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: 2016/17 Board Remuneration Disclosure Statement.

Our board members

Meet the LSS board:

Celeste Haldane

Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Chair, Executive Committee

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.

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

Vice-Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Member, Executive Committee
Member, Finance Committee

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.

Linda Thomas

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

Linda is of Cree-Norwegian ancestry and a member of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (formerly Kamloops Band) through marriage. The TteS community has been her home for over 30 years. Linda has been a lawyer for 15 years and practices in the area of child protection and family law in Kamloops, Merritt and Lillooet. She is the executive director of the Secwépemc Child and Family Services delegated child welfare agency, which serves seven Secwépemc communities and the Kamloops urban Aboriginal community.

Linda’s past experience practicing in criminal and prison law, and her involvement in social justice issues, led her to establish the Cknúcwentn First Nations Court in Kamloops, a provincial sentencing court for Aboriginal people.

Linda is the Chair of the Aboriginal Justice Council, a multi-agency committee that she established to serve as an advisory to the First Nations Court. In 2015, she was appointed to the Minister’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women, which advises the BC government. She is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) of BC’s Criminal Law section, Women’s Lawyers Forum and Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, and a past board member of the BC Courthouse Libraries Society.

In 2014, Linda received the CBA-BC’s Aboriginal Lawyers Forum Special Contribution Award, which recognized her leadership in establishing the First Nations Court in Kamloops and her commitment to improving relationships between Aboriginal people and the legal system. Linda is also the proud recipient of the 2015 Kamloops YMCA Peace Award.

Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA

Chair, Finance Committee
Member, Executive Committee

Karen Christiansen, CA, is a partner in MNP’s Kelowna office. For almost 20 years, Karen has delivered a full range of business advisory and assurance solutions to help her clients achieve their goals. A key member of MNP’s Assurance team, Karen serves a diverse group of clients, including business owners, real estate developers, and professionals.

Karen earned her Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 1992 after receiving a BA in Economics from the University of British Columbia in 1989. She is a member of both the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia (ICABC).

Karen is currently chair of the ICABC’s Member Recognition Committee and chair of the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC’s (CPABC) Search Committee. Previously she served as president of the ICABC, co-chair of the CPABC’s Transitional Steering Committee, and chair of the Western First Officers. In 2012, she was honoured with a fellowship from ICABC and in the same year completed the Institute of Corporate Directors Governance Essentials for directors of not-for-profit organizations. In 2002, she was awarded the Early Achievement award by the ICABC for her contributions to the profession and outstanding accomplishments.

Dinyar Marzban, QC

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

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.

Puneet P.K. Sandhar

Member, Finance Committee
Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

Within ten years of her arrival in Canada, Puneet has firmly established herself both in her career and her community. Puneet is a partner with the law firm of Sanghera Sandhar Law Group in Surrey. She holds a BA (Hons) and an LLB from Guru Nanak Dev University in India, and was called to the BC bar in 2006. Prior to coming to Canada, she practised law in India for several years and is still an active member with Punjab and Haryana Bar Association.

Puneet has represented her clients on complex commercial and residential real estate transactions, business incorporations, leases, wills and estates, and representation agreements. She has also conducted a variety of immigration appeals.

Apart from serving on the Board of Variance with the City of Surrey, she is an active member/director with the Rotary Club of Surrey-Newton, South Asian Business Association of BC, Mannkind Charitable Society, Panjab Digital Library, Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society and Surrey Board of Trade. She has also conducted interviews and seminars through local media to educate and create awareness around various legal issues and fundamental rights.

Puneet was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her community volunteer work. She is married and has two young children. Her hobbies include reading, cooking, interior decoration, and travelling.

Jean P. Whittow, QC

Chair, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

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.

Phil Riddell

Member, Finance Committee
Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

Philip Riddell was called to the bar in 1989 and currently practises criminal defence as a sole practitioner in Port Coquitlam. Philip is a Law Society of BC Bencher and member of that organization’s Discipline Committee, Lawyer Education Advisory Committee and Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee. He has served as a Canadian Bar Association Provincial Council member for Westminster County and as President of the New Westminster Bar Association. Philip presents at a number of professional programs with the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and the Professional Legal Training Course. He was the board solicitor for Kerrisdale Community Centre Society from 2004 to 2012.

Raymond D. Phillips, QC

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

Raymond has been practicing law for 23 years, representing and advising Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, communities, businesses, and organizations from his offices in Lytton and Kamloops, British Columbia. During his years of practice, Raymond worked as criminal defense counsel, specializing in defending First Nations and members asserting, defending and practicing their inherent rights and title. He is currently duty counsel for the First Nations Court in Kamloops and the Nicola Valley Indigenous Court in Merritt, BC.

He received his law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1993, was called to the BC Bar in 1994, and articled with the Department of Justice in Vancouver.

Raymond opened his own law firm in 2002 with an office in Lytton. From 2005 to 2011, the St’át’imc Nation Chiefs Council retained Raymond as a member of its legal team to negotiate and settle long outstanding grievances against BC Hydro and its predecessors arising from hydro development within the St’át’imc Territory. Today, this agreement represents one of the largest non-treaty settlements in the history of the province.

From 2009 to 2013, Raymond was a member of a legal team retained by the Nlaka’pamux communities to negotiate and settle claims against the Highland Valley Copper Mine. He is now one of three community trustees managing the Nlaka’pamux Legacy Trust.

Raymond joined the Canadian Bar Association’s Justice Reform Committee in 2013, providing a response to the BC government’s “Green Paper” with an attempt to create “efficiencies” in the justice system, and served on the Law Society of BC’s Access to Justice Committee in 2015 and 2016. Since 1992, Raymond has served as director and chairperson on the Nzenmen Child and Family Development Centre in Lytton.

In his spare time, Raymond enjoys ranching, hunting, fishing, riding horses, playing fastball, basketball, soccer and coaching youth basketball.