Our board of directors

The Legal Services Society (LSS) is governed by a nine-member board of directors. The board is governed by policies and bylaws that reflect established best practices. Under its bylaws, the board's role is to "ensure the effective governance of the society through setting direction, monitoring performance, and hiring and supporting the executive director."

Of our nine board members:

  • five are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General, and
  • four are appointed by the Law Society of BC after consultation with the executive of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

The LSS Act outlines the need for the board as a whole to have a range of knowledge, skills, and experience in such areas as:

  • business management and the financial affairs of public and private sector organizations;
  • law and the operation of courts, tribunals, and alternative dispute resolution processes;
  • the provision of legal aid;
  • BC’s cultural and geographic diversity; and
  • the social and economic circumstances associated with the special legal needs of people with low incomes.

The board establishes three committees to help it carry out its responsibilities:

  • The Executive Committee, which is headed by the board chair and consists of at least three other board directors, and holds all the powers of the board between meetings.
  • The Finance Committee, which makes recommendations on the society's finances, funding, fiscal allocations, and risk management.
  • The Stakeholder Engagement Committee, which recommends ways to strengthen the society's relationship with key stakeholders in the justice system.

The chair, in consultation with the society's chief executive officer, appoints the members of these committees, unless the board directs otherwise. Specific inquiries should be directed to the corporate secretary.

Board governance practices

LSS is committed to strong corporate governance practices that enable public accountability and transparency. LSS adheres to the governance principles established by the Board Resourcing and Development Office (BRDO) and is in full compliance with BRDO guidelines.

To maintain excellence in board governance, the society reviews its governance framework regularly to ensure it meets the society's ongoing business needs while being consistent with recognized best practices.

The following board practices documents are in PDF.

Compensation disclosure statements

As required by the Financial Administration Act, under a Treasury Board Directive, LSS discloses board remuneration annually: 2017/18 Board Remuneration Disclosure Statement.

Our board members

Meet the LSS board:
Jean P. Whittow, QC

Jean P. Whittow, QC

Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Chair, Executive Committee
Chair, Stakeholder Engagement Committee
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Jean is associate counsel with the Vancouver firm of Sugden, McFee & Roos LLP. Her practice is focussed on administrative law and professional regulation. She acts as counsel in investigations and hearings conducted by regulatory bodies, which she advises on topics such as legislation, scope of practice, privacy/disclosure, conflicts and design/review of regulatory processes. Jean formerly held a senior management position with the Law Society of British Columbia, the regulatory body for BC lawyers.

Jean is a group leader of the Law Society’s Inns of Court Program, which gives junior barristers an opportunity to discuss issues with senior lawyers. She was a member of the Law Society’s Trust Assurance Review Task Force and Disclosure Privacy Task Force. She is a frequent speaker on professional regulation and ethics. Jean received her law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1983 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2001.

Celeste Haldane, QC

Member, Executive Committee
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Celeste Haldane was appointed Chief Commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission in April 2017. Prior to that, she served as an elected commissioner for three two-year terms. She is a practising lawyer and holds an LLM in Constitutional Law from Osgoode Hall (York University), and an LLB and BA from the University of British Columbia (UBC). In 2015, she began her doctorate in Anthropology and Law at UBC. Celeste was appointed by the provincial government to serve on the Legal Services Society's Board of Directors and the UBC Board of Governors. She is also director of the Brain Canada Foundation and the Hamber Foundation, as well as an active member of the Indigenous Bar Association and Canadian Bar Association. She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2018.

Celeste is a member of the Sparrow family from Musqueam First Nation and is Tsimshian through Metlakatla. She previously served on the Musqueam Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and the Housing and Capital Committee. Celeste is the proud mother of three children and grandmother of two.

Alison MacPhail

Alison MacPhail

Chair, Finance Committee
Member, Executive Committee
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Alison MacPhail is a lawyer and consultant on justice, governance, and organization issues, focusing on justice reform and access to justice. Internationally she has worked on alternatives to incarceration, domestic violence, criminal justice policy, reform and training.

Alison was deputy minister in the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, where she implemented a nationally recognized community mental health plan for children and youth. Prior to that she was Deputy Solicitor General and Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Justice, Ministry of Attorney General. Subsequently, as the Executive Lead for Criminal Justice Reform in the Government of BC, she planned and implemented Canada's first community court, creating a more effective legal process to reduce re-offending in downtown Vancouver.

