Home Legal News 30 lawyers from B.C. awarded the King’s Counsel designation

30 lawyers from B.C. awarded the King’s Counsel designation

by HR Law Canada

Thirty lawyers from British Columbia have been awarded the King’s Counsel (KC) designation for their remarkable contributions to the legal profession. Among the awardees are lawyers from private practice, government, and academia who have made significant contributions to the profession through their teaching, publications, advocacy, and volunteerism.

The KC designation is a prestigious honor, and only 7% of practising lawyers in British Columbia can receive it at any given time. The designation allows the recipients to add the letters “KC” to their post-nominals to signify their exceptional merit and contribution to the profession, making it easier for colleagues and clients to recognize their achievements.

To be eligible for the King’s Counsel designation, the potential candidates must have been members of the British Columbia Bar for a minimum of five years. Their nomination is reviewed by an advisory committee, which includes the chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, the chief judge of the Provincial Court of B.C., the president of the Law Society of BC, and the president of the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, among others. The advisory committee then makes recommendations to the Attorney General, who ultimately makes the appointments.

Attorney General Niki Sharma congratulated the recipients and praised their efforts to make British Columbia a more just and equitable place. “The recipients of the honour of KC have made exemplary contributions to ensuring B.C. is a just and equitable place for everyone to live,” said Sharma. “This is a highly coveted honour, particularly because the recipients are nominated by their peers.”

The King’s Counsel designation recognizes the awardees’ exceptional contributions to the legal profession and their commitment to justice, equity, and service to the community. Their achievements will inspire future generations of lawyers to follow in their footsteps.

King’s Counsel appointees

The following King’s counsel appointees are listed chronologically by the date they were called to the bar:

William McLachlan (1975) practises civil litigation that includes insurance, contract, banking, family law disputes and transportation law. He has made contributions to the legal community through his pro bono work, his involvement with Legal Aid community clinics, his Vancouver Bar Association activities and his mentoring of young lawyers. He has lectured on family law topics for the Continuing Legal Education Society and has received a BV Distinguished rating from LexisNexis in legal ability and ethical standards.

Don Sihota (1986) has served on his firm’s ethics committee where he provided guidance to lawyers and created the firm’s ethical wall protocols for compliance with the Code of Professional Conduct. He has served the Continuing Legal Educational Society of B.C. for 28 years and is a founding author and member of the society’s award-winning publication, Due Diligence Deskbook. He established the Don Sihota and Denis Lim Charitable Fund through the Vancouver Foundation, which supports students pursuing degrees in law, teaching and social work.

Simon Buck (1987) is a criminal defence lawyer who has defended more than 1,000 trials involving kidnapping, extortion, drug importing and most significantly, more than 40 murder trials. He is a member of the Legal Services Society “Osmond” roster, a group of senior lawyers authorized to provide specialized advice to persons arrested on homicide charges. He has done many years of pro bono work for Beyond Borders, an international charity dedicated to confronting sexual crimes against children.

Cameron Belsher (1988) is a senior, leading commercial solicitor. He has played a significant role in the management of his firm, including chair of the National Board of Partners and leader of the national Mergers and Acquisitions practice group. He is an active mentor, a frequent speaker at legal education events and chair of the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, supporting the province’s largest hospital redevelopment.

Shafik Bhalloo (1990) has served on the Employment Standards Tribunal, the West Vancouver Police Board, including chairing its policy-governance and human resources committees, and the Vancouver Police Department’s Chief Constable’s Diversity Advisory Committee. He has provided pro bono legal counsel to the Pacific Autism Family Network, the Salvation Army and the provincial Conciliation and Arbitration Board of the Ismaili Muslim community. He has published in various peer-reviewed professional journals and with respect to decisions he has made as a tribunal member.

Rosanne Kyle (1993) has dedicated her legal career to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities. She has acted for First Nations clients in the B.C. treaty process and First Nations that are negotiating reconciliation agreements with the federal and provincial governments. She was an adjunct professor at University of British Columbia’s faculty of law and a guest lecturer at both Simon Fraser University’s resource and environmental management master’s program and the University of Victoria’s faculty of law. She has mentored many students and associates, including seven Indigenous lawyers.

Brendan McCabe (1993) is a senior trial Crown prosecutor who has worked for 15 years as a major crime trial counsel. He is a nationally recognized expert in the prosecution of “child sex tourism” cases and has presented at several conferences to law-enforcement agencies and lawyers, including as the keynote speaker at the annual Beyond Borders End Child Prostitution and Trafficking Canada Educational Symposium.

Michael Libby (1994) is a managing partner at his firm, where he practises insurance litigation. He has co-authored three legal texts: Sports and Recreation Liability Law in Canada; the Annotated British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act; and Liquor and Host Liability Law in Canada. He has volunteered as the program co-ordinator and faculty member for the British Columbia Inns of Court Program, educating and mentoring 50 junior barristers each year.

