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tweed. They were invariably cheerful. Stupidly, I called Lady Jacob “Lady
Rose” during the first few days of the B.C. visit. This was until someone, perhaps
Dean Curtis (who would have known these things), corrected me by
pointing out that, in that amazingly perfectly English way, only women
who had been born ennobled were referred to by their first names. If only
Downton Abbey had come earlier for me.
The personal contact with Jacob in London proved to be important
because it got the visit arrangements underway as smoothly as could be
hoped for. With no cellphones or e-mail and even, in those days, no fax,
communication across great distances was much, much more difficult than
it is today (although, and I guess it’s the nature of things, it didn’t really
seem so at the time). In 1979, an exchange with Sir Jack by post was a twoweek
exercise, at least.
My year at UBC was interesting, but not quite interesting enough for me
to want to do a second one, at least not a second one in a row. It was stimulating
to read a contracts textbook cover to cover, a challenge to manage a
mostly male class of 40 or so hopeful civil litigators (many of whom were
close in age to me) and challenging to develop from scratch a course about
judges with only my short time as a law clerk to build on. One evening
Chief Justice McEachern joined the judging seminar as a guest. He hadn’t
been C.J.S.C. very long. I asked him why he’d taken on the job. He was
a great sports fan. He answered my question with a chuckle, saying he
couldn’t pass up the chance to manage the Yankees.
For a reason that has never been explained to me, one day my mainly
boys class pelted me with buns from the cafeteria. What they hadn’t
counted on was that I was pretty agile and faster afoot than all of them.
Later I resisted the temptation to answer the attack with an impossible
exam. Still, on the exam I did set, only two members of the class were able
to think their way out of a trap I’d laid in one of my questions. I’ve always
thought this outcome is one small proof of the worth of procedure as a subject
for academic study in the law schools, and not only for its own sake:
procedure does make a difference and practice questions are not necessarily
In one of his Hamlyn Lectures, Sir Jack argued forcefully that effective
rules reform depended on lawyers, judges and academics working together
to promote principled change.12 This is a message he delivered to many
other audiences in many places. I wish I’d been first to make the argument.
I can’t reveal who did what on the civil litigation exam I set at UBC, but
I can say the students overall were no slouches. They included (so my
memory tells me) Bruce LeRose, who later became the first Law Society