- About Us
- Executive Leadership Team
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- Key Initiatives
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
- The Future of Professional Development
- Indigenous Initiatives
- Indigenous Land Acknowledgements
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #27
- Indigenous Advisory Committee
- Indigenous Summer Student Program
- Indigenous Mentorship Program
- Indigenous Cultural Competency Resources
- Indigenous Initiatives Counsel
- Innovation Sandbox
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Established by Bencher consensus Sept. 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 Dec. 5, 2019.
Kathleen Ryan QC was born and raised in Edmonton. She received her Bachelor of Arts (with distinction) in 1988 and her Bachelor of Laws in 1991, both from the University of Alberta. She was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1992.
She is a litigation partner at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP in Edmonton. She practices in a number of litigation fields including consumer and injury litigation, professional negligence, employment litigation, and commercial litigation. Since 2016, she has been recognized annually by Best Lawyers in Canada (Corporate and Commercial Litigation). She has twice been recognized by Lexpert as a Leading Practitioner in Canada (Personal Injury Litigation).
Kathleen received her Queen’s Counsel (QC) designation in 2012. She was elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta in 2011, 2014 and 2017 and served on the Law Society of Alberta Board for nine years. Ms. Ryan was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 for 2013, was a WILL award recipient (Women in Law Leadership – broader roles) in 2017, and received the ACTLA President’s Award in 2019. Ms. Ryan has been a director of the Alberta Law Reform Institute since 2019, She is a board member of the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild (and a past President) and the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association, ex officio (and a past President). She was the President of the Edmonton Ringette Club from 2013 to 2017. Ms. Ryan co-chaired the Creating Safe Spaces Anti-Bullying breakfast from 2010 through 2013. Ms. Ryan has been a presenter at numerous legal seminars and was guest lecturer at the University of Alberta in Professional Responsibility (Ethics in Negotiations). She has frequently taught or evaluated the CPLED course in Negotiations from 2001 through 2018. Ms. Ryan is the Chair of the Law Society of Alberta Equity Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and the Lawyer Competence Advisory Committee. She also continues her service to the Law Society as a Non-Bencher Adjudicator.
Lola Antonius was called to the Alberta Bar Association in 2017 and has been working with child protection matters prior to her call as a student-at-law representing parents. She resides and practises law in Grande Prairie, Alberta; a northern Alberta Community with a significant population struggling with poverty, addiction and violence.
Her personal and professional experience allows her to excel as legal counsel for children and youth. Lola is a registered Status Indian with the Saddle Lake Cree Nation and can understand the Cree language however, is working on improving her verbal Cree. She has witnessed firsthand the tragic effects of poverty, violence and addiction on the Aboriginal family structure.
Prior to practising law, Lola worked with numerous Aboriginal organizations and has extensive knowledge regarding Aboriginal issues. She has worked with all levels of government and prepared numerous briefs, memorandums, speeches, proposals and contracts related to Indigenous issues. Lola has extensive legal research experience that includes examining current band membership and election codes, specific land claims and human resource issues, and currently the development of child protection legislation under the federal act, An Act Respecting First Nation, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families. Lola gained experience working with employees, band members and leadership struggling with various social issues that have resulted in conflict with the law.
As an articling student, Lola immediately applied for the Legal Aid roster and began working with families and represented numerous children involved in family law matters. She is also on the legal roster with the Office of the Child Youth Advocate.
Elizabeth (Beth) Burton was called to the British Columbia bar in 2005 and the Alberta bar in 2007. Originally from Prince Edward Island, she has called Alberta home since 2007. Beth holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (2001) from the University of Prince Edward Island and her Bachelor of Laws (2004) from the University of British Columbia. Currently a partner in the Financial Institutions & Services Group in Gowling WLG’s Calgary office, she is also the co-lead of the firm’s National ESG group. Beth works with a variety of financial institutions and corporate clients, delivering strategic advice for both syndicated and bilateral financing transactions. She has an extensive background in financial services law and has represented lenders and borrowers in financing transactions across a range of industries including the energy, agricultural and real estate sectors, as well as in Indigenous business ventures. Beth advises on cross-border financings and is also a trusted advisor in restructuring financings, intercreditor arrangements and corporate and real estate matters. She is a member of Gowling WLG’s National Diversity & Inclusion Council and was previously involved with the National Women’s Strategy Advisory Committee of Pride at Work Canada and the Law Society of Alberta’s Justicia Project. She was also a member of the North West Calgary Community Advisory Group for the Rocky Ridge (Calgary) recreational facility prior to its opening in January 2018. In her spare time Beth is active in the local sporting community and cares for an eclectic group of animals in the Foothills of Alberta.
Sania Chaudhry is Conduct Counsel at the Real Estate Council of Alberta, prior to which she practised in family and immigration law. She is also a current part-time student at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law in the Masters of Law program, with her research focusing on critical race theory and administrative law in the context of reasonable apprehension of bias. Sania is also a current Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Alberta Board Director, Board Liaison and Past Chair of the CBA Alberta Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Member of the CBA National Equality Subcommittee, Board Director of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers – Western Chapter, Practice Group Leader of The Advocates’ Society Regulatory & Administrative Law Group, Board Director of the Centre for Sexuality, and Chair of the Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Association of Muslim Lawyers. Her op-ed highlighting intersectionality and mental health in the legal profession was recently published in the Globe and Mail and she has published other articles on EDI issues in the profession elsewhere as well over the years. She was recognized in 2022 as a Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council of Global Cooperation.
