Former Madam Justice Linda Loo was the first Chinese Canadian woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and practiced at our firm from 1986-1996, first as an associate and later as a managing partner.

Linda Ann Loo was born in 1947 in Vancouver’s east side. Her father was an immigrant from feudal China and her mother was born in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Her family was subject to anti-Chinese racism from the predominately white population in Vancouver, and institutional racism from the Canadian state. Madam Justice Loo has spoken publicly about the racist names she was called on the playground growing up, and when her family moved to Vancouver’s west side, petitions circulated expressing concern about decreasing property values.

Undaunted, after high school she enrolled at the University of British Columbia and initially wanted to become a doctor. She decided on law after graduating in 1971, and wrote the LSAT, a new step for hopeful lawyers at that time. Madam Justice Loo paid her way through law school working as a waitress, and graduated from UBC Law in 1974, one of the few women and Chinese graduates. After being called to the bar in 1975, she became in house counsel at BC Hydro. In 1986 she joined Singleton Urquhart (as we then were) as an associate. She excelled at our firm, and eventually became managing partner. As a civil litigator, she successfully argued a wrongful dismissal case before the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 1993 she received her Queen’s Counsel appointment for her exceptional contributions to the legal profession.

On 24 September 1996, at the age of 49, she became the first woman of Chinese descent to be appointed to the Supreme Court of B.C. (she retired in 2018). When asked about her biggest achievement, she noted that it was watching her father at her swearing in ceremony, someone who came from feudal China with no rights at all and who migrated to Canada at a time when Chinese immigrants were still not granted the right to vote. Loo is quoted as saying “In {my father’s} lifetime, we’ve gone from the Manchu dynasty to the courthouse on Smithe Street — it’s quite a leap.”

Madam Justice Loo is well known for speaking openly about the challenges and opportunities of being a young Chinese woman in the legal profession (at a construction law firm, no less!). She found marketing at baseball and hockey games hopeless, and instead starting taking her clients shopping at Holt Renfrew and having them over for dinner at her home. We carry on this tradition today with the Women’s Event.

Madam Justice Loo is a pioneer in the legal profession and an important part of our firm’s history, and we are honoured by her contributions to our firm.