Exceptional lawyers recognized with Queen's counsel designation


On Wednesday, December, 20 the government of British Columbia announced the lawyers who have been appointed to Queen's counsel this year.

Among the honourees is Tamara Levy, co-founder of the UBC Innocence Project at the Allard School of Law. 

Tamara Miriam Levy graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1996 and has since built a career focusing on wrongful convictions. In 2007, she co-founded UBC’s Innocence Project, where she has served as director for nearly a decade. In 2015, she co-founded the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society, which pursues law reform and advocacy work related to criminal defence. Levy has presented extensively on the topic of wrongful convictions, including conferences and sessions presented by the National Judicial Institute, Simon Fraser University, Crown counsel and others. She has also chaired and spoken at the Trial Lawyers Association of BC (TLABC) annual criminal law conference.

Eleven Allard Schoo of Law alumni were also included, listed below in alphabetical order.

Karima Andani, LLB ‘93
Karima Andani was called to the B.C. bar in 1994. She worked briefly in private practice before joining the Criminal Justice Branch, now called the BC Prosecution Service. As a Crown counsel, Andani has prosecuted at all levels of courts in B.C. Her cases have involved high-profile terrorism and gang violence trials. She is regularly asked to present on and teach trial advocacy with the CLES, the LSBC and other organizations. Andani also mentors and coaches other young lawyers through her involvement in regional and national advocacy competitions.

Frances Joan Connell, LLB ‘79
Frances Joan Connell has practiced law since graduating with distinction from the University of British Columbia (UBC) faculty of law in 1979. She has served as the chief legal advisor for the mayor of Vancouver, council, the city manager and senior city staff for 21 years. Connell is chief legal advisor to city-related agencies, such as the Vancouver Police Board, the Vancouver Economic Commission and the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. Connell’s work as a lawyer and leader has contributed to improvements in environmental and community sustainability in Vancouver.

Peter Maurice German, LLM ‘90
Peter Maurice German is a lawyer, author and academic. He is currently president and acting executive director of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform, a United Nations Criminal Justice Programme Network Institute with offices at UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law. German is a former deputy commissioner of both the RCMP and Correctional Service Canada and the author of Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering, a textbook on anti-money laundering law. German was recently appointed by the Attorney General to lead an independent review into alleged money laundering in B.C. casinos.

Jamie Fraser Maclaren, LLB ‘03
Jamie Fraser Maclaren was called to the B.C. bar in 2004 and has been the sole practitioner at Maclaren Law Office since 2005. He is the founding executive director of the Access Pro Bono Society of B.C. MacLaren has been an elected bencher with LSBC since 2013 and was the recipient of the Harry Rankin QC Pro Bono Award that same year. He is currently president of the Allard Law Students Legal Advice Program, co-chair of the Family Justice Pathfinder Project and the Justicia Project. He is a founding member of Pro Bono Canada and the Access to Justice B.C. Committee.

Margaret Heather Mason, LLB ‘85
Margaret Heather Mason is a charity and non-profit organization lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience advising donors, charities and other tax-exempt organizations and their boards. She has guided legislative policy through her participation on the B.C. Law Institute (BCLI), the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. A partner with Norton Rose Fulbright, Mason has received numerous awards of distinction from Chambers Canada and Best Lawyers in Canada.

Michael Johnny McDonald, LLB ‘88
Michael Johnny McDonald graduated from the UBC faculty of law in 1988. A member of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, he has built a career representing Indigenous clients. In addition to founding his own firm, he has mentored many associates, including several prominent Indigenous lawyers. McDonald has supported numerous First Nation clients in negotiations with many of Canada’s largest resource and lands sector companies and through innovative commercial agreements. He has been an adjunct and visiting professor at the Native Education Centre and UBC’s faculty of law and Sauder School of Business

Christopher Andrew McPherson, LLB ‘86
Christopher Andrew McPherson is with the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) and has considerable experience with high-profile homicide cases. He is an elected bencher with the LSBC and has leadership experience from roles with the New Westminster Bar Association, the BC Crown Counsel Association, the International Association of Prosecutors, and the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law. McPherson has presented papers and lectured on many legal topics, including ethics, confidentiality and practice management.

Monique Carmel Pongracic-Speier, LLB ‘01
Monique Carmel Pongracic-Speier was called to the B.C. bar in 2002 and is a partner with Ethos Law Group LLP. In addition to her work on public law cases, Pongracic-Speier continues to represent injured workers and has served as volunteer and pro bono counsel in several groundbreaking public law cases that raised systemic issues of access and equality. She has chaired numerous panels and conferences on emerging topics in international law and contributes a chapter on international law to the Annual Review of Law and Practice.

Calvin Stewart Sandborn, LLB ‘80
Calvin Stewart Sandborn has practiced environmental law for more than 25 years and served as legal director of the Environmental Law Centre Clinic at the University of Victoria (UVic) since 2003. With extensive experience in environmental litigation, he has published numerous books, articles and papers on environmental law reform. His efforts have influenced wetlands protection, recycling laws, forestry and mining regulations and pollution prevention in waste management law. He has mentored more than 300 law students and acted as principal to more than 20 articled students.

Ardith Alison Walkem, LLB ’95 LLM ‘05
Ardith Alison Walkem is a graduate of the UBC Faculty of Law and has been practicing law since 1996. She has owned and operated her firm Walkem and Associates for the past 18 years. A member of the Nilka’pamux Nation, she has provided legal supports to Indigenous families and communities throughout her career. She has worked to assist First Nations on several significant Aboriginal title and rights cases. Walkem is a member of the CLES task force mandated to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report, and she serves as a board member of the Justice Education Society.

Michael Fitzwilliam Welsh, LLB ‘80
Michael Fitzwilliam Welsh graduated from UBC’s law school in 1980 and clerked with the B.C. Supreme Court the following year. Over the past 36 years, Welsh served as lead counsel in trials and appeals at all levels of court in complex criminal, civil and family matters. Since 1983, he has maintained a litigation and mediation practice and has been an active leader in many legal and community capacities, including roles as the past president of the Canadian Bar Association B.C. Branch (CBABC) and immediate past president of the British Columbia Arbitration & Mediation Institute (BCAMI). He is a regular contributor to continuing legal education and served as a faculty member in continuing legal educational conferences and seminars.