Justice Anne Derrick smiling for the camera.
Photo source: The Canadian Bar Association

Justice Anne Derrick decided to become a lawyer while still in her teens, after learning that lawyers can advocate on behalf of marginalized people and for social change.

Justice Derrick’s initial connection to Mount Saint Vincent came when she was just 13, with her parents enrolling her at the institution’s former boarding school. That school was in the process of being phased out, and it closed as Anne, then 16, completed Grade 11. At that point, she enrolled in MSVU’s university classes. During her time at the university, she served as student council president and completed a BA (Hons) in Psychology.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Anne applied to law school with the goal of acquiring the tools and credentials she needed to advance social justice. She also thought being a lawyer could improve the likelihood she would be taken seriously as a woman.

Anne joined the Nova Scotia Bar in 1981 and co-founded an all-women’s law firm in 1984. She went on to become one of Nova Scotia’s highest-profile defence lawyers, making a name for herself over the course of her nearly 25-year career by taking on widely publicized cases involving socially contentious issues. Some of her best-known cases include her representation of the wrongly convicted Donald Marshall Jr. following his release from prison and her advocacy for reproductive rights and access to abortion on behalf of Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

Anne became a judge of the Provincial and Family Courts of Nova Scotia in 2005 and, in 2017, she was appointed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

The recipient of many honours over the course of her career, Anne received an honorary degree from MSVU in 1999.

MSVU’s history is rich with the stories of countless people who’ve had an impact on the university and in the broader community.

Over the course of, we’re featuring mini stories about these wonderful MSVU students, faculty, staff and alum. Check back often to meet more amazing MSVU people!