Board Member Profile: Justice Miriam Maisonville

How much do you know about our hard working Allard School of Law Alumni Association Board Members? In an effort to learn more, each month a board member will interview a fellow board member for our website and newsletter. 

By Emily MacKinnon (Class of '12)

I must confess that Justice Miriam Maisonville is only the second surfer I have ever met. Of all the things I thought to learn from her, the “pop-up”—an upward-dog-like move by which surfers stand up on their boards—was not one of them. But then, the thing you really learn from a conversation with Justice Maisonville is that she defies typecasting.

After graduating from law school in 1985, Justice Maisonville partnered with Howard Rubin, Q.C. in an office that ultimately claimed George Goyer, Q.C. among its members. She worked on an astonishing array of cases: personal injury, breach of contract, family disputes, high-level drug conspiracy—and, evidencing an apparent love of the law, she says they were “all her favourite”.

In 1994, she moved to the Crown to work on special prosecutions, where she focused on complex commercial fraud. She legendarily prosecuted Christophe Rocancourt, who ran a con that then-prosecutor Maisonville told the sentencing court was “swift and relentless”. Rocancourt took on false identities including Sophia Loren’s son, a Rockefeller offspring, and fictional racecar driver Michael VanHoven. His story reads like the script of Catch Me If You Can. (I recommend you Google it.) 

In 2010, Justice Maisonville was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She joined a distinguished bench that included her former Allard Law property law teacher, now-Retired Justice Lynn Smith, who famously demonstrated the rule against perpetuities with the aid of wind-up toys. 

A kind, approachable woman with an obviously incisive mind, Justice Maisonville is known as a skilled and thoughtful judge, before whom counsel like to appear. The born-and-bred Vancouverite sits in both B.C. and the Yukon, and she even hears cases in French—a language she speaks flawlessly.

Justice Maisonville is the kind of person who contributes generously to her community, and looks confused when you ask her why. Besides lending her gravitas to the board of the Peter A. Allard School of Law Alumni Association, Justice Maisonville also sits on the board of the Sopinka moot, reviewing each year’s problem and helping to train a new generation of advocates.

And she is eminently qualified for that role. Justice Maisonville may be sitting behind the bench now, but she obviously has retained all her tools of persuasive advocacy. Fair warning, if you meet with her: she just might inspire you, too, to take up surfing.

Learn more about the Allard School of Law Alumni Association Board Members.