Executive Committee Members 2022/2023

Chris Heslinga | PRESIDENT

Chris Heslinga graduated from UBC Law and was called to the bar in 2013. He started his career at a criminal defense firm and then went on to work in family law and general civil litigation. In 2015 Chris returned to UBC to be the Civil Supervising Lawyer for the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and Adjunct Professor for the LSLAP for Credit Program. Chris also works as one of the roster lawyers for the Community Legal Advice Society’s, Mental Health Law Program where he represents individuals detained against their will under the Mental Health Act. He also volunteers for Pro Bono Students Canada, putting on family law workshops with UBC law students at community centres across the lower mainland. Chris is also a temporary Supervising Lawyer for the UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic.

Megan Longley, KC | VICE-PRESIDENT

Megan Longley, KC joined the Schulich School of Law in the fall of 2021 as Executive Director of Dalhousie Legal Aid Service where she is responsible for teaching, administration of the clinic, and representing clients in criminal and family courts. Megan graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1994 and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1995. After a period in private practice, she joined Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) in 1999. Megan’s practice was primarily as criminal defense counsel, in the Youth Court for a good portion of her career. She became manager of Nova Scotia Legal Aid’s Youth Justice Office in 2011. In 2015 Megan joined NSLA’s Executive Office as Service Delivery Director and became CEO of Nova Scotia Legal Aid in 2016. Megan is past president of the Nova Scotia Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and recently completed two terms on the board of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Megan has also represented the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada on Canada’s National Action Committee on Access to Justice. Megan has been on the Board of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice Board since 2021.

Jennifer Fehr | TREASURER

Jennifer supervises the Employment Law and Academic Appeals division at Downtown Legal Services in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Jennifer attended Osgoode Hall Law School where she was a student at Parkdale Community Legal Services and Wilson Mooting Champion. Jennifer articled for the Canadian Autoworkers Unions and labour and employment law which is now Ursel Phillps Fellows Hopkinson. Following her call to the bar in 2008, Jennifer practiced labour law at arbitration tribunals for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union before joining DLS in 2016 where she supervises students representing clients at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, Human Rights Tribunal, Small Claims Court as well as U of T academic tribunals.  Jennifer is a member of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers and Worker’s Rights Advocacy Group. She is a former Vice Chair of METRAC.

Jeannette Savoie | SECRETARY

Jeannette Savoie is a Supervising Lawyer at the UNB Legal Clinic. She who brings nearly 20 years of practice experience to the position, including ten years with the Legal Aid Commission of the Northwest Territories. Ms. Savoie believes strongly in promoting access to justice through actions rather than words. During her time in the north, she established and operated the Outreach Legal Aid Clinic, which provides free legal representation to low-income people in matters relating to housing, disability and pension-related matters, employment issues, mental health and guardianship reviews, child protection matters, and debtor, creditor or civil claims.In addition to this work, Ms. Savoie partnered with Indigenous communities and the NWT Legal Aid Commission to conduct fly-in poverty law clinics and other mobile legal clinics for isolated communities. Her advocacy work has made a significant impact on these communities, expanding legal services and access to justice throughout the Northwest Territories.

Benjamin Ries | Member-at-large

Benjamin Ries is the supervising lawyer for Housing Law at Downtown Legal Services, the flagship student legal clinic of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He previously served as duty counsel at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board and practiced as a staff lawyer in four other community legal clinics between Hamilton and downtown Toronto. Ben is an active member of the Greater Toronto Clinic Housing Advocates, the Canadian Network for Health and Housing of People Experiencing Homelessness (CNH-3), and the St. Michael’s Hospital Health Justice Faculty.

Lilian Bahgat | Member-at-large

Lilian has served as Review Counsel for Community Legal Aid (CLA) at the University of Windsor since 2015.  Prior to joining CLA Lilian worked in private practice primarily on Civil, Employment, Estate and Elder Abuse Litigation. Lilian’s practice always revolved around advocating for the vulnerable members of the community.  She holds a certificate in Elder Law from Osgoode Law School.  Lilian also conducted research on the topics of battered wife syndrome, patient rights and elder abuse.  Lilian is also a regular course instructor at the Elder College and taught as a sessional instructor at St. Clair College for their law clerk program.

Djemila Carron | Member-at-large

Djemila Carron is a professor at the Department of Law at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). Before joining UQAM in 2021, she was a senior lecturer at InZone (University of Geneva), where she led a human rights clinic gathering law students from Geneva, Nairobi and the refugee camp of Kakuma, Kenya. Between 2013 and 2018, she was a lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Geneva on the Law Clinic on the rights of vulnerable people that she co-founded in 2013. Additionally, she is the co-founder and co-organizer of the Law, Gender and Sexualities Network at the University of Geneva and an active member of the Réseau des Cliniques Juridiques Francophones.Djemila Carron graduated from the University of Geneva and was a visiting student at the Russian Law Academy (Moscow), Lomonosov University (Moscow) and Harvard University (Cambridge). She holds an LL.M. from Columbia University, where she participated to the Human Rights Clinic, and a PhD from the University of Geneva.

Laura Stairs | Member-at-large

Laura Stairs is the supervising lawyer for Public Benefits at Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW) in Windsor, Ontario. Laura attended the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, where she was a student at Community Legal Aid (CLA), LAW and in the CLA family law program. As a clinical law student, Laura was a student representative on the Board of ACCLE. While articling with a full service firm in Windsor, Laura joined the Board of Directors at LAW and after 2 years in private practice, she became a full time staff lawyer at LAW.

Elizabeth Mccandless | Member-at-large

Elizabeth Mccandless Liz McCandless joined the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba in 2022 as Senior Instructor. Liz became Director of Clinics in June 2023. In her role as clinical director, Liz oversees all clinical programming at the Faculty of Law, including externships, clerkships, moot competitions, articling, and first-year experiential learning courses. She also runs the “Reflective Practice for Externships” course, which is the academic component of all externships. From 2014 to 2021, Liz served as director and legal counsel for the Manitoba Law Reform Commission (MLRC). At the MLRC, Liz supervised internships and externships with law students and created and supervised Pro Bono Students Canada projects. Prior to her time at the MLRC, she practiced civil and public interest litigation primarily in the areas of human rights, constitutional, and Aboriginal law. She also served as Associate Counsel on the Commission of Inquiry Surrounding the Circumstances of the Death of Phoenix Sinclair. Liz continues to be a practicing member of the Manitoba Bar and supervises students doing rights-based work with the Rights Clinic at Robson Hall. She is also the principal of an articling student participating in the first-ever Robson Hall articling program.