Exceptional lawyers recognized with Queen’s counsel designation

  • December 10, 2018

David Eby, Attorney General, has announced the 2018 recipients of the honorary title of Queen’s counsel (QC).

“Congratulations to each of the recipients of this prestigious designation,” said Eby. “The QC appointment is a very special honour that denotes a superb record of achievement and commitment to our province’s legal system. Your valuable work is helping to make British Columbia a stronger and more equitable place to live.”

This year’s 28 appointees are British Columbian lawyers with a diverse set of professional specializations including First Nations law, criminal law, commercial litigation, family law and mediation. The appointees have been chosen for their distinguished accomplishments in areas such as continuing legal education, community volunteerism and mentorship of new legal professionals.

The QC designation is conferred each year on members of the legal profession who have been nominated by their peers and have been members of the B.C. bar for at least five years. After the call for nominations in September, an advisory committee reviewed applications and recommended candidates to the attorney general.

2018 Queen’s counsel appointees

The following Queen’s counsel appointees are listed chronologically by the date they were called to the bar:

Corrinne Lee Ongman has practised law since graduating from the University of British Columbia (UBC) faculty of law in 1977. Ongman has more than 40 years experience as a practising lawyer in B.C. and has focused for many years on assisting the Indigenous peoples of northern B.C. to access the justice system. As a life bencher of the Law Society of B.C., she has worked on its truth and reconciliation advisory committee, practice standards committee and family law task force. She has also served as panel member and panel chair of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for Western Canada.

John Walter Bromley graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor of laws (LLB) in 1982 and was called to the B.C. bar the following year. Bromley has practised primarily in the area of maritime law for 35 years. He founded his own firm, Bromley Chapelski, in 1998 and later joined Bull, Housser & Tupper in 2008. He regularly contributes to the Canadian chapter of the International Comparative Guide to Shipping Law. He also served on the executive of the Maritime section of the Canadian Bar Association of B.C. (CBABC) from 1988 to 1996 and was section chair from 1994 to 1996.

Robert Dewart Gibbens earned a LLB from UBC in 1984. Gibbens is a partner with the Vancouver civil litigation firm Laxton Gibbens. He has practised in many areas of law, including cases related to pension law, social worker liability and serious injury. He has extensive experience representing victims of physical abuse as infants due to institutional negligence.

Adam Charles Whitcombe received a LLB from UBC in 1984 and was called to the B.C. bar in 1985. After working in private practice, Whitcombe joined the Law Society of B.C. in 1993. He has served in senior roles at the Law Society for 25 years and serves as its deputy executive director and chief executive officer. He was instrumental in negotiating the agreement between the Law Society, the Law Foundation and the Queen’s Printer that led to free online public access to British Columbia’s statutes and regulations, and is the driving force behind the Juricert online legal credential service.

Barry Neville Zacharias was called to the B.C. bar in 1985. Zacharias has practised in the northwest part of the province for 18 years, establishing himself first in the family court arena and then in criminal law with Crown counsel. In 2000, he moved to Terrace and joined the Native Community Law Office in L’ax Ghels, where he represented local Indigenous families. He is the administrative Crown counsel for BC Prosecution Service in Prince Rupert. While in private practice, he also served as the Salvation Army pro bono counsel in Nanaimo.

Fiona MacDonald Begg was called to the B.C. bar in 1987. Throughout her career in law, Begg has focused on promoting diversity and social justice through advocacy in the community. As a sole practitioner, she has worked in immigration and criminal law. She has served as a board member and president of MOSAIC, as a board member of Casa Latinoamericana Society and with CBABC, where she was the secretary of the immigration sub-section for two years. She also teaches the immigration consequences of sentencing course to colleagues at the Vancouver downtown community court in its lunchtime education series.

Mary Bridget Hamilton received a LLB from Dalhousie University in 1986. Hamilton is a partner with Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP. She serves as the chair of the Vancouver wills and estates section of CBABC and has contributed to numerous law reform initiatives, including the law governing succession and estate administration that resulted in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. She has also given pro bono workshops on estate planning through the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) to families of people with disabilities.

Gordon George Matei received a LLB from UBC and was called to the B.C. bar in 1987. In addition to time as corporate commercial litigation, Matei has spent most of his legal career as Crown counsel with BC Prosecution Service, where he has tried cases at all levels of court in British Columbia. In 1997, he served as a senior lawyer on the Air India Crown Task Force, which handled the prosecution of R. vs. Malik and Bagri at the B.C. Supreme Court. In 2005, he joined the BC Prosecution Service’s organized crime unit in Vancouver and serves as its deputy director.

