Navigating Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: The Power to Create Boundaries

  • 24 Mar 2021
  • 5:30 PM - 6:45 PM
  • Zoom

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Please note that registration is now required for this event.

Why is saying “no” just as important as saying “yes”? FACL BC understands that systemic issues and power imbalances make it challenging to set boundaries and say “no” during your legal career. Learn to be your own advocate from our panel speakers, who will share how they have developed effective strategies to advocate for themselves at every stage of their legal journey. Our panelists range from young associates to senior lawyers in equity seeking groups who will share their experiences balancing their legal career with their life outside of work, and their tips and tricks to create healthy and sustainable boundaries in their work life.


  • Abigail Cheung
  • Khalil Jessa
  • Michelle Stanford Q.C.
  • Patricia M. Barkaskas
  • Adrienne Smith 
  • Renzo Caron


Abigail Cheung (McCarthy Tétrault)

Abigail is passionate about working to make the legal profession more inclusive, diverse and equitable. Abigail holds a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a BA in Political Science and Ethnicity, Race and Migration from Yale University. After completing law school, Abigail clerked for six justices at the BC Supreme Court. She was called to the BC bar in 2018. She practices labour and employment law. Abigail is honoured to serve as the President of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (BC) Society. Outside of work, Abigail likes to explore the best places for long COVID walks, listen to podcasts, and tinker with new recipes.

Khalil Jessa (Hakemi & Ridgedale)

Khalil is a litigation associate at Hakemi & Ridgedale in Vancouver. He is currently one of FACL BC's Directors-at-Large and a Co-Chair of FACL BC's Advocacy Committee. Prior to starting his legal career, Khalil was an entrepreneur with a small business in app development and worked on Parliament Hill as a legislative assistant for a BC Senator. He completed his undergrad in Montreal at McGill University in Middle Eastern studies and Political Science, with a minor in International Development Studies.

Michelle Stanford Q.C. (Stanford Law Office)

Michelle Stanford was called to the Bar in 1993 following a nursing career, including Head Nurse at Vancouver General Hospital. She began her law practice in civil litigation in Vancouver and now has practiced as a sole practitioner in Kamloops over the last 27 years, with a focus on criminal defence and administrative law under the B.C. Review Board and the Mental Health Act. Michelle has guest lectured at Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law, School of Nursing and the Respiratory Tech program. She has served as President of the Kamloops Bar Association and volunteered for a number of legal organizations including Access Pro Bono, TLABC Legal Action Committee, Association of Legal Aid Lawyers, Criminal Defence Advocacy Society and the CBA Women Lawyers Forum. Locally, Michelle has the privilege of being a founding committee member and Chair for the Kamloops Inns of Court. Her community service includes sitting as a member of the Thompson Rivers University Board of Governors, past President of Kamloops Art Gallery and past Trustee on the Boards of Regional Health in Kamloops and Western Canada Theatre Company. Michelle was elected Bencher of the Law Society of B.C., Kamloops District and Yale County in 2016, appointed Queens Council in 2018 and appointed Judge in the Provincial Court of British Columbia on March 12, 2021. She will be sitting in Williams Lake, B.C., commencing May 2021.

Patricia M. Barkaskas (Peter A. Allard School of Law)

Patricia M. Barkaskas is Métis from Alberta. Her research focuses on the intersection of justice and law, including access to justice, clinical legal education, and decolonizing and Indigenizing law. She is particularly interested in examining the value of Indigenous pedagogies in experiential learning, clinical legal education, and skills-based legal training, and disrupting the normative violence of colonial legal education.

Professor Barkaskas is the Academic Director of the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, which is located in the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Professor Barkaskas is also faculty lead for the law school’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Certificate, launched in September 2018. The ICCC is an eight-month non-credit certificate course that assists students in developing better understandings of colonial assumptions, beliefs, and biases that form the foundation of the Canadian legal system, the history of colonial practices and policies in Canada, Indigenous perspectives on law, and what decolonization means for the practice of law. 

Adrienne Smith (Adrienne Smith Law)

Adrienne Smith is a transgender human rights activist and drug policy lawyer. They settled a BC Supreme Court case which guaranteed access to opiate replacement therapy for prisoners in BC jails. Adrienne has also appeared at the BC Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, where they argued about the deleterious effects of mandatory minimum sentences for women, Indigenous people, and drug users. As a trade union activist, Adrienne advocates for transgender inclusion in our unions and workplaces. Adrienne also volunteers at the Catherine White Holman Wellness Clinic, where they give free legal advice and notarize name change documents for trans people.

Renzo Caron (BC First Nations Justice Council)

Renzo is a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. He was called to the BC Bar in 1996 and the Alberta Bar in 2002. Prior to law, Renzo studied social work and worked as a financial assistance worker with the Province of BC.

His background includes senior positions with Indigenous organizations at the Band and Tribal Council levels and with the Assembly of First Nations’ national office and Alberta regional office. As VP of a new division of Legal Aid BC, Renzo was responsible for Indigenous services and initiatives including the successful expansion of seven new Parents Legal Centres in BC.

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