Alicia Hubbard has made local history.
The newly minted young lawyer was the first woman to be called to the bar in Salmon Arm.
In 2004, Hubbard graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria, having earned a major in sociology with an emphasis on social justice.
Following two years of travelling, Hubbard returned to B.C. where she worked in the field of addictions.
In 2008, she entered law school at UBC and while studying law, participated in the Human Trafficking Working Group, Pro Bono Students of Canada and spent a semester working at the UBC First Nations Legal Clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.
“Through my involvement with Pro Bono Students of Canada, I worked on a project in conjunction with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” says Hubbard.
“This project focused on providing information to asylum-seekers who were detained for immigration reasons. My desire to continue working with asylum-seekers led to an internship with the UNHCR in 2010.”
On graduating from law school, Hubbard worked with the West Coast Prison Justice Society, advocating for prisoners with issues involving health care, human rights and liberty issues.
In 2012, Hubbard began articling with Verdurmen & Company in Salmon Arm and is now practising criminal defence and family law.
“I was her principal; I instructed her for a year and she worked on cases with me,” says Glenn Verdurmen, a lawyer with 24 years experience, who works almost exclusively in criminal law and personal injury. “But she also received guidance from Garrett Wynne on family law.”
Verdurmen describes Hubbard as having great integrity and being extremely hardworking and resourceful. “She has a great grasp of the practical and intellectual aspects of the law,” he says.
Hubbard’s schooling and attributes were considered in Supreme Court Feb. 26 where family, friends and other lawyers had gathered to support her as she was called and admitted to the bar in a ceremony that dates back to the 15th century.
Ken Walken, president of the Law Society of B.C., began proceedings by explaining that admission to the bar requires a new lawyer to do three things: Sign the Rolls (a large, thick book), affirm the oath and be formally introduced to the courts.
Everyone rose when presiding judge, Justice Dev Dley entered the courtroom and Walken continued the ceremony by offering a small slice of history about bringing justice to the Interior in 1874.
He pointed out that in 1913, 488 lawyers were serving 448,000 people, a ratio of 1 to 860. More recently, the count is some 11,000 practising lawyers to some 4.5 million people.
Next, Walken addressed the wearing of robes in Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
“Part of the reason lies in the tradition of the profession,” Walken said. “The robes are a sign of respect, a sign of the profession; a signal that every member of the profession is equal before the courts.”
Walken says no member called to the bar has precedence over another.
“A first-day call member has the same rights and privileges as those called to the bar for four decades,” he said. “Often the robes are handed from one generation to another… they symbolize a duty to pass on knowledge, a duty to mentor, a duty to serve and lead.”
Walken described Salmon Arm as a growing judicial district, with each additional lawyer being a sign of growth that should be celebrated.
Turning to Hubbard, Walken praised her previous work with those who are disadvantaged or suffering from addictions and described her as “a credit to this community and our profession.”
Following the administration of the oath and signing the rolls, Hubbard introduced herself to Judge Dley, who welcomed her to the bar and offered her some advice.
Dley painted a picture of days when work would seem overwhelming, when people would be a challenge and when she would question her own capacity to accomplish everything set before her.
But he assured her, every other lawyer and judge in the courtroom had been in the same position and had survived – as would she.
Dley counselled her to remember there’s always another day and to take time for herself and her family.
And when morally challenging experiences arose, Dley advised her to use her own moral compass and practise law with integrity, patience and compassion.
“I received excellent mentorship from my principal, Glenn Verdurmen, while I was an articled student,” says an enthusiastic Hubbard. “Now that I have been called to the bar, I am very happy to be staying on with Verdurmen & Co. and I am looking forward to continuing to practice criminal defence and family law in Salmon Arm and surrounding communities.”