Brian Michael Samuels received a LLB from the University of Victoria in 1987. Samuels is a senior trial and appeal lawyer, trained mediator and a chartered arbitrator, and is the principal of the construction law firm Samuels & Co. His primary practice areas are resolution of construction disputes and civil rights litigation. He practised with Russell & DuMoulin and Lee & Associates, Denver before starting his own firm. He also serves as the editor of the Journal of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers.

Philip Alexander Riddell holds a LLB from UBC and was called to the B.C. bar in 1989. Riddell has experience both in civil litigation and criminal law. He serves on the board of the Legal Services Society (LSS) and is also a member of the Finance Committee and Stakeholder Engagement Committee. He is the former president of the New Westminster Bar Association and was previously a member of CBABC’s advisory committee to the provincial judicial council. He has also served on the provincial council for Westminster County for the Canadian Bar Association and as the co-chair of CBABC’s Westminster criminal subsection.

Susan Jane Brown received a LLB from UBC in 1990. After articling at Killam Whitelaw Twining in Vancouver, Brown joined BC Prosecution Service. During the last 27 years, she has appeared at all levels of court as Crown counsel, handling cases ranging from traffic violations to high-profile organized crime. In 2005, she joined the Criminal Appeals Office, where she recently assumed the role of acting deputy director. She is a co-editor and contributing author for the Working Manual of Criminal Law.

Peter John Roberts received a LLB from UBC in 1989 and was called to the B.C. bar in 1991. Roberts has 26 years of experience as a litigator in Vancouver. He has practised criminal law and civil and commercial litigation, including product liability, property law disputes and claims involving allegations of fraud. He has appeared before all levels of court in British Columbia as well as other professional bodies. He has also contributed to numerous professional organizations, including the Justice Education Society, the 20 Club and The Advocate.

Russell Charles Gordon was called to the B.C. bar in 1992. Gordon is a senior partner at Koskie Glavin Gordon, practising in the areas of labour, human rights and administrative law. Previously, Gordon was an in-house labour counsel and was senior counsel to the British Columbia Labour Relations Board. He is the former president of the CBABC labour section and is a member of the advisory committee for the Queen’s University Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace and a member of the British Columbia Law Institute Employment Standards Act reform project committee. He also volunteers with Access Pro Bono and the CBA’s lawyer referral service.

Hugh William Veenstra received his LLB from the University of Victoria in 1990 and was called to the B.C. bar in 1992. Veenstra has a commercial litigation practice that specializes in complex real estate, construction and multi-party disputes. He serves as the president of the CBABC after having served as secretary treasurer and vice-president and on many of its committees. He received the CBABC President’s Medal in 2015 in recognition of outstanding contributions to the B.C. branch. He has also served the CBA nationally on many committees, as chair of the CBA national civil litigation section and on the CBA national council.

William Stuart Dick was called to the B.C. Bar in 1993. Dick has extensive experience in insurance defense and personal injury litigation. In 2014, he joined Murphy Battista LLP and currently represents plaintiffs in personal injury, medical malpractice and insurance claims though practising out of both the Kelowna and Vernon offices. He has served on the board of governors for the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia (TLABC), as the TLABC representative with the Access to Justice BC Leadership Group, and as a member of the British Columbia Supreme Court Rules Committee. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at the UBC faculty of law.

Lindsay Margaret Lyster received a LLB from UBC in 1991 and was called to the B.C. bar in 1993. Lyster practises in human rights, labour, employment, constitutional and administrative law, acting primarily for unions and employees before administrative tribunals and all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She has served as the president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association since 2012. She is also the co-chair of the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C. (CLEBC) Human Rights Conference.

Nazeer Tajdin Mitha received a LLB from Dalhousie University in 1992 and was called to the B.C. bar the following year. His practice consists of commercial litigation, employment-related law with an emphasis on civil litigation of employment matters and shareholder disputes. Since 2014, he has been an adjunct professor in employment law at UBC’s Allard School of Law. He is a current member of the national conciliation and arbitration board of the Ismaili Muslim community, providing pro bono mediation and mentoring services to the Ismaili community. He has also served as the president, vice-president and board member of the Law Courts Inn.

Michelle Denise Stanford received a LLB from the University of Victoria in 1992 and was called to the B.C. bar in 1993. Stanford is the former president of the Kamloops Bar Association and has served on its executive team for many years. She is a founding member and chair of the Kamloops Inns of Court and was a founder and director of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers. She is active in all three local sections of the CBABC as well as serving as the Kamloops representative to both the TLABC’s legal aid action committee and the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society.

