includes history, philosophy, astronomy, and many other topics. I love reading books and typically have stacks of books scattered throughout my home. Knowledge of history is particularly important because if we don’t know where we came from, we don’t know who we truly are. One of my favourite quotes was by Marcus Tullius Cicero:

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

Anything you’d like to shamelessly promote? (favourite charity, social cause, etc.)

I will always promote continuing legal and judicial education.

In addition, I must promote the importance of access to justice. The response to the pandemic dramatically altered the way in which our courts operate. Among other things, we now have technology and processes that enable people to attend court virtually or by teleconference.  This has greatly improved access to the courts, particularly for those individuals who live in remote locations. I am extremely proud of the Provincial Court of British Columbia, my colleagues and the many people who have contributed so much during these difficult times.