Legal Aid BC's board of directors appoints a chief executive officer (CEO) to administer the organization's business. We are managed by an Executive Management Committee (EMC) made up of the CEO and four vice presidents.
Chief Executive Officer
The chief executive officer (CEO) leads the Executive Management Committee, which includes vice presidents of the four divisions.
Mark Benton, QC
Mark has been a lawyer since 1980, and has served as the CEO of Legal Aid BC (Legal Services Society) since 2002. He holds a B.A. from the University of British Columbia, an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School, and an LL.M. from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Law. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2008.
His legal experience includes small office practice, legal aid work, appellate advocacy, and four years as an adjunct professor at the UBC Faculty of Law. He is past-chair of the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada, is a Canadian Forum for Civil Justice board member, and is an active participant on a number of prominent government and non-government collaborations addressing justice issues of importance to Canadians, including the steering committee of the Action Committee on Civil and Family Justice and the Reinventing Criminal Justice Forum. Mark has served as an advisor to governments and NGOs on the development of legal aid programs in the Caribbean, East Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia’s Pacific region. He has an active interest in making justice systems more effective in responding to people’s needs.
He is regularly invited to speak on topics related to legal aid, not-for-profit governance, and justice innovation. Mark has been recognized in the BC legislature as “a passionate advocate for access to justice for the economically disadvantaged in British Columbia, and he brings along with that passion great creativity in the search for solutions for how to make a difference in people's lives.”
The vice presidents of our four divisions sit on the Executive Management Committee and report to the chief executive officer.
Strategic Planning, Policy, and Human Resources
Manages our human resources, reporting, policy and planning issues
Departments: Human Resources and Organizational Development; Strategic Planning and Policy; Learning & Development
Harold Clark, CPHR
Harold has been with Legal Aid BC (Legal Services Society) since 1998, when he joined as manager, Human Resources (HR). He was promoted to director of HR in 2000 and became director of Field Operations and HR in 2002. His position changed to director, Strategic Planning, Policy, and Human Resources with the implementation of Redesign 2005. Harold came to the organization with extensive experience in the HR field, including senior personnel officer for the Greater Vancouver Regional District and City of Burnaby, and executive director for the Life Saving Society Canada (BC & Yukon Division). He holds a BA with a double major in Business Administration (Personnel Management focus) and Criminology, and is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR).
Harold is affectionately known as the "fun guy" in recognition of his leadership role in — and insistence on — bringing fun into the workplace. Harold was instrumental in developing the organization's Human Resources Strategic Plan and bringing employee wellness, recognition and succession management programs to the fore. He also developed and introduced the performance management system for staff. In addition to sitting on the Executive Management Committee, Harold chairs the Operations, Planning & Policy Committee and is the Liaison Designate to the Ministry of Attorney General and Law Foundation.
Public Legal Information and Applications
Manages our application and legal information services, community outreach and digital delivery
Departments: Community and Publishing Services; Intake and Referral Services; Digital Delivery
Sherry joined Legal Aid BC (Legal Services Society) as a staff lawyer in the Vancouver Family Clinic in 2000, before going on to implement family duty counsel services across BC. She became the manager accountable for intake and regional centres before being appointed director (now vice president), in 2009. Sherry’s accountabilities in this role include intake and public legal education, community engagement and information services. They expanded to include Indigenous Services until June 2018, when that department became a division. During that time, Sherry oversaw the introduction of Gladue reports, training and Elders support for First Nations courts.
In July 2018, Sherry assumed responsibility for the digital delivery of legal aid. As vice president, she has seen an increasing shift in online use by our clients and ensured that the organization responded with online resources to meet their needs, including the launch of MyLawBC in 2016. This internationally recognized, interactive site customizes legal information and provides a platform for dispute resolution.
Sherry was previously in private practice in Saskatchewan and then BC, gaining experience in civil and criminal matters in Provincial, Supreme and appellate courts.
Sherry is passionate about access to justice and is an advisory board member for Pro Bono Students Canada and the National Self-Represented Litigant Project. Sherry is frequently asked to speak on technology and access to justice.
Legal Advice and Representation
Manages our referral and advice services, tariff accounts, and case management and operations
Departments: Criminal, Immigration, and Appeals; Family Law Services; Lawyer Services
Heidi stepped away from a thriving civil litigation practice in 1994 to take a position as a policy lawyer at Legal Aid BC (Legal Services Society). She wanted to effect change in the justice system by ensuring the limited resources available for legal aid were utilized with the user of the system in mind. During her first three months with the organization, Heidi worked with a small team to re-invent the service delivery model by introducing a case-managed approach to the allocation of family resources. The Family Case Management Program became the national and international prototype for managing complex cases funded by legal aid providers.
From 2002 through to 2005, Heidi played a key role in the development of the organization's self-help Family Law website, the design and deployment of the Family Duty Counsel Program, the introduction of the Supreme Court Self-Help Centre (the first of its kind in Canada), the delivery of advice via a telephone hotline, and use of legal information outreach workers to assist pro se litigants. In 2003, Heidi was appointed to the Family Law Working Group for Justice Reform Task Force. The culminating report set the stage for the creation of the Justice Access Centre (a project Heidi co-designed and implemented with the executive director of the government's Family Justice Branch), the development of the expanded family advice pilot project, and the framework for the Family Law Act.
In the mid 2000s, Heidi initiated the first of a series of evaluations intended to measure the outcome of these innovations from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Developing, implementing and then measuring the benefits of legal aid services became the key methodology for securing ongoing funding for our growing spectrum of information and advice services.
Prior to her appointment as the director, Legal Advice and Representation in 2009, she was the director of Public Legal Information and Applications from 2005 to 2008. In addition to her work as the vice president of Legal Aid BC's Legal Advice and Representation Services Division, Heidi is also the project lead on the Justice Innovation Transformation Initiatives.
Finance and Corporate Services
Manages our finance, information technology, facilities, administrative, and audit functions
Departments: Audit and Investigation; Finance and Administration; Information Technology
Chris joined Legal Aid BC (Legal Services Society) in April 2018 after several years of running his own consulting company that provides financial and governance advice to profit and not-for-profit businesses around BC.
Prior to that, he held senior financial positions at a complex-care hospital and hospice in the Lower Mainland and at an organization that oversees funding for sustainable development projects in First Nations communities.
Earlier in his career, Chris stepped away from leadership roles in several of Canada’s largest, publicly held technology firms to take positions in the not-for profit-sector. He wanted to contribute to change in the lives of marginalized peoples by assisting organizations to develop enduring financial efficiencies and governance practices.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, a Chartered Professional Accountant designation, and a Chartered Director designation from McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada.
Chris is a strong believer in serving marginalized communities and is the past chair of the MPA Society, which provides support to people with mental illness.
As vice president, Finance and Corporate Services, Chris is responsible for leading the organization’s financial operations including transactions, central support services and audit and information systems.