In September 2006, Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy LLP donated $1 million to the law school at UBC. This was the largest gift ever made by a B.C. law firm at the time. Farris Hall, a prominent lecture hall situated within the new building, opened in September 2011.
Senator John Wallace de Beque Farris, QC, DCL, LLB, LLD (1878 – 1970) was a highly respected lawyer and politician. An influential and indomitable leader, he rose to the highest ranks of Canadian politics, founded one of BC’s leading legal firms and helped create the law school at UBC.
Mr. Farris arrived in BC in 1903, becoming Vancouver’s first city prosecutor, a part-time job that paid $75 per month. That same year, he also founded a law firm - the firm that carries his name to this day.
In 1917, Mr. Farris was elected a member of the Provincial Legislature for Vancouver. He was subsequently appointed president of the Executive Council, Attorney General and the province’s first Minister of Labour. After decades of public service, in 1937 Mr. Farris was appointed by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to the Senate of Canada. A year later, Senator Farris also took on the role of national president of the Canadian Bar Association and honorary member of the American Bar Association.
Senator Farris not only counselled major corporations but also defended society's outsiders, such as a group of Chinese persons charged with gaming. He was sometimes called a “radical” by his opponents, a description which apparently pleased him.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Senator Farris rallied community support for a BC law school. He was instrumental in convincing the provincial government of the day to provide $10,000 in funding, allowing UBC to create its Faculty of Law in 1945.
Today, Senator Farris’ legacy is carried forward by the law firm he founded. Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP is a leading Canadian, full-service law firm with offices in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, British Columbia. Many Farris lawyers are UBC alumni.
Following in the footsteps of their founder, Farris LLP continues a proud tradition of supporting the development of the legal profession in British Columbia. In 2003, the firm celebrated its 100th anniversary by establishing the Farris Endowment at UBC, a gift supporting excellence in teaching and research in the areas of business law and advocacy, including the annual Farris Lecture. The firm has also supported many other initiatives at the law school, including the Law Faculty Endowment and the Nathan Nemetz Chair in Legal History.
The lecture hall was made possible through this generous gift by Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP. It represents the commitment of a generation of Farris partners to the ideals of Senator Farris and to the law school at UBC that he helped to create.