920 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
the Women Students’ Office at UBC. Her father, Joe Horsman, was a taxi
driver and a poet.
Karen attended University Hill for elementary and secondary school. She
reports that she was a shy child who found expression in academics and a
lifetime love of soccer. Karen describes scurrying between the “U Hill”
buildings down a tunnel where the “tough kids” congregated to smoke. To
this day, when Karen downplays a difficult experience, she mimics dragging
on and putting out a cigarette, despite never having smoked a day in
Karen headed east for university, obtaining an undergraduate degree
from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1988, and still maintains friendships
with the women she shared a house with as an undergrad in our nation’s
capital. Yet the West Coast beckoned, and back to UBC she came for law
school, where she obtained her LL.B. in 1992, after a brief sojourn to the
Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco for an exchange term, where
she observed—but did not participate in—the infamous San Francisco riots.
Although she was still uncertain about her career direction after graduation,
Karen clerked at the B.C. Supreme Court (primarily for Chief Justice
Finch). Clerking provided Karen with an opportunity to get a behind-thescenes
look at the role of the judiciary, hone her research skills and form
lifelong friendships with other clerks. She articled at the B.C. Ministry of
Attorney General, where she subsequently spent the majority of her career.
Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Maaike, early in her career, Karen
worked part-time as a sole practitioner. During that time, her twin daughters
Emmy and Anya were born. Karen’s ability to handle the demands of
having three children under the age of five while managing a legal practice
foreshadowed her ability to juggle multiple complex files as well as deal
with challenging witnesses or opposing counsel.
Karen quickly distinguished herself as a bright light in the legal profession.
It may come as a surprise to those who have seen her in court, but
early in her career, Karen preferred to work in the background, helping
counsel draft factums, develop arguments and give advice. Her mentor,
now Judge Ted Gouge, would have none of it. He encouraged Karen to
appear in court and make her own arguments, a not-quite-gentle shove that
shaped not only Karen’s career, but also those of all of the lawyers that
Karen has since worked with and mentored.
Karen’s legal career is long and storied. She has argued or been involved
in many of the precedent-setting legal cases pertaining to Crown policy and
liability, beginning with Cooper v. Hobart, 2001 SCC 79 and including Holland
v. Saskatchewan, 2008 SCC 42; Mounted Police Association of Ontario v.