Gabriel Chen is the Senior Counsel, Litigation Services, at Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG), Alberta’s first non-profit legal clinic, now celebrating 50 years of providing free legal services to Albertans in need. Gabriel specializes in serving clients with dealing with issues of homelessness and mental health, and oversees the CLG student program. 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.”
Katrina Edgerton-McGhan is a complex litigation and regulatory lawyer who specializes in challenging and high value disputes. She has extensive commercial litigation experience in a broad range of sectors, including education, utilities, procurement, insurance, fraud, finance and securities. Katrina does regulatory work, particularly with the Alberta Utilities Commission and advises multi-national insurance companies of regulatory requirements.
She sits on a number of the boards and volunteers extensively and is currently:
- Chair of the board of the Women + Power Society, an organization that supports and amplifies the voices of women who work in the electricity industry.
- A director and officer for Lawyers for Equity, Access and Diversity (LEAD) Alberta, where she co-manages the Iris Barry Yake Robe Bank in the Calgary Courthouse.
- Vice President of the Scarboro Community Association and Chair of the Internal Relations Committee
- Chair of the By-Law Committee of Sunalta School Council, Liaison between the Scarboro Community Association and Sunalta School Council and Director of the Sunalta School Parent’s Society.
- A mentor through a number of different organizations, including the Law Society Mentor Express Program, the Association of Women Lawyers, the Canadian Bar Association , and informally.
Bryan Hunter is currently Senior Legal Counsel at AltaLink, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company. Bryan provides strategic advice and counsel on regulatory, Indigenous and general in-house corporate matters. He has assisted his clients in receiving approvals for many large energy projects and has been extensively involved in utility rate development in Alberta. At AltaLink, Bryan has had roles as Legal Counsel as well as management and is currently the secretary for the Compliance Planning Committee. Recently, he assisted with the acquisition of an international transmission line and the establishment of regulatory procedures for reporting and operation.
Bryan is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta and throughout the years, he has led and participated in various capacities on Indigenous issues and initiatives in Canada. Since 2018, he has assisted and participated in diversity, equity and inclusion matters at Berkshire Hathaway Energy as well as AltaLink. He holds a Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Computer Science with a minor in Business and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alberta.
Born in Elk Point, a small town in northeastern Alberta, Kristy Isert is guided by uncompromised integrity and commitment to the community born from her rural roots and Metis ancestry.
Kristy completed a BSc (Honours) in Biological Sciences, a BA (Honours) in Native Studies, and Aboriginal Governance and Partnerships Certificate from the University of Alberta before completing her Juris Doctor (JD) at Osgoode Hall Law School. As a part of her law degree, Kristy participated in Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Government where she completed an internship at the Waitangi Tribunal, a permanent commission of inquiry in New Zealand that investigates indigenous claims against the crown.
Following law school, Kristy returned to northeastern Alberta to article and was called to the bar on Aug. 9, 2013. After practising for a short time at a small rural law firm, Kristy joined the City of Cold Lake where she is currently the General Manager of Corporate Services. Focusing her career in municipal law and governance, Kristy completed the University of Alberta’s Certificate in Municipal Management and Leadership and the National Advanced Certificate in Local Authority Administration Level 1 and 2 (with distinction). Kristy has also instructed Business Law and Criminal Justice courses at the local post-secondary institution, Portage College.
Kristy has volunteered extensively in governance and social justice roles as a Director for the local women’s shelter the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre, Appointed Member of the Alberta Metis Women’s Economic Security Council, Director of the Muriel Lake Basin Management Society, Duty Counsel for the Community Legal Aid Services (York University), Director of the University of Alberta Campus Food Bank, and Counsellor at the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre.
Kathryn Oviatt is a Chartered Arbitrator and administrative law lawyer, with expertise in human rights, labour and employment, and professional regulation. She currently sits as the interim Chief of the Commission and Tribunals of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. A Tribunal Member since 2015, she is now serving her third term on the Tribunal and has been the Acting Chief since 2020.
Kathryn is also an active labour arbitrator in Alberta, adjudicating complex labour disputes in unionized workplaces. She also sits on the Hearing Panel for the Real Estate Council of Alberta and as Arbitrator for the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. She was formerly a board member for the Subdivision Appeal Board of the City of Edmonton and an unjust dismissal adjudicator for the Federal Mediation Conciliation Services adjudicating wrongful dismissal complaints under the Canada Labour Code. Kathryn has published almost 100 decisions as an independent neutral adjudicator. Her decisions are regularly cited as precedents on issues of discrimination, credibility, the evidentiary burden of proof, and damages.
Michelle Plouffe has over 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. Michelle has worked in private practice and in the municipal, utilities, health and post-secondary sectors and is currently the City Solicitor for the City of Edmonton. 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 is currently a member of the Balancing Pool Board of Directors and is the Vice-Chair of the Kids’ Kottage Foundation. She has been a volunteer member of the Law Society’s Audit and Finance, Audit, and Conduct Committees and is currently a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
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, she was granted the Edmonton Daughter of the Year award in 2016 by Canadians for a Civil Society.
Born in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, Ugo Ukpadi 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. As well, Ugo is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary.
Jeffrey Westman (pronouns he/him) is a queer lawyer and police officer with the Edmonton Police Service. His practice is focused mainly on administrative, criminal, and civil litigation. He attended law school at the University of Calgary, articled at a national firm in Calgary, and was called to the bar in August 2020. Before becoming a lawyer, he was a front-line police officer for the Edmonton Police Service for ten years with experience working in patrol, community liaison, and child protection. He volunteers with a number and variety of community organizations.
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.