Women in Business: Leading the way in Family Law

Trudi Brown is the Oak Bay News Women in Business, Business Leader of the Year

You would be hard-pressed to find someone in Victoria whose life has not been touched, directly or indirectly, by family law mediator and arbitrator Trudi Brown. Having practiced law in Victoria for over four decades and having sat on multiple boards over the years, including BC Lottery Corporation, Victoria Symphony Society, University of Victoria, Victoria Women’s Transition House, Canadian Red Cross Society, United Way of Greater Victoria, and BC Law Institute (among others), Victoria has witnessed and benefited from Brown’s leadership, B.C. wide influence and generous contributions.

Trudi Brown is the Oak Bay News Women in Business, Business Leader of the Year.

“Trudi tirelessly commits herself to her community, from those she serves and mentors daily, to the residents of Oak Bay, and beyond. She is a trailblazer, particularly in a profession where women were few and far between when she began practice,” said Suzanne Williams, lawyer at Brown Henderson Melbye. “And to top it all off she is the rare combination of wise, humble and fun! She is a truly deserving recipient of the award.”

Many awards have been given to Brown for her years of dedicated service. She has been named one of the Best Lawyers in Canada, as chosen by her peers, and in December of 2017 Brown was awarded the inaugural Excellence in Family Law Award by the Law Society of BC.

“It really was a true honour that I really treasure,” said Brown.

Trudi Brown wins Oak Bay News Women in Business, Business Leader of the Year.

She was also the 2009 winner of Leadership Victoria’s Community Leadership Award, and the YWCA Victoria’s Women of Distinction in 1997.

“Trudi is held in high regard by her peers, and has influenced the practice of law. She has also modelled “community leadership” through her hours of volunteering on appointments to a variety of Boards,” said June Carol Preston, past president of BC Association of Social Workers, Vancouver Island.

Victoria’s family social services sector also honours Brown’s practise of law, according to Preston, as well as her support and encouragement to other professionals working together to establish excellence in child and family services. Brown’s respect for others and her sense of humour, has assisted in the review of family services, and encouraged the development of new services and practices.

Brown came to Victoria in 1973 after many unsuccessful articling interviews in Vancouver where she grew up.

“At that time there weren’t a lot of women lawyers. I got told in many firms that they already had a woman, or that they had a woman once and it didn’t work out for them. One firm told me if they hired me I couldn’t go to the Christmas Party because it was a stag,” said Brown.

Around that time, the government decided to start hiring articling students so Brown moved to Victoria in 1973 to work for the government. She only planned to stay in Victoria for a year. While she was here Brown was offered a job at the Crown office as a prosecutor.

“Given my 28 articling interviews, I had decided I never wanted to apply for another job again so I decided to take the job and I stayed with the Crown for about 4 years,” said Brown.

Leaving the B.C. Crown Counsel Office in 1978, Brown went into private practice and has been working as a partner ever since. The firm has morphed many times, expanding and contracting over the years, with the last 17 years spent on Oak Bay Avenue.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is the number of women we employ in this office. There are 6 lawyers, one student, and about eight other staff. We are one of the first law firms to make our staff have RSP and we contribute to those instead of a pension plan,” said Brown. “In the family law practice, what you see is that the poorest group of women are the ones without pensions who are reaching 65 or older and can’t work anymore. That’s the toughest time for people. So I don’t want to see my staff like that. Or me!”

“Trudi has been one of the most important mentors in my legal career. Her approach to the business and practice of law is one of community-mindedness, good humour, and common sense,” said Samantha Rapoport, lawyer at Brown Henderson Melbye. “I challenge anyone to walk more than a few feet through the Oak Bay Village with Trudi without being stopped by her many friends, former clients, and general admirers. Everybody loves Trudi, and for good reason: in her long career she has had a significant impact on so many.This award, recognizing Trudi’s impact as a businesswoman in Oak Bay, is very well deserved!”

Professional Highlights

• Editor, with Madam Justice Huddart, British Columbia Family Law Practice, published annually by Lexis Nexus

• Member, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

• Member and Former Elected Representative, Canadian Bar Association

• Co-Chair, National Family Law Program, Federation of Law Societies of Canada

• Member, Lifetime Bencher and President (1998), Law Society of British Columbia

• Former Board of Directors Member, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia

• Former Board of Directors Member, BC Hear the Child Society

Community Highlights

• Current Board of Directors Member, BC Lottery Corporation

• Current Board of Directors Member, Victoria Symphony Society

• Former Chair Board of Governors, University of Victoria

• 2009 Winner, Leadership Victoria, Community Leadership Award

• 1997 Winner, YWCA Victoria, Women of Distinction Award (Business and Professionals)

• Former Board of Directors Member:

  • Victoria Women’s Transition House
  • Victoria Sexual Assault Centre
  • Canadian Red Cross Society
  • Mount St. Mary’s Hospital
  • United Way of Greater Victoria
  • Heritage Realty
  • UVic Properties Inc.
  • BC Law Institute


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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