Remembering John Brian MacFarlane (1964-2022)
A proud graduate of the McGill University Faculty of Law, Brian MacFarlane (BCL/LLB’90) began as a young lawyer at a large commercial law firm, but left shortly thereafter to dedicate the vast majority of his career to public service and the betterment of the justice system. He traded a high-end civil litigation practice for the hustle and bustle of many criminal trials and a busy mentoring and teaching schedule in the Crown office. Brian was one of the most experienced major crime prosecutors in the Vancouver region. For 28 years, he exemplified the finest traits of a barrister: decisive, respectful, honest, and fair to colleagues, defence counsel and judges alike.
When he was not trying cases, he was always working to improve the B.C. legal system. He was a member of the committee that oversaw the expansion of the North Vancouver First Nations Sentencing Court and he took on countless important administrative roles. He also gave continuing legal education seminars, and worked in Canadian Bar Association subsections and the Professional Legal Training Program. He enjoyed the respect of those with whom he worked across the justice sector for his collegiality and enthusiasm, and he participated in many legal innovations, including conducting two of the earliest cases involving DNA technology.
In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Brian was very involved in his community. He gave many volunteer hours, most notably as a Guide Dog Puppy Trainer for B.C. Guide Dogs. A lifelong Habs fan, he was an enthusiastic athlete and excelled at many sports, both winter and summer. He cherished the vacation time he was able to spend with his wife Leah, their three daughters and the extended family at Ivry and Métis-sur-Mer.
To recognize Brian’s contributions to McGill and to the legal community, family members have come together to establish the John Brian MacFarlane Memorial Entrance Scholarship. This scholarship will emphasize Brian’s commitment to public service and his dedication to improving the justice system, which is so important to a well-functioning society. It will be awarded on the basis of academic and extracurricular merit to a student entering the BCL/JD program who has a demonstrated interest in public or community service or criminal law advocacy. Should you wish to remember Brian with a contribution to this fund, you may do so at the donation page below. You may also contact Ariel Swan, Development Officer, at ariel.swan [at] mcgill.ca or 514.617.9324.