It was a “somewhat poorly kept secret” that Kelowna's Briana Hardwick always wanted to become a judge.
The born-and-raised Kelowna local has primarily practised family law as a partner at Kelowna's Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP until earlier this year, when she was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of B.C.
While she was officially sworn in on Feb. 14, her welcoming ceremony was held in the Kelowna courthouse last week, where dozens of her colleagues, friends and family attended, along with B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson.
“I'm extremely humbled to stand, actually to sit, here before you as a Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court. Amongst those in my very inner circle it was somewhat a poorly kept secret that this was the job I always wanted,” Justice Hardwick said during the ceremony.
“I didn't want to be appointed because I didn't love private practice. To the contrary, I absolutely loved the people who I worked with and I, unlike some others, found the practice of family law to be particularly rewarding.
“I am very cognizant of the fact that I am, as far as records would suggest, the only born and raised Kelowna kid to be appointed to preside in Kelowna in the Supreme Court, and more notably, the first female resident justice appointed in Kelowna since Madame Justice Beames was appointed in 1996.”
The ceremony was a light-hearted affair, with a “gentle roast” from Michael Welsh of the BC Law Society, and Justice Gary Weatherill complaining about the length of Justice Hardwick's speech.
Justice Hardwick noted it had been more than 3,000 hours since she first got the call from Justice Minister David Lametti in February telling her about her appointment.
“No one has called back to indicate it was a mistake, so I consider that a limited sign of success,” she said.
Chief Justice Hinkson noted that Justice Hardwick's appointment was one of two recent appointments of the daughters of his own contemporaries.
“I'm beginning to feel very old when I conduct these ceremonies,” he said, to a laugh.
He noted the ceremony was to “recognize and celebrate the renewal and revitalization of our court.”
In one of six application essays Justice Hardwick wrote when applying for the position, she noted her greatest contribution to the practice of law was “helping people solve their problems.”
“I more jokingly explained, I considered that I had a secret cape and my job was to help save the world one divorce at a time,” she said.
She also wrote in her essays that the two most important roles of a judge are to be “intellectually curious and intellectually honest.”
“In being curious, a judge must be prepared to consider hard questions, questions which may be outside of their familiar skillset, and then be in a position to provide articulate reasons that are not only supportable by the relevant case law, but comprehensible to counsel and also, very importantly, the parties in the dispute,” she said.
“Being intellectually honest requires judges of this court to make difficult decisions, decisions which may consider to be legally correct but which we appreciate or know may be unfavourably received by others.”
Justice Hardwick's father, Grant Hardwick, was also a long-time Kelowna lawyer, and she spoke about how she'd wanted to follow in her father's footsteps from a young age.
“I self-appointed myself as his official sidekick. In my toddler years, I distinctly remember coming to his office on the weekends and typing away madly on a manual typewriter while he prepared for various trials,” she said.
“By the time I was about five, I was regularly accompanying my father to courthouses across the province and generally speaking, soaking in experiences from the gallery. Sometimes I fell asleep.”
Justice Hardwick joins Justice Weatherill, Justice Alison Beames and Justice Steven Wilson as Kelowna's B.C. Supreme Court judges.
She thanked her parents, husband, children and co-workers for their support, along with her official mentor judge Justice Weatherill and her "unofficial mentor judge," Justice Beames.