Executive Committee Members 2020/2021

Natasha Brown is the Director of Professional Practice & Externships at the University of Manitoba- Faculty of Law (Robson Hall).  She is the former Legal Director of Legal Help Centre of Winnipeg, Inc. (“LHC”), a non-profit, inner-city legal clinic, which provides clinical legal education opportunities for law students. Natasha received her Bachelor of Education in 2001 and her Bachelor of Laws in 2005. Natasha worked in private practice, exclusively in the area of family law, until 2012 when she joined LHC. Natasha teaches Clinical Family Law and Advanced Family Law at Robson Hall and is responsible for overseeing clinical & experiential externship opportunities for law students.  Natasha sits on the Executive of the Manitoba Bar Association’s Women Lawyers Section and the Law Society of Manitoba’s Access to Justice Stakeholders Committee.  She is also an elected council member of the Manitoba Bar Association. 

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.

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).

Johanna Dennie is the Staff Migration Lawyer at Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW), a Community Legal Clinic in Windsor, Ontario that provides legal services and social work support to low-income residents of Windsor and Essex County. LAW also serves as a teaching clinic for law and social work students at the University of Windsor. Johanna provides representation and supervises students in the areas of Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Law. Johanna has co-taught the Clinic Seminar at the University of Windsor, for law students who are enrolled in the Clinic Practice Program. Johanna is a graduate of the University of Ottawa Law School. As a law student, she was a caseworker in the Women’s Division of the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic. She joined LAW after summering and completing her articles in Toronto with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, a specialized clinic which provides free legal, counselling, and interpretive services to women who have experienced violence. Johanna has spent her legal career in the clinic system, and cannot imagine practicing law in any other context.  

Martha Simmons has been the Director of Osgoode’s Mediation Intensive Program and Mediation Clinic since 2012.  She joined the full-time faculty in July 2017.  As Academic Director of the Winkler Institute, she also serves as the Winkler Professor in Dispute Resolution. Professor Simmons, who has JD, LLM and PhD degrees from Osgoode, was the recipient of an Osgoode Hall Law School Teaching Award in 2013 for her work in both the JD and Graduate Programs. Her primary areas of research and teaching are dispute resolution, legal education, innovation and access to justice. She is also the Director of the LLM in Dispute Resolution offered through Osgoode Professional Development.

Members at Large 2020/2021

Patricia Barkaskas earned a M.A. in History, with a focus on Indigenous histories in North America, and a J.D., with a Law and Social Justice Specialization, from the University of British Columbia. She is the Academic Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic and an Instructor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. Patricia has practiced in the areas of child protection (as parent’s counsel), criminal, family, as well as civil litigation and prison law. She has worked closely with Indigenous peoples in their encounters with the justice system and has worked for Residential school survivors as an historical legal researcher for the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. In addition, she has written Gladue reports for all levels of court in BC. Her current and future teaching and research interests include access to justice, clinical legal education, decolonizing and Indigenizing law, particularly examining the value of Indigenous pedagogies in experiential and clinical learning for legal education, and Indigenous laws. Patricia is Métis from Alberta.

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.  

Mirja Trilsch is a professor at the Department of Law at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) where she teaches Constitutional Law and International Human Rights Law. Since 2011, she is also the Director of UQAM’s International Clinic for the Defence of Human Rights (Clinique internationale de défense des droits humains de l’UQAM – CIDDHU in its French acronym). The CIDDHU was founded in 2005 and, at the time, was the first clinic of its kind in the francophone world. Through its innovative approach and its many years of experience, the CIDDHU has served as a model and, on some occasions, as a partner in the creation of other international human rights clinics. To this day, more than 300 students have been trained at the CIDDHU through collaborative projects with more than 50 partner organizations from around the world.

Born and raised in Germany, Mirja immigrated to Canada in 2007. She holds a law degree from the University of Düsseldorf (Germany) and a Master’s degree in International and Comparative Human Rights Law from McGill University (2001). In 2007, she obtained her PhD with distinction from the University of Düsseldorf (Germany), her thesis dealing with the justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Before joining UQAM, first as a lecturer and then as a professor, she taught at the University of Düsseldorf and worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She is fluent in German, English and French.


Lisa Cirillo, B.A. (University of Toronto), LL.B (Queen’s University), LL.M (Osgoode Hall Law School), is the Executive Director of Downtown Legal Services (DLS), the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Community Legal Clinic. She has practiced in the areas of human rights, education, housing and family law in a wide variety of social justice organizations including DLS, ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In addition to her legal work, Lisa has extensive experience in public legal education and community outreach. Lisa is a frequent presenter and requested speaker on a wide variety of public interest topics including family law, violence against women, poverty law, access to justice and human rights issues. Lisa is a member of the National Steering Committee for NAWL (National Association for Women and the Law) and joined the ACCLE Board in 2011. Lisa was recently appointed to serve as a member of Legal Aid Ontario’s Clinic Law Advisory Committee.

Tess Sheldon is an Assistant Professor and the Externship Director 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.

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.