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: 2015/16 Board Remuneration Disclosure Statement.

Our board members

Meet the LSS board:

Suzette Narbonne

Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Chair, Executive Committee

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Suzette Narbonne is a sole practitioner at Narbonne Law Office in Sechelt where her practice focuses on criminal litigation, family law, and human rights representation. Before moving to BC in 1996, Suzette worked as a staff lawyer for Legal Aid Manitoba in The Pas, Manitoba.

Suzette has committed herself to access to justice issues throughout her career — setting up free legal advice clinics in numerous small northern communities in Manitoba in her early days, and since her move to BC, providing pro bono service, training for the not-for-profit sector, and mentorship advice. She currently acts as the supervising lawyer for a poverty law advocate in Prince Rupert. She has served as a Bencher for the Law Society of British Columbia, as a Governor of the Board of the Law Foundation of BC, and as a member of the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal. In 2012, she was retained as co-counsel for the Aboriginal Interest at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Suzette is currently a member of the Provincial Council of the Canadian Bar Association, BC. Since graduating with a law degree from the University of Ottawa in 1988, Suzette has been dedicated to legal aid and brings that passion and experience to the LSS Board.

Alison MacPhail

Vice-Chair, LSS Board of Directors
Chair, Stakeholder Engagement Committe
Member, Executive Committee

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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.

Dean A. Crawford, QC

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

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Dean is a partner with Coutts Pulver Crawford LLP, one of BC’s leading labour and employment boutique law firms. His practice includes employment litigation, Labour Relations Board proceedings, grievance arbitration, human rights, and workers’ compensation.

Dean earned a law degree from the University of Victoria in 1994 and a BA in History (First-Class Honours) from the University of British Columbia in 1991. He is a former president of the Canadian Bar Association’s BC branch (CBABC) and member of its executive committee. Dean has also been a member of or chaired CBABC committees concerning legal aid, government relations, audit, solicitors’ practice issues, legislation, and law reform.

Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA

Chair, Finance Committee
Member, Executive Committee

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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.

Celeste Haldane

Member, Stakeholder Engagement Committee

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Celeste is a practising lawyer and is Acting Chief Commissioner with the BC Treaty Commission. She holds a LLM in Constitutional Law from Osgoode Hall (York University), and a LLB and BA in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia (UBC). In September she started her PhD at UBC. Celeste serves on UBC’s Board of Governors, and is an active member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Indigenous Bar Association. Celeste is a member of the Sparrow family from Musqueam First Nation and is Tsimshian through Metlakatla. She is active in her community and was appointed by the Musqueam Chief and Council to serve on two committees: Intergovernmental Affairs and Lands, Capital & Housing. Celeste and her husband have three children and one grandson.

Dinyar Marzban, QC

Member, Finance Committee

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Dinyar Marzban is a senior partner with Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP. He practices in the areas of family law, civil litigation, 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 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. He has also written for many legal publications.

Puneet P.K. Sandhar

Member, Executive Committee
Member, Finance Committee

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Within ten years of her arrival in Canada, Puneet has firmly established herself both in her career and her community. Puneet resides in Surrey and 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.

She is an active community participant and is a member of various organizations. Presently, apart from serving on the Board of Variance with the City of Surrey, she is an active member/director with the Surrey Board of Trade, Rotary Club of Surrey-Newton, Association of South Asian Professionals of BC, and South Asian Business Association of BC. She has also conducted interviews and seminars through local media to educate and create awareness around various legal issues and fundamental rights.

Puneet is married and has two young children. Her hobbies include reading, cooking, interior decoration, and travelling.

Jean P. Whittow, QC

Member, Finance Committee

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Jean is a lawyer in private practice with a focus 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 and was co-chair of the Continuing Legal Education Society’s “Self-Regulating Organizations” course from 2003 to 2011. Jean received her law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1983 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2011.