Elizabeth Edinger retired in July 2021, after nearly 50 years of teaching at the law school. Professor Edinger taught and published in the areas of Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law and Creditors Remedies. She received the faculty’s Killam Teaching Excellence Award in 2000, was the law school’s longest-serving Associate Dean, and served as a faculty advisor in the BC Law School Competitive Moots and for the UBC Law Review. The following profile and oral history were created by the law school in 2012.
According to Elizabeth (Liz) Edinger - and there is little reason to doubt her assertion - she holds the distinction of being the first law student in UBC history to give birth in the midst of her studies. Edinger’s decision to study law was pragmatic; law promised an income. She says that “in those days…jobs were plentiful after law school…my class had until the spring of their final year [to find a job].”
The legal atmosphere has changed since then, but Edinger still advises that students take the time to enjoy law school.
She began working on a part-time basis at the law school in the early 1970s, teaching first-year criminal law. She recalls that “in those days, we had members of the RCMP days sponsored to come to law school. And I had about 4 members of the RCMP in my class…. [I]t made for some interesting discussions.”
Edinger applied for a full-time position with the university in 1977 while working on her BCL at Oxford, and was subsequently hired in 1978. At the time of her inception into the faculty, there was no formal interview process; however she had several letters of recommendation and was well-respected by the faculty.
She began teaching Torts, and thereafter added Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law and Creditors Remedies, all subjects which she continues to teach.
Coming to UBC she says that; “I just started and I learned on the job.” She joined a number of faculty members who had been with the faculty since the 1940s including Charles Bourne, Eric Todd and Ray Herbert.
<She approaches her work with pragmatism and simplicity. When it comes to lecturing she says: “I just talk. I don’t have a teaching philosophy. Someone asked me that the other day and I burst out laughing.” As far as her research is concerned she says; “I want whatever I write to help the legal profession.”She also served as Associate Dean, where she describes the appointment process as informal: “Peter Burns showed up in my office one day and asked if I would be Associate Dean. We discussed it for a while and I agreed.” As Associate Dean, she oversaw a number of duties. As she simply states, she “looked after the budget, looked after the students, [and] looked after the building.
Talking to the Law History Project, Edinger advises incoming students not to specialize too soon. First-year law is a time of great enthusiasm and self-discovery for law students. Students may have pre-conceived notions of what they want to practice, but their interests may change drastically as time goes on.
For more, read Profile of Elizabeth Edinger from The Advocate, 62 (2004), and listen to the Allard Law History Project interview with Elizabeth Edinger.