In 2009, Janet Winteringham, Q.C. and Andi MacKay opened the doors of a boutique litigation firm in Gastown specializing in criminal, civil and constitutional cases. Janet’s interest in criminal and constitutional matters began at Simon Fraser University as a Criminology major and continued at the University of British Columbia where she obtained her LLB in 1991.
Her litigation practice started at a medium sized firm in Vancouver and consisted predominantly of civil litigation matters. She later cultivated a criminal law practice in a partnership with another lawyer. Although the focus of her practice is criminal defence, she regularly acts for the Crown as an ad hoc and special prosecutor. Janet also defends clients facing discipline by professional or regulatory bodies as a result of criminal charges.
In recent years, Janet has been involved in several constitutional cases including a constitutional reference on the criminal prohibition against polygamy, a constitutional challenge to the cancellation of the mother-baby program at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and litigation involving competing Charter rights in Trinity Western University v Law Society of B.C. She also appeared as counsel to an individual at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
Janet has been adjunct professor at the Allard School of Law since 2004, serving as a lab instructor in the Trial Advocacy course. She is also a frequent lecturer at law conferences including the CLE Winning Advocacy Skills Workshops, the CBA National Criminal Law Conference and B.C. Civil Liberties Association Conference on Constitutional Issues in Criminal Law. She is one of the discussion leaders at the Inns of Court session addressing ethical problems in Criminal Law.
In 2012 and 2013, Janet travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to assist with training of judges, prosecutors, police and public defenders as part of a program developed by the Justice Education Society.
In 2014, she was appointed a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers. She is a member of the Canadian Bar Association and Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia.
What did you do before law school?
I attended SFU and completed an undergraduate arts degree with a major in criminology. I started law school in 1988 with one child and had my second child after first year. I was a server at the Keg before starting law school – along with about five other soon-to-be lawyers.
What led you to pursue law as a career?
I was always interested in different aspects of the criminal justice system. Law-based criminology courses turned out to be the ones that interested me the most.
What is your most memorable law school moment?
At our graduation, Jenny Jack welcomed our speaker Chief Justice Dickson. It seemed like an epic time -- a time of great hope and optimism for equality and human rights. In addition, the Honourable Lynn Smith, Q.C. was about to begin her tenure as the first ever female dean of the law school.
What motivated you to leave your previous firm to start Winteringham Mackay?
I knew I wanted to expand our criminal and constitutional practice and the time was right for doing so. I had been at a larger firm and it was not really conducive to where I saw my practice going.
What is the best aspect of your job?
There are two aspects of this profession that are my favourite – courtroom work and teaching. It is in the court where we finally get to present our case usually after much work to break it down to the issues that matter. Teaching is just a perfect way to bring everything together. I had the great fortune of traveling to Ethiopia to work on an educational program about trial advocacy in the context of prosecuting, judging and defending gender-based offences. The enthusiasm of the participants was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Dealing with the sadness of what often brings people to court.
What appeals to you about teaching at Allard School of Law?
I am fortunate to teach one of my favourite topics – trial advocacy. The students in the class are there because they want to learn so the energy in the class is constant. It is a great reminder to me about why I really love what I do.
What do you do in your free time?
I tried my best to be as involved as I could in the lives of my children while working as a lawyer. Over the years, I spent much of my spare time at hockey rinks or traveling to various hockey tournaments. Although our time at the rinks is much reduced since the older children have moved on, I find my spare time is still filled with sport. Only one child still lives at home. We have always spent much of August camping in the Okanagan with a wonderful extended family.