UVic Law confers honorary Doctorate on former BC Chief Justice Lance Finch

June 12, 2015

Dr. Lance Finch, former Chief Justice of the British Columbia and Yukon Courts of Appeal, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) at the June 10th University of Victoria Law Convocation. Conferred by UVic’s new Chancellor, Shelagh Rogers, the doctorate is a fitting honour for a man known for his professional accomplishments and highly regarded for his integrity and compassion. An effective and principled leader of the court, with unimpeachable integrity, Dr. Finch has been outspoken about challenges related to access to justice and he has been tireless in advocating that lawyers share responsibility to assist those without the means to access legal services. His approach to justice is characterized by wisdom, compassion, and profound concern for the law and its role in Canadian society.

UVic Law emeritus professor, John McLaren, talked about Dr. Finch’s connection to Victoria and UVic in his introduction of Dr. Finch during the ceremony:

“His association with this institution is a strong one as he studied at Victoria College from 1955 to 1958. While there, he credits Principal Harry Hickman and other faculty members with instilling in him a sense of intellectual and professional purpose. Not one to only hit the books, however, the young Finch took to the basketball court as well, and played on the Vikes team that won the 1958 Canadian Junior Men’s Championship.”

He studied at Victoria College, starting in 1955, before completing undergraduate and law degrees at the University of British Columbia. He practiced with the Vancouver firm of Guild Yule for 20 years, reaching partner in 1968.

Dr. Finch was appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court of B.C. from 1983 until 1993 when he was appointed to the BC and Yukon Courts of Appeal.

As one of the nominators for the Doctorate noted, Dr. Finch “has been especially concerned with the impact of the law on the less advantaged members of our society…He has spoken frequently and eloquently, and with passion on the challenge of access to justice and has been a tireless advocate of lawyers’ responsibilities to assist those without the means to access legal services.”

At the reception for our Law graduates that followed, Dr. Finch graciously awarded the William R. McIntyre Medal to Cassidy Thomson; awarded to a member of the graduating class in the Faculty of Law’s JD Program who exhibits the highest qualities of academic excellence, community service and student leadership. Francesco Silletta was also presented with the Gold Medal of the Law Society of British Columbia; awarded to the graduate with the highest cumulative GPA in the Faculty of Law’s JD Program. 

As someone with a long, impactful and successful career, and who is passionate about social justice and its applications, Dr. Finch had these words of advice for graduating students:

“The graduates of Uvic’s Law school are second to none... All of you who are receiving degrees today have the opportunity to make the world a better place… Your generation will be tomorrow’s leaders on every challenge we face… May I suggest to you two guiding principles to help you meet and overcome those challenges. The first principle is that objective, empirical evidence is the only sure foundation for sound public policy. The second principle I suggest to you as a touchstone is the rule of law as it has been developed in our constitutional democracy and the fundamental values Canada has enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our system of government is one in which no individual or institution is above the law, where all are equal in its eyes, and where the rights and liberties of every individual are protected by the constitution. Please do not take these fundamental values for granted. I ask you to take the education you have worked so hard to achieve, and use it to make the world a better place for all. “