Duff: A Life in the Law

by David Williams. Published with the University of British Columbia Press, 1984. Out of Print.

Sir Lyman Duff is often described as Canada’s most distinguished jurist. His career encompassed forty years in high judicial office, the last eleven as Chief Justice of Canada. More than any other individual, he shaped the Supreme Court and its decisions during a period when it was struggling, often against formidable obstacles, to achieve the stature needed to fulfil its obligations as Canada’s highest judicial body. Although Mr. Williams’ work offers important insights into those difficult years in the court’s evolution, his focus is on Duff personally. Duff’s career as lawyer, jurist, frequent royal commissioner and adviser to Prime Ministers was unique to the man and his times. As his biographer, Mr. Williams has succeeded admirably in integrating that which is private and personal in his subject’s life with Duff’s larger political and judicial concerns.The result is a popular and entertaining account which will offer an introduction for many readers to the role played in the first half of this century by a great Canadian judge and to the Court which benefited so much from his intellectual eminence and outstanding leadership.

Reviews of Duff: A Life in the Law

Careful research, including examination of original sources, is evident. The literary style is easy and flowing which renders the reading a pleasure.  Hon M.M. McFarlane, The Advocate, (Vancouver Bar Association), Vol 43, 1985, p. 91.
David Ricardo Williams has written a biography of Chief Justice Duff that is a major contribution to the history of the development, not only of our judicial institutions, but of Canada as a nation .... The book is distinguished by wit and a clarity of style.  Thomas G Bastedo, Advocates’ Society Journal, Vol 14, 1985, p. 22.

Reviews have also appeared in the following publications:

  • Arthur L. Close, University of British Columbia Law Review, Vol 20, p. 21.
  • W.H. McConnell, Saskatchewan Law Review, Vol 49, p. 378.
  • Ian A. Hunter, University of Western Ontario Law Review, Vol 24, 1987, p. 119.
  • L.H. Leigh, Modern Law Review, Vol 49, 1986, p. 409.
  • Patricia E. Roy, Queen’s Quarterly, Vol 93, 1986, p. 167.
  • David Howes, University of New Brunswick Law Journal, Vol 35,1986, p. 231.
  • S.M. Waddams, American Journal of Legal History, Vol 30, 1986, p. 283.
  • Francis J. Conte, American Review of Canadian Studies, Vol 15, 1985, p. 345.
  • Robin Fisher, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol 76, 1985, p. 116.
  • F. Murray Greenwood, BC Studies, No 68, 1985, p. 62.
  • John P. Maclean, The Financial Post, 5 January 1985, p. 61.
  • Peter H. Russell, Canadian Historical Review, Vol 66, 1985, p. 420.
  • Della M.M. Stanley, Dalhousie Law Journal, Vol 9, 1985, p. 820.
  • Jack Batten, The Globe and Mail, 15 December 1984, p. E26.
  • James G. Snell, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1984, p. 98.