Joseph McArthur (1995) is a commercial litigation and arbitration partner. He is chair and director of the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre. He is regarded as one of Canada’s leading arbitration lawyers and acts as an independent arbitrator in respect of complex domestic and international commercial disputes.

Mark Underhill (1996) has a broad civil litigation practice with particular expertise in Aboriginal, administrative and environmental law. He also advises a wide range of public law clients, including the Environmental Appeal Board, the BC Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner. He is active in the legal education and non-profit community and provides pro bono work for the West Coast Environmental Law Association and the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Amy Mortimore (1998) works primarily in civil litigation, criminal and solicitation. She is an active mentor to her firm’s litigation lawyers and a champion of diversity and equity issues, especially in advancing women in the profession. She has a leadership role at the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia (CLEBC) and is a long-time contributor to two chapters in CLEBC’s two estate practice manuals. She co-authored the first litigation textbook in B.C. and has presented at more than 55 conferences.

Stacey Ederza Fox (1999) is a member of the Tahltan Nation who has made profound contributions in the interests of First Nations and Indigenous Peoples to the advancement of the law in B.C. and Canada. She played a significant role in shaping the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and held a lead position in the co-development of the attorney general’s directives on civil litigation in matters involving Indigenous Peoples. She is a member of the board of the B.C. Law Institute.

John Gareth Morley (1999) is senior counsel, constitutional advice in the legal services branch of the Ministry of Attorney General. He has practised as a civil litigator, legislative drafter and constitutional and administrative lawyer. He is president of the B.C. Government Lawyers Association. He is a recognized expert on the liability of governments, co-editing the authoritative text in the field. He is also a devoted community volunteer.

Mark Gervin (2000) is a criminal lawyer, passionate educator and Indigenous ally. He is the current legal services director at the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic at the Peter A. Allard school of law. He was a founding member and vice-president of the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society where he led the legal education component and hosted and created free high-quality legal education for junior defence counsels. He is a long-standing member of the Canadian Bar Association.

Marko Vesely (2000) practises civil and commercial litigation focused on class actions, defamation and media, cross-border disputes and commercial arbitrations. He has helped advance the legal profession through his work on the Law Society Ethics Committee, legal education and mentorship. He has been recognized for his skills in litigation by Best Lawyers in Canada, Chambers Canada, Benchmark Canada and Lexpert. He has lectured at Peter A. Allard school of law, the University of Victoria faculty of law and the University of British Columbia graduate school of journalism. He is also a volunteer mentor at the Canadian Bar Association and the University of Toronto faculty of law.

Li-Jeen Broshko (2002) worked as general counsel and university secretary at Simon Fraser University (SFU) for more than 10 years, where she was responsible for all legal matters involving SFU, including retaining and instructing external legal counsel. The office she led had operational responsibility for the Board of Governors, Human Rights Office, Internal Audit, Office of the Ombudsperson and Archives and Records Management, including freedom of information and privacy. She is also co-editor of the highly regarded textbook, the Handbook of Canadian Higher Education Law, and is a respected leader in the Canadian Association of University Solicitors.

Cristen Gleeson (2002) is a litigator and managing partner, and while her current practice is varied, it is comprised predominantly of family law matters. She is the director and vice-president of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and the founder and chair of the Canadian Bar Association Family Law Section (Fraser Valley). She is involved in the broader community and volunteers with organizations – non-profits and government affiliated.

Peter Lawless (2002) is the deputy supervising counsel to the Legal Services Branch at the Ministry of Attorney General, where he leads a team of lawyers, paralegals and professional staff that conduct plaintiff’s side litigation on behalf of the Province. He leads B.C.’s tobacco and opioid litigation. He has also made significant contributions to sports and sports law, including having served on the boards of the Canadian Invictus Games, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, viaSport, and as the head coach of the B.C. Wheelchair Sports/Athletics Canada.

Sarah Westwood (2002) has been a managing partner and is director’s counsel under the Child, Family and Community Service Act. In this role, she has been an advocate for vulnerable children. She frequently offers presentations on the act to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. As an elected bencher for Prince Rupert County now in her fourth term, she has volunteered countless hours to the Law Society, including serving as a chair, vice-chair or member of several committees.

Louise Jane Kenworthy (2004) is one of the BC Prosecution Service’s (BCPS) leading trial prosecutors and expert in many areas of criminal law. She is a senior adviser to regional Crown counsel and other senior managers of the BCPS. She teaches police, Crown and defence counsel, and offers mentorship to many young lawyers within and outside of the BCPS. She is a frequent instructor at the RCMP Pacific Regional Training Centre, and she teaches at the Canadian Police College Major Crime Investigative Technique Course and at the British Columbia Institute of Technology for the major crime investigators and the forensic nurse examiner courses.

Karen Snowshoe (2004) is a member of the Teetl’it Gwich’in Tribal Council and a passionate advocate for Indigenous issues, the environment and human rights. She was senior counsel for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, for which she built, trained and led a national team of statement-gatherers who conducted trauma-informed interviews across Canada. She was the first Indigenous woman elected as a bencher in B.C., where she served two terms. She worked on redrafting the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights and also on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include Indigenous people. 

