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moved west after graduating from Concordia University, with a bachelor of
arts (honours) degree in English literature and women’s studies.
She was a practical person with a great deal of common sense that not
only guided how she lived her personal life but also served her well in her
professional life. She was driven to work hard at whatever she took on, often
in the mistaken belief that she was not as good as those around her were.
Maris came to British Columbia in 1976 to pursue a graduate degree in
English, but after a year, she parted company with poetry and shortly thereafter
started as a receptionist/secretary at the law firm of Douglas, Symes
and Brissenden while taking legal assistant courses at night. It was at one of
those courses that she met one of the founding partners of Lindsay Kenney.
She moved to that firm, working first as a legal secretary and subsequently
as the firm’s legal administrator. This experience, her inquisitive nature and
her self-professed desire to emulate Perry Mason led her to enroll in law
school at UBC in 1982.
She studied hard at law school, particularly during the Friday night study
sessions at her apartment where, with other cash-poor students, discussions
on the law and gossip about professors were stimulated by pizza, chocolates
and cheap white wine.
Maris graduated in 1985 and articled with Casey, O’Neill & Bence. She
was called to the bar in 1986, joined Corrigan, Bernardino, Dorman and
Baker for a year, and then moved to Jarvis, Gerbrandt for another year. She
then joined John Laxton at Laxton & Company. Having begun her career in
law as an assistant, Maris recognized the invaluable contributions such a
person can make to a busy lawyer’s success. She encouraged her assistant,
Suzy Hale, to obtain her paralegal diploma, including paying for the course
and giving her a shiny new briefcase to mark her success.
After nine years at Laxton, Maris accepted a partnership at Harbottle &
Company. In 2000, she moved to Murphy, Battista as associate counsel.
In 2001, Jenny became Maris’s legal assistant. They clicked instantly,
and their work relationship lasted until Maris’s appointment to the Provincial
Court. Soon after, Maris met Jenny’s grandmother, and although they
were from different cultures, theirs was a relationship of deep respect.
Through that experience, Maris and Jenny’s mother/daughter relationship
developed, flourished and extended to Jenny’s husband and children.
During her distinguished career of over 20 years, Maris acted for plaintiffs
in many complex civil cases. She was president of the Medical Legal
Society and the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and was
appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2005. She presented and wrote materials for
various CLE courses dealing with medical malpractice, professional liabil-