Catherine Chow is a self-proclaimed planner, and becoming a lawyer was always on the agenda.
“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a young child,” she said. “I wanted to help the underdog at the playground, and maybe perhaps being an immigrant woman of colour, I wanted to help the disadvantaged, which I felt was myself at the time, but also could see the plight of others.”
Chow is the Vice President Legal and General Counsel at Keg Restaurants Ltd., where her broad portfolio includes legal matters such as financing, real estate and leasing, business development, franchising, key partnership agreements, risk management, insurance, litigation, trademark protection and corporate compliance.
She earned BA in Women’s Studies in 1994 and an LLB in 1997 from the University of Calgary, and later in 2007 an LLM from the Peter A. Allard School of Law, during which she focused on the highway project that was intended to bisect Vancouver’s Chinatown in the late 1960s and how urban planning laws “articulate and dictate a racialized history and racialized hierarchy.”
“I think an LLM is a gratifying way to deliciously dive into an area of interest, and you get to debate it amongst colleagues who are versed in legal theory … and you get to truly satisfy yourself and learn something about the law that you can appreciate in other legal and other non-legal contexts,” she said.
“I think that if you love the law, an LLM at UBC is the place to do it. You get to rub elbows with the brightest legal minds, and the weather’s not bad either.”
Chow has been involved with the Allard School of Law in a teaching capacity and was part of the Business Law Clinic at its inception
“I wanted to teach because I wanted to give back to the legal community,” she said. “The workload was crushing and overwhelming – it was countless hours – but the rewards were … tenfold back. I think that they gave me a job, but I feel like they gave me an opportunity and I wanted to give back and I definitely was the one rewarded.”
Chow currently teaches the Corporate Solicitors’ Workshop, where she hopes her students will learn about more than just the legal needs of corporate clients.
“I enjoy teaching because I can share my experiences and insights as a Chinese-Canadian woman practicing in corporate law having both experience privately and in-house,” she said. “Somehow I think my very physical presence is a leadership example and that there are many paths to excellence.”
In 2020 as an adjunct professor Chow was awarded the Adam Albright Award for teaching excellence, an award adjudicated by students. Chow hopes that awards such as this one raises awareness of the importance of experiential learning being taught by faculty who are actively practicing law.
Chow is also a founder of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society’s Angel Donor’s Dinner and was appointed to the Law Society of British Columbia’s Hearing Tribunal in 2020. Together with her spouse Dr. Curtis Hughesman, a cancer researcher, Chow enjoys playing volleyball at Kits beach, and getting active outdoors with their two young children in Vancouver.