752 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
One has to admire people who at a young age set their sights on a career
and chart a straight path to achieving their goal. Clarke, however, is not one
of those people. He found himself in his formative years on paths that
diverged, almost literally, in a yellow wood: being faced with the rather
uncommon conundrum of choosing between entering law school and starting
a tree planting company. It was a difficult choice because he had experienced
early success in the latter career option, to the point of being put in
charge of a planting crew during summers while working toward his B.A. in
anthropology at UBC.
Thankfully, Clarke chose law, and attended UBC law school, where he
enjoyed success in both academics and a brief reprise of his rugby career as
a member of the Illegal Beavers. Success on this distinguished team meant
for the most part ending the game with limbs intact. This proved difficult
in one of the team’s tours abroad, to Hawaii. It is believed that the Samoa
game of that tournament was the last time Clarke donned rugby garb. At
least, by all reports, it should have been.
Clarke was still a tree planter when in 1986 he met his future wife Sandy,
who saw him as a keeper notwithstanding the flamboyant ponytail he
sported, in the fashion of the day. Since then, of course, at least for the past
decade, Clarke has opted for a billiard ball hairstyle, but this is a needless
digression. Suffice it to say that Sandy still loves him, as witnessed by the
heartwarming renewal of their vows on their 20th anniversary in the presence
of family and friends, a tribute to a happy and successful marriage,
which continues today.
Sandy recalls fondly Clarke’s law school years, including the diligent
studying, especially in his second year, when she was in postgraduate studies
and they rode the bus to school together, with their brown bag lunches.
That was also the year that Clarke cut off his ponytail, in preparation for
articling interviews. They were married the following year, four months
before Clarke’s graduation in April 1991.
Clarke articled with the Vancouver firm of Ferguson Gifford and in late
winter 1992 was interviewed by Barry Davies (now Davies J. of the B.C.
Supreme Court), who was a partner in the Kelowna firm then known as
Pushor, Mitchell, Montgomery, Davies and Co. Clarke started with the firm
soon thereafter, two weeks following the birth of his and Sandy’s first child.
Although hired to do family law, Clarke exercised the ducking and weaving
he had learned on the Lord Byng playing fields, to the point where in his 27
years with the firm he did not touch a single family file. (This might give
rise to a steep learning curve in the new job.) He focused instead, initially,
on civil and personal injury litigation and, later, on criminal law, doing both