Executive Committee Members 2022/2023

Benjamin Ries | PRESIDENT

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.

Chris Heslinga | VICE-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.

Jennifer Fehr | SECRETARY

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.

Steve Perks | TREASURER

Steve Perks is an Assistant Teaching Professor and the Director of The Law Centre Clinical Program at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law.  The Law Centre operates a legal clinic where students enrolled in the program as an experiential learning course, provide essential legal services to persons who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer.

Members at Large 2022/2023


Chantelle Johnson

Chantelle Johnson has been the Executive Director (ED) of Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc. (CLASSIC) since 2012.  She has sociology and law degrees from the University of Saskatchewan.  Chantelle’s work experience is varied and ranges from:

  • private practice,
  • the Indigenous Law and Justice Branch of the Australian Department of Justice and Attorney General (policy),
  • the Child Sexual Exploitation Unit in Alberta (policy),
  • Crown Prosecutions in BC (trial lawyer),
  • the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (policy and legal research), and
  • consultant to First Nations’ Trust.

Chantelle believes all people deserve respect and dignity and knows CLASSIC’s clients have far more to teach the students and staff than the other way around. Chantelle thinks we often take ourselves too seriously and believes that philosophy has helped her survive as ED of a non-profit.

LA Henry

LA Henry is a family law, criminal defence and immigration lawyer in Fredericton, and the Executive Director of the Fredericton Legal Advice Clinic (FLAC) and the Youth Access to Justice Clinic and Outreach Program. She is the 2016 recipient of the E. Neil McKelvey QC Pro Bono and Volunteer Service Award from the Canadian Bar Association—New Brunswick. LA articled at the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in 2010-2011.

Before studying law at UNB, she was a professor of Literature at St. Stephen’s University and an instructor in the Department of English at UNB. LA is a published poet and enjoys playing bass guitar. She has a BA and MA from the University of Ottawa (1984 and 1986), a PhD from the University of New Brunswick (1997) and an LLB from the University of New Brunswick (2010).

Ruby Dhand

Ruby Dhand, B.A., M.A., LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). Dr. Dhand has been awarded the SSHRC Insight Development Grant, the CIHR Fellowship in Health Law and Policy, the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, along with multiple Law Foundation of BC Grants. Her major areas of research are mental health law (civil and forensic), human rights law, health law and policy, disability law, access to justice, the impact of race, culture, ethnicity and other intersectional factors upon the law, clinical legal education and science and law.  Dr. Dhand has worked as a human rights lawyer, specializing in disability law and mental health law. She has been part of test-case litigation teams on major cases at the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Court of Canada. At TRU’s Faculty of Law, she teaches in the areas of Mental Health Law, Health Law, Human Rights Law, Clinical Legal Education and Community Lawyering.

Lilian Bahgat

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

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.

Tess Sheldon

Tess Sheldon is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor. She writes, presents and teaches extensively on a variety of access to justice, disability, mental health and human rights topics. She has practiced exclusively with Ontario’s legal clinic system, including at ARCH Disability Law Centre and Justice for Children and Youth. She was Visiting Professor and Interim Academic Director of the Disability Law Intensive at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (2018-2019). She was the recipient of an Osgoode Hall Law School Teaching Award in 2018.

Nadia Rumore

Nadia Rumore is the Senior Staff Lawyer at Legal Help Centre of Winnipeg Inc., which is a non-profit legal clinic located in the heart of downtown Winnipeg that provides free legal services and social support to lower income individuals.  Nadia received her LLB in 2005, and thereafter practiced exclusively in the area of family law. Nadia’s passion for helping those most in need, and for mentoring those around her, led her to join Legal Help Centre in January of 2017.  In her current role, Nadia oversees all services provided to the public, as well as student placement and experiential learning opportunities offered to students from the University of Manitoba’s law school (Robson Hall).  She is also the supervising lawyer for the Family Law Clinic at Legal Help Centre.

Nadia also enjoys volunteering and currently sits on the Practice and Ethics Committee and the Discipline Committee for the Law Society of Manitoba, and is a member of the Family Law Modernization Collaboration Table for the Province of Manitoba.  Nadia is also a past member of the Access to Justice Committee of the Canadian Bar Association.

Jeannette Savoie

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.

A native of New Brunswick, Ms. Savoie earned a law degree from the Université de Moncton and an LLM in family law from Osgoode Hall Law School. She has appeared before all levels of court in the New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. In 2016, Ms. Savoie was named a National Legal Aid Leader by the Canadian Bar Association, recognized for her dedication to access to justice and her efforts to expand the range of legal services available to low-income, marginalized or geographically isolated populations.