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Established by Bencher consensus September 27, 2019 as Practice Foundations Advisory Committee in response to the articling survey results. Benchers agreed to disband Practice Foundations Task Force and replace with more targeted Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Lawyer Competence Committees December 5, 2019.
Viviana Berkman is an Energy and Environmental Law associate with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. Viviana graduated from the J.D. program at Universidad Catolica del Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay. She also obtained a Master of Laws degree in International Business Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Laws degree in Canadian Common Law from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Prior to joining Cassels, Viviana worked as an associate in the Energy and Infrastructure practice group of one of Uruguay’s major firms. Viviana is a Director at Global Lawyers of Canada and a mentor with the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC).
Sania Chaudhry is currently an Associate at Stewart Sharma Harsanyi, before which she articled at a small firm, practicing in family, immigration, employment, human rights, and wills and estates. She was called to the bar on August 6, 2019. Her undergraduate degree was focused on intersectionality, gender, race, and policy. Sania has published articles on race, policy, ongoing colonization, missing and murdered women, sexuality, islamophobia, homophobia, and power in society as well as power dynamics in small groups, in peer-reviewed journals based on my social science and legal research. Prior to her career in law, Sania worked in a social science research centre where she researched the health impacts of policy level determinants on sexual minority youth and the well-being and academic outcomes of certain policy-level changes on these determinants. At the same time, she volunteered with a non-profit focused on legal advocacy and reform for indigenous and other marginalized women. Sania then obtained a Social Justice Specialization during her law degree at the University of British Columbia where she was one among eight students chosen from a large pool of applicants to be part of the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at the university. She led two research projects for the Clinic teams, including one on Islamophobia. Sania is a currently regular volunteer at Calgary Legal Guidance, is participating in the CBA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and is a part of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers as well as the Association of Women Lawyers.
Gabriel Chen is the Senior Counsel, Litigation Services, at Calgary Legal Guidance, Alberta’s largest and first non-profit legal clinic providing free legal services to low-income Calgarians since 1972. Gabriel specializes in serving clients with dealing with issues of homelessness and mental health. Gabriel was named one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine, received the Arthur R. Smith Award for front-line service to Calgary’s homeless, and was the recipient of the Alberta Civil Liberties Award. Gabriel was featured in the Telus Optik documentary series “Alberta Mavericks” and is a regular panelist on criminal justice issues on the CTV2 newsmagazine Alberta Primetime.
Katrina Edgerton-McGhan is a complex litigation lawyer who specializes in challenging and high value disputes. She has extensive commercial litigation experience in a broad range of sectors, including fraud, education, utilities, procurement, insurance, finance, and securities. Katrina does regulatory work as well, including securities commission and AUC work. She is involved in intensive and high publicity matters with organizations and individuals under scrutiny and facing tight timelines.
She sits on a number of the boards and volunteers extensively and is currently:
- On the board of Lawyers for Equity, Access and Diversity (LEAD) Alberta. Among other things, LEAD worked with a number of legal organizations and firms with targeted audiences of young lawyers to encourage high rates of completion for the articling student survey, and were very pleased with the comparatively high rates of completion of this survey. Targeted groups included: FACL, Assist, AWL, firms (but particularly big firms), Fresh at Law, Alberta Justice, Advocates Society;
- Chair of the board of the new Women + Power Society, an organization that supports and amplifies the voices of women who work in the electricity industry. This is a start-up non-profit and work has included working closely with the founder to go from concept to execution.
- A mentor through a number of different organizations, including the Law Society Mentor Express Program, the AWL, the CBA, and informally.
Makiko Hata graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, with distinction (1999) and with a Bachelor of Laws (2003). She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 2004. Prior to joining ATB Financial, Makiko was a solo practitioner, practiced with a small firm in Sherwood Park and with a mid-sized firm in Edmonton. At ATB Financial, some of the areas she supports are channels and payments, and payments modernization. Makiko says she is driven to address the reports of discrimination and harassment identified in the surveys – discrimination and harrassment are completely unacceptable in our profession, in our society. To do this, she believes we must be genuine and transparent as possible about the change we want to achieve.
Prior to making Alberta her home, Stefanie Kingsbury spent a number of years in Saskatoon where she attended the University of Saskatchewan College of Arts & Science and the College of Law. While in university Stefanie engaged in a variety of projects and volunteer opportunities including working with Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Dean’s Forum Access to Justice Project. Stefanie came to Alberta in 2016 after obtaining her juris doctor and was called to the Alberta Bar in 2017.
With an enthusiasm for advocacy Stefanie’s primary practice area is in civil litigation specializing in insurance. Community involvement within the profession is important to Stefanie and she is a member of the Calgary Bar Association, Advocates’ Society, Association of Women Lawyers (Calgary), and is on the board of the Young Women Lawyers Association (Calgary). Stefanie is passionate about the equality and inclusion of all legal professionals and looks forward to working with the Law Society of Alberta to achieve a brighter future for the profession.
