McEachern's first wife, Gloria, died in 1997 after 44 years of marriage. Two years later, he married Appeal Court Justice Mary Newbury.
McEachern graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949, followed by a law degree in 1950.
McEachern became UBC's 16th chancellor in 2002. He graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949, a law degree in 1950 and was given an honorary doctor of Laws degree in 1990. He was Douglas McK. Brown Visiting Professor and Peter Wall Distinguished Fellow in the Faculty of Law from September 2001 until June 2002 when he resigned these appointments upon being elected Chancellor.
McEachern practiced law with the leading Vancouver law firm of Russell and DuMoulin for 28 years after being called to the bar in 1951. He became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1979. In 1988. he was appointed Chief Justice of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. McEachern retired from that position in May 2001. Later that year he returned to the practice of law at his former firm, now called Fasken Martineau DuMoulin.
His career as Chief Justice in both courts was distinguished by his reform of court procedure and for bringing the Canadian legal system closer to the public by being the first judge in Canada to host his own web site, which invited the public to e-mail their questions about the legal system. In addition, he chaired the Legal Aid Society from 1975 to 1976 and served from 1996 to 2001 as vice-chair of the Canadian Judicial Council, the body responsible for dealing with issues relating to the performance of federally appointed judges in Canada.
McEachern also served as a Director of the Vancouver Bar Association, President of the Legal Aid Society, Bencher of the Law Society and a member of the Council of the Canadian Bar Association, President of the B.C. Lions (1967–69), President of the Canadian Football League, the third commissioner of the Canadian Football League and Ethics Commissioner for VANOC.
McEachern's career was not without controversy. In the 1991 Gitskan-West'suwet'en land claim case in British Columbia, he commented that "it would not be accurate to assume that even pre-contact existence in the territory was in the least bit idyllic. The plaintiffs' ancestors had no written language, no horses or wheeled vehicles, slavery and starvation was not uncommon, wars with neighbouring peoples were common, and there is no doubt, to quote Hobbs, that aboriginal life in the territory was, at best, 'nasty, brutish and short.'", a characterization that was subject to significant criticism.
In addition to his many judicial decisions, during his tenure as Chief Justice of both courts, McEachern is credited with streamlining the procedures of the courts, introducing online access to decisions of the court and establishing a website that allowed internet visitors to ask questions directly of the court. He wrote and published a Compendium of Law and Judges.
- Canwest MediaWorks Publications (January 12, 2008). "Obituary: Allan McEachern". canada.com. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- "Renowned jurist elected UBC chancellor, UBC Public Affairs". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
- "Law Society of BC, Life Benchers". Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
- "Compendium of the Law and Judges, BC Supreme Court Web Site". Retrieved 2007-06-18.[dead link]
|Chancellor of the University of British Columbia
2002 – January 10, 2008