At the federal level, Alison has held positions in the Solicitor General Secretariat. Prior to that she was assistant director of a legal aid clinic that provided legal services to prisoners in six federal penitentiaries.

Dinyar Marzban, QC

Dinyar Marzban, QC

Vice-Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Member, Finance Committee
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Dinyar Marzban is a senior partner with Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP. He practices in the areas of family law and mediation. Dinyar was called to the BC bar in 1982, and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2004. He is an advocate for justice system reform, particularly in family law. He is the founder of the Supreme Court pro bono mediation service and regularly provides free legal advice through Access Pro Bono.

Dinyar was a member of the Family Justice Reform Working Group for the Justice Review Task Force established in 2002. His professional memberships include fellow of the International Society of Barristers; fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (provincial committee chair, 2011-2012); former chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s Vancouver Family Law Subsection; and member of the Committee on Relations with the Judiciary and the Nova Scotia Barristers Society; and a past member for two terms of the Supreme Court Rules Committee. He has written and presented extensively on various family law topics.

Gisela Ruebsaat

Gisela Ruebsaat

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee
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Gisela Ruebsaat (BA, LLB) is an independent legal analyst, writer and scholar. She has played a lead role in key justice reform initiatives throughout her career. As an analyst for the Ending Violence Association of BC, Gisela worked with police, corrections and community advocates to design and implement provincial anti-violence programs to improve access to justice for marginalized women. Many of these BC-born initiatives, such as the provincial Third Party Reporting Protocol, are now generating interest across Canada.

Gisela also worked at the Ontario Ministries of Attorney General, and Citizenship and Culture, developing race relations, human rights and multiculturalism policies. Gisela received the Silver Medal Award from the Ontario government and the BC Building a Safer Future Award for her anti-violence work.

In 2006 Gisela co-authored a groundbreaking study that documented police misclassification of sexual assault cases, ultimately leading to a national review of police practices. In 2016, Gisela was nominated by MOSAIC and selected to serve as one of 150 woman leaders in Canada to support gender equality.

Gisela is an accomplished poet and scholar whose work has appeared in both literary and academic journals. Her debut poetry collection, Heart Mechanic, was published in 2016.

Nathalie Baker

Nathalie Baker

Member, Finance Committee
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Nathalie Baker is associate counsel at the firm of Stevens Virgin Litigation Counsel. She has been practicing primarily in the areas of municipal and administrative law since she was called to the BC bar in 2002. She represents landowners, developers, citizens groups and business owners on a wide range of local government matters that fall under the Local Government Act, the Community Charter and the Vancouver Charter. She has a particular interest in land use matters and issues of procedural fairness.

Nathalie is a contributing author of Continuing Legal Education BC’s Real Estate Development Practice Manual and has spoken at a number of conferences on municipal matters and on the topic of integrity in local government. She is also fluent in French and volunteers for the Access Pro Bono francophone telephone clinic.

Christine Smith-Martin

Christine Smith-Martin

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee
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Christine Smith-Martin is of Haida and Tsimshian descent and grew up on the North Coast of British Columbia. She spent 19 years as the executive director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society, spending most of her time building capacity within Vancouver’s urban community.

Christine played a key role in the formation of the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council. Her board experience extends beyond Canadian borders, as she is a trustee of the Christensen Fund, a philanthropic foundation based in San Francisco.

Christine is married and considers her four children and five grandchildren her best accomplishment. She carries two traditional names from her communities: Lidayts lax neega neexl (Tsimshian) and Xaad Xyella (Haida)

Donna M. Turko, QC

Member
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Donna M. Turko, QC, graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1991. She also earned a bachelor's and master's degree in Sociology from the University of BC. In 2017, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel. She is also honoured to have received the Harry Rankin, QC, Pro Bono Award in 2017. Donna is an executive member (Advisory Committee) of the Criminal Defence Advisory Committee C-DAS. She has mentored and lectured at the UBC Innocence Project. She is also a reviewer for the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted.

Donna has been invited to speak at numerous conferences for judges and lawyers, including the National Judicial Conference, and Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Continuing Legal Education and Trial Lawyers Association of BC conferences. She is a participant in the Inns of Court program whereby judges and lawyers join to mentor junior counsel.

Donna has served on numerous CBA committees including the CBA Criminal Subsection Committee for Sentencing and Release, Legal Aid Committee, the Advisory Committee to the Judicial Council, Government Relations Committee, and the BarTalk Editorial Board.

Donna has taught at the UBC Allard School of Law and has been principal to over 26 articling students.