LAA Board Member Profile: Emily MacKinnon

How much do you know about our hard working 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. This month, Vice President Phebe Chan profiles board member Emily MacKinnon.

By Phebe Chan
Solo opera soprano, Acadian fiddler, and Canadian Forces soldier… such was the pathway to law for Emily MacKinnon.
Prior to law school, Emily joined the Canadian Forces Communications Reserve in 2000, where she learned to handle both a rifle and a radio. Emily continues to serve as an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist, and she currently helps to plan training and operations for A Squadron, 39 Signals Regiment. 
Emily completed her Bachelor of Music in opera at the University of Ottawa in 2005. After a brief sojourn on Cape Breton Island learning to fiddle, she then moved to this coast to complete her Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology in 2008 at UBC. During her Master’s studies, she researched the use of music to educate people about HIV and AIDS.
Her next academic endeavor was at the Allard School of Law, UBC, where Emily participated in the Law Student Legal Advice Program, the Law and Business Society, and the Student Society Academic Issues Caucus. Emily also received not less than 15 legal academic awards, as well as the Research Abroad Grant, which supported Emily’s comparative research on prostitution laws in Italy. Her work was published as a book chapter in an Italian collection of comparative criminal law, Prostituzione e Diritto Penale. Emily graduated from UBC as a Westbrook Scholar and the Law Society of British Columbia gold medallist.
Emily went on to clerk for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, PC at the Supreme Court of Canada until September 2013, when she was called to the bar of British Columbia. Emily is now building a general litigation practice at McCarthy Tétrault, with an aspirational focus on appeals. In the span of her short legal career, Emily has appeared at all levels of court. Just last week, Emily made her first oral submissions in the Supreme Court of Canada: she and her mentor, Michael Feder, represented the intervener B.C. Civil Liberties Association in a Charter case about retrospectivity in criminal punishment. Several days earlier, Emily had passed the flight test for her private pilot license for single engine aircraft.
Not surprisingly, Emily was the 2014 UBC Alumni Association Young Alumni Award winner.
Emily is also fluent in French and conversant in Italian (although she says her German is terrible).
Learning is obviously a constant goal for Emily, who values having different experiences and new experiences at the same time. In her words, “If everything was easy, it would be boring!” 
We are honoured to have Emily on our board of directors and we embrace words from her graduation congregation ceremony speech: “stretch our horizons, challenge our ideas, and continue the process of learning that began at UBC.”