From left to right: Alanna Lee, Lisa Martz, Jason Koshman, and Mary Ainslie with coach Bruce MacDougall receiving the Gale Cup trophy in 1991.
Congratulations to Mary Ainslie, QC (LLB ’91), this year’s recipient of the Alumni Builder Award for the Allard School of Law. Established in 2017 to celebrate 100 years of the alumni association, the Alumni Builder Award recognizes a cross section of alumni representing all faculties who have significantly contributed to the University and enriched the lives of others, and in doing so, have supported alumni UBC’s mission of realizing the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.
Mary is Crown counsel with the Ministry of Attorney General’s BC Prosecution Service. An appellate advocate, she argues regularly in the BC Court of Appeal, and has also appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada. She is a designated “Resource Counsel” for trial prosecutors throughout the province on matters related to vulnerable and child witnesses.
She has been a keen participant in the law school's competitive mooting program for almost three decades, first as a competitor for the national Jessup and Gale moots, and since then as a coach. Mary was a member of the winning Gale Moot team in 1991 (pictured left). She has been a co-coach and an organizer of the Peter Burns Moot and its western Canadian component the McIntyre Cup, and was the co-coach of the Gale Moot for many years. As a student Mary was inspired by the incredible mentoring and coaching she received from the faculty, adjunct professors as well as practicing lawyers to likewise give countless hours to coaching and teaching. She has supervised the skills development of many law students who are now her colleagues, opposing counsel and even members of the judiciary. Although she no longer coaches, her dedication to the role continues through her involvement in practice sessions.
Mary’s contributions to the law school go beyond the moot program. She has contributed to the Law Students' Legal Advice Program. She has developed and co-taught a course on sentencing and a course on advanced criminal evidence called Preventing Wrongful Convictions. Mary has even taught first year criminal law, one of few practicing lawyers to have done so.
Mary was nominated for the Alumni Builder Award by Professor Isabel Grant, who was one of her coaches in 1991, and later coached and taught with her: "I am delighted to see Mary’s contributions honoured in this way. I know of no adjunct who has been more dedicated to our students than Mary Ainslie, as a teacher, coach, and mentor. Mary's commitment does not end when our students graduate. She continues to mentor countless young lawyers and is a wonderful role model, particularly for women entering the legal profession."
Despite a very busy job working for the Crown, Mary has tirelessly dedicated time to law students and the community at the Allard School of Law. We thank her for her service, hard work, and dedication.
Q&A with Mary
Why did you get involved with the mooting program?
When I heard about the competitive moots in my first year I could not believe there was an opportunity to work this closely with professors and practicing lawyers. Working through a moot problem teaches you advocacy skills, and much more - how to analyze a legal problem, utilize relevant facts, consider ethical issues, and to be a productive and supportive team member. I learned a lot as a student, and then again every time I coached a team. I met my most valued mentors through mooting, some of whom became and are still great friends.
What is your fondest memory as a moot coach?
My best memories are from the competitions, which are exciting, stressful, but also lots of fun. After months of hard work and practices, it is a wonderful to watch the team execute all they have learned, and the students almost always save their best performances for the competition. It is great when the team wins a prize, but by no means essential. I believe in the end what matters is that the students have had a tremendous experience that will serve them in whatever career path they ultimately follow.
What have you enjoyed the most about teaching at the law school?
No doubt - the students.
What inspires you?
My family, here and in Toronto.
In an alternative universe, if you were unable to be a lawyer, what would you do?
I am a real movie buff, and in 1987 I moved from Toronto to Vancouver to try and find work in the film industry. After a year with no luck, I decided to write the LSAT, got into law school and ended up falling in love with criminal law (and a few years later a criminal lawyer from BC). In the end, I’m glad the film industry didn’t want me.