Madam Justice Mary Saunders was born and raised in British Columbia. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science from UBC, she attended the Faculty of Law, graduating in 1974. She was called to the bar in 1975, articled at Farris and Company and practiced with several other Vancouver law firms (the names now lost to history), predominantly in the fields of labour, employment, education, human rights and workers compensation law. She served on the British Columbia Police Commission (1985–1991), the RCMP External Review Committee, and the Board of the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She was a commissioner on two inquiries into injuries sustained by individuals while in the custody of police, and the 1986 Industrial Inquiry into the labour dispute in the forest industry. She served on the Premier’s Advisory Council on Native Affairs (1989–1991) that was the pre-cursor of British Columbia’s participation in land claim processes. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1989.
Madam Justice Saunders was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1991 and in 1999 to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia and the Court of Appeal of the Yukon Territory. In 2009 she received the Anthony P. Pantages, Q.C. Medal from the Justice Institute of British Columbia for contributions and improvements in criminal justice in British Columbia.
Madam Justice Saunders has been a presenter at numerous legal and judicial education programs including on alternate dispute resolution, labour law, class actions, youth criminal justice, administrative law, privacy law and employment law.