Julianne Krystal Lamb received a LLB from the University of Toronto in 1993 and was called to the B.C. bar the following year. In addition to her practice work, Lamb is a member and the chair of the CBABC advisory committee to the judicial council (provincial court appointments). She is an adjunct professor and lecturer at the University of Victoria, teaching insurance law. She has been co-author of the insurance chapter for the CLEBC Annual Review of Law and Practice for the past seven years and contributing author for the annual B.C. Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Manual for approximately 11 years.

Aleem Shiraz Bharmal received a LLB from the Allard School of Law at UBC in 1994. Bharmal is the executive director and a human rights lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society. He is also the chair of the CBABC access to justice committee and co-chair of both the human rights and social justice sections, and sits on the executive team of the administrative law section and is a member of the truth and reconciliation working group. He also worked as a human rights officer for the United Nations’ High Commission for Human Rights, where he assisted in reporting on the administration of justice and ongoing human rights violations in Rwanda.

Mary Audna Buttery was called to the B.C. bar in 1993. Buttery has built a career specializing in corporate insolvency law. She sits on two editorial advisory boards, and has been engaged in, both as a speaker and as chair, various legal education seminars in British Columbia and nationally, including for the CBABC, the Law Society of British Columbia, CLEBC and the Annual Review of Insolvency Law. She has also been an adjunct professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law.

Nikos Emil Harris was called to the B.C. bar in 1997. In addition to his practice at Peck and Company, Harris is a legal educator on criminal law, criminal procedure, ethics, evidence and torts. He is the director of experiential learning at the Allard School of Law. He has also made significant contributions to the Indigenous legal studies program. He was co-founder of the UBC Innocence Project, which advocates on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. He is a regular speaker for CLEBC and appears at many law conferences and forums.

Steven Ronald McKoen was called to the B.C. bar in 1998. McKoen is a bencher of the Law Society of B.C. and a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, where he focuses on domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, reorganizations and corporate governance. He has been an adjunct professor in the faculty of law at both UBC and the University of Victoria. He currently serves on the UBC dean’s advisory committee for the Centre for Business Law. Since 2006, he has provided pro bono advice to artists and non-profits through the Artists Legal Outreach clinic run by the Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society.

Brock Andrew Martland received a LLB from the University of Victoria in 1999. Martland has built a varied career that has included serving as counsel for former provincial wards, litigating complex interpretive issues and criminal defense counsel, including high-profile cases like the Air India and Surrey Six trials. He has been a presenter, panelist or chair at numerous conferences and programs, including Federation of Law Societies national criminal program, B.C. Civil Liberties Association and others. He volunteers his time and experience assisting the UBC Innocence Project and Access Pro Bono, and has been a guest lecturer at UBC Allard School of Law on criminal law, youth justice, ethics, advocacy and wrongful convictions.

Michael Andre Feder received a LLB from UBC in 2003. Feder has practised in many areas including public law, commercial litigation and appellate litigation. He also conducts extensive pro bono work for many local, national and international public interest organizations, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society, UNAIDS, and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. He also contributes to the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, which provides free, non-partisan advocacy advice to lawyers arguing Supreme Court of Canada appeals.

Celeste Ann Haldane received a LLB from UBC in 2004 and a master of laws from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law school in 2013. Haldane is a community member of both the Musqueam and Metlakatla First Nations. She is the chief commissioner for the BC Treaty Commission. She also sits on the UBC board of governors as chair of the Indigenous engagement committee. She has also served on the board of directors for LSS, Brain Canada Foundation, the Indigenous Bar Association and the Hamber Foundation.

James Nicholas Harvey was called to the B.C. bar in 2005. Harvey is the assistant deputy attorney general, heading the ministry’s Legal Services Branch. He is involved in all decisions relating to civil legal matters affecting the Province and routinely briefs the Premier, attorney general, deputy attorney general and other ministers. He previously served as counsel with the Ministry of Attorney General’s Finance Commercial and Transportation Group, where he advised on public infrastructure projects throughout British Columbia.

Claire Elizabeth Hunter was called to the B.C. bar in 2010. Hunter joined Hunter Litigation Chambers in 2010. She is also the president of Access Pro Bono. She is a prominent voice for the provision of pro bono services and a frequent presenter on access-to-justice issues. She has served as chair of the CBA’s national pro bono committee and is vice-chair of the Law Society of B.C.’s access to legal services committee. She has contributed to numerous other organizations, including Human Rights First, Law Courts Inn and Advocates Society.