Jenny McMordie is a civil litigator who has worked in firms of all sizes, from the largest in the country, to a firm with 2 lawyers. She has worked with students, junior lawyers and mentees at every opportunity and is currently proudly acting as a principal to her own student. As a female lawyer in practice for 20 years, Jenny is well familiar with issues of harassment and discrimination and sees the need to work towards a profession which provides safe and supportive workplaces to its diverse membership and those seeking to join it. Jenny has always volunteered extensively within the profession, including having served as the President of the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch (2018-2019) and as a Peer Support Volunteer for the Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society for many years. She currently chairs the Agenda for Justice Committee for CBA-Alberta and co-chairs its Automobile Insurance Working Group.
Michelle Plouffe has 25 years of legal and leadership experience. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree (with distinction) (1992) and her Law degree (1995) both from the University of Alberta. Ms. Plouffe has worked in private practice and in the utilities, health and post-secondary sectors and is currently the Vice President and General Counsel at MacEwan University. She is a seasoned Director with diverse senior level operational experience in complex organizations, providing extensive leadership, innovative solutions and value creation to all facets of operations. She is a trusted advisor who has proven expertise providing sound legal and strategic advice to boards and senior leadership.
Michelle Plouffe is currently the Chair of the Hospital Privileges Appeal Board, a member of the Balancing Pool Board of Directors and Chair of the Governance and HR Committee of the Balancing Pool Board, and a Director on the MacEwan Downtown Corporation. She is a former Board Member of the Association of Corporate Counsel Alberta Chapter Board. Ms. Plouffe has been a volunteer member of the Law Society’s Audit and Finance, Audit, and Conduct Committees. She was recently appointed as a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
Among the large volume of projects and initiatives that Michelle has developed and led at the University are the institutional safe disclosure program, sexual violence education and prevention program, diversity, equity and human rights program, and legislative compliance program.
In 2017, Michelle was granted a Women in Law Leadership Award for demonstrated leadership in law and diversity initiatives. For her commitment and service to the community in preventing gender-based violence and discrimination, Michelle was granted the Edmonton Daughter of the Year award in 2016 by Canadians for a Civil Society.
Chris Ryan graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta in 2019 and hopes to be called to the bar sometime in the middle of 2020. He finds a great breadth of civil law to be very engaging, from insurance to debt recovery, but also enjoys working on Charter related issues.
Chris first moved to Edmonton ten years ago to study music at Grant MacEwan and has lived in Edmonton ever since. Not long after beginning his undergraduate degree at Grant MacEwan, Chris was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. That diagnosis forced him out of music and into law. He hopes that his work on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee can help make for a more accessible and just profession.
Elena Sacluti was called to the Alberta bar in 2002 after completing her law degree at the U of A and articling with the Government of Canada. She has spent her legal career practising with both the federal and provincial governments, in litigation and solicitor capacities. She is currently the Director of the Environmental Law Section at Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Elena has experience in tax litigation, energy law, environmental law and legislative reform. She has a keen interest in mentoring new lawyers, particularly in an in-house counsel role. As part of that interest Elena led the Articling Student Program at Alberta Justice for several years. Outside of the practice of law she volunteers at an array of charities, and is a member of the Assessment Review Board for the City of St. Albert.
Born in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, Ugo was admitted to the Nigerian bar in 1995 and practised corporate/commercial litigation with premier local law firms before leaving Nigeria. Attracted to Canada on a graduate scholarship, Ugo first attended Carleton University, Ottawa, for his MA, and whilst in that program, was accepted into the highly competitive internship program of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Thereafter, Ugo completed his doctorate in international trade law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, as a Peter Hogg fellow. His doctoral dissertation, delivered in the fall of 2007, was nominated best overall dissertation in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Ugo was also a Hugo Grotius fellow at the University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, USA (2004). Ugo was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 2008 and worked in the commercial litigation group of a Tier 1 National law firm, Gowlings (now Gowlings WLG). He was also the compliance counsel of a major Alberta utility, ENMAX. Ugo volunteers extensively and recently completed a Board membership role in an Alberta charity, Fig Tree Foundation. Ugo is currently Principal at YYC Lawyers — a corporate law and litigation boutique in Calgary.
Dale Wispinski holds a BA (Honours) in Communications from the University of Calgary, an LL.B. from the University of Alberta, and a Certified In-House Counsel designation from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association. After several years in private practice, she joined the Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation as Legal Counsel in 2012. In 2014, she became the Commission’s General Counsel, with responsibility for all legal, privacy, knowledge management, training, quality assurance and communications functions across the organization. In 2018, she was appointed as the Commission’s Chief Appeals Commissioner and CEO. As Chief Commissioner, Dale has demonstrated a commitment to client service, stakeholder engagement, access to justice and respectful workplace initiatives.
Dale is a regular guest lecturer in Professional Responsibility and Public Law Advocacy classes at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Women in Law Leadership Award for Leadership in the Profession (Government) and was named one of Avenue Magazine’s Edmonton Top 40 Under 40.