Brent Olthuis (2005) is a litigator who has remained engaged in academic work. He edits the “Professional Conduct” chapter of the Canadian Legal Practice looseleaf and is a guest lecturer at University of British Columbia and Thompson Rivers University law schools. He has served as a director of the B.C. Law Institute and is the Law Society’s appointee to the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia Board. He has been named a Lexpert “Rising Star (Leading Lawyers Under 40)” and was elected a fellow of the International Society of Barristers. He has represented Access Pro Bono clients in judicial reviews and appeals, and is a Legal Services Society roster lawyer, conducting numerous criminal appeals.

Katrina Harry (2006) is a child protection lawyer, advocate and leader committed to Indigenous issues, low-income families and access to justice. She worked with Legal Aid to develop a pilot project known as the Parents Legal Centre, assisting in the opening and managing of nine centres throughout the province. She was a director for Battered Women’s Support Services and the Community Legal Assistance Society, and a member of the Law Society of B.C.’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee (TRAC). She was appointed co-chair of TRAC. She has done legal review and contributed to more than a dozen publications, and she wrote and taught the child protection the professional legal training course.

Grace Pastine (2006) worked for 15 years as the litigation director at the BC Civil Liberties Association, where she founded a nationwide legal program for the protection of civil liberties and human rights. The cases she directed included issues of fundamental importance to Canadians: freedom of expression, racial justice, 2SLGBTQ+ rights, police accountability, criminal law reform and prisoners’ rights. In this role, she was also a spokesperson and directed media communications. She has been a regular presenter at numerous symposiums and conferences, and has taught at Legal Research, the University of Victoria’s faculty of law, and the Peter A. Allard school of law. Most recently, she has become the head of a national pro bono program at a Canadian firm.

Micah Rankin (2007) has worked as counsel for the Ministry of Attorney General with the Constitutional-Administrative Law Group, and as Crown counsel with the BC Prosecution Service. He was an assistant and associate professor at Thompson Rivers University’s faculty of law. He has written or contributed to more than two dozen publications. He has acted as pro bono counsel for non-profit organizations such as the BC Civil Liberties Association and has served as a member of the Law Society’s Legal Education Advisory Committee. He has been a member of Access Pro Bono’s board of directors where he serves as vice-chair.

Elin Sigurdson (2007) practises in the area of Aboriginal law and constitutional litigation. She has been counsel on significant and groundbreaking cases about Indigenous governance, Aboriginal rights, equitable compensation, the duty to consult, sex worker rights, prison reform and the law of standing. She regularly lectures at University of British Columbia and as Continuing Legal Education faculty and coached the Wilson (Equality law) and the Kawaskhimon (Aboriginal law) moot teams. She has done impactful pro bono work for BC Civil Liberties Association, West Coast Leaf and Pivot Legal Society.

Zara Suleman (2007) has served as a practice adviser and author for LexisNexis in the areas of family law, family violence, legal practice, assisted reproduction and work-life balance. She is a prolific contributor to the B.C. Continuing Legal Education Society and a volunteer editor for its Family Practice Manual and Annotated Family Practice, as well as a presenter at numerous conferences. She is a leading expert on violence against women and girls and the systemic and institutional barriers by creating safety for vulnerable members of our society and works tirelessly to educate others to bring about change.

Clare Jennings (2008) was president of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. branch, and has served on the board of directors since 2018. She is a leading counsel with the BC Prosecution Services, and leader in creating awareness of and respect for gender and diversity issues in the B.C. legal profession. She has been involved with the “Victoria Law Day” executive for more than a decade, authoring multiple plays demonstrating the trial process to lay community members. Jennings is a recognized criminal justice subject-matter expert and contributor to legal education of lawyers and law students.

Colleen Spier (2008) is a Métis-Cree lawyer who is a recognized leader in justice reform for Indigenous people. She is a trained mediator and was named one of the first Mediate B.C. Indigenous Child Protection mediators. She has held numerous volunteer leadership positions in organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association, Access to Justice B.C. and the B.C. College of Social Workers. She works to ensure all participants in the justice system understand how to work with Indigenous clientele. She was the inaugural director on the B.C. First Nations Justice Council and in 2023 was appointed assistant deputy minister by the attorney general to lead the Province’s Indigenous Justice Secretariat.

Peter Senkpiel (2010) is a leader in trial and appellate counsel in commercial and public law. He has done considerable advocacy work around the mental-health challenges that many lawyers face. He ranked as a leading litigator by Lexpert and was awarded a Benchmark Impact Case Award in 2021. He is the editor of the often-cited Civil Appeal Handbook, a director of the Vancouver International Arbitration Centre, founding co-chair of the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch’s appellate advocacy subsection, a University of British Columbia adjunct professor and a frequent the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia panellist (appeals, constructive trusts, injunctions, etc.).

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.