The law school at the University of British Columbia received a $1 million gift from national law firm Davis LLP and Irwin Davis, grandson of the firm's founder Edward Pease Davis, K.C., towards the building project. This gift was matched by the Law Foundation of British Columbia, which committed to match donations in support of the law school’s vital role in Canada's legal system.
"This gift represents an important contribution to the future excellence of our legal community," said Mary Anne Bobinski, Dean and Professor at the law school. "I am pleased that it honours a founding father of B.C.'s legal community. This is something that will hold special meaning for our professors and students."
"We are pleased to be partners in the creation of the new [law building]," said Doug Buchanan, former National Managing Partner of Davis LLP and a UBC graduate. "Many members of our legal team received their education at the university, and demonstrate the high standards of excellence that it represents. This is a vital project for our profession and the province."
"It is a special thrill for me to be part of this gift. I know what a difference it will make for the UBC campus and for so many students aspiring to make a real impact in the field of law," said Irwin Davis, who grew up within walking distance of the current law building. His childhood home is now UBC's Cecil Green House, which was built by his grandfather, Edward Pease Davis, K.C., the founder of the law firm.
Edward Pease Davis, KC, is one of the towering founding fathers of the BC legal community. On March 25, 1892, he established Davis LLP, a full-service law firm working out of Vancouver. By 1900, clients included Mayor David Oppenheimer, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1910, the Canadian Law Journal said of Davis, who was then 50 years old:
“It is an unusual thing in a Canadian province to have a man so admittedly at the head of his profession that he is not regarded as having a rival... Mr. E.P. Davis, KC, by universal acknowledgement is easily the leader of the Bar... his capacity for work is phenomenal, quite beyond the physical capacity of most men.”
Over the years, the firm Davis LLP has established itself as a pioneer in BC and Canadian law. After World War II, the firm championed the cause of Japanese-Canadians who had lost their property when they were forced to resettle in the BC interior. Davis lawyer Bob McMaster blocked attempts by the federal government to deport over 10,000 Japanese-Canadians. Later, Mr. McMaster persuaded a Royal Commission to recommend substantially higher compensations for the land, homes and businesses seized from Japanese-Canadians during the War.
In 1957, Davis hired George Fujisawa, a Japanese-Canadian, when he was unable to find other law firm employment due to discrimination. Because of Mr. Fujisawa and the support of the firm, the firm acted for virtually all of the Japanese companies doing business in BC at that time.
With an enduring commitment to diversity, Davis LLP continues to be a leader in the legal community. It is the first law firm based in Western Canada to establish a national presence, with offices in each of Canada’s major business centres and the North, and is one of the first non-Quebec based law firms to establish a practice in Montreal. The firm is proud of its long-standing commitment to represent First Nations, Tribal Councils and Aboriginal non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals in British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta.
With an office also in Japan, the firm provides comprehensive legal services to clients at a national and international level. Davis legal advisors and consultants represent financial, corporate and government organizations and individuals.
With numerous UBC alumni among its ranks, Davis LLP has long been a generous supporter of the law school. Davis LLP has supported named chairs, awards and scholarships, such as the George K. Fujisawa, QC Memorial Scholarship; the Hon. Beverley McLachlin Legal Access Award; and the Nathan Nemetz Chair in Legal History.
On April 17, 2015 Davis LLP combined globally with DLA Piper to create DLA Piper (Canada) LLP.
The DLA Piper lecture hall was made possible by this joint gift given by Davis LLP and Irwin Davis. Together, they honour an inspiring figure in the history of BC law with a generous contribution to support future excellence in the legal profession.