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Suzanne S. Williams – Lawyer

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Suzanne helps clients advance children’s rights and best interests, structure family agreements, and resolve disputes. She draws on a diverse background acquired over the past two decades in family law as well as child rights and development, Aboriginal, public and commercial law.  Some of her recent work includes:

  • Helping a client with a child-focused family restructuring so parties could cooperatively resolve their differences including pension division, financing two households, and co-parenting effectively over the long haul
  • Drafting a donor fertility Agreement;
  • Defending a comprehensive family Arbitration Award under appeal.

Her professional family law affiliations include membership in the BC Hear the Child Society and Child Interviewer Roster, the Victoria Collaborative Law Group, and Canadian Bar Association Family Law section.  She has in-depth mediation and facilitation training from the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, the Justice Institute of BC, and private providers to supplement her experience.

Prior to joining Brown Henderson Melbye Suzanne worked in her own legal practice, for Canada’s Department of Justice, for a large national law firm, and with an international non-governmental organization based at a university.   Suzanne has advised many clients including individuals, business owners and corporations to resolve legal challenges through mediation and negotiation, draft agreements, and appear before trial and appeal courts.

Suzanne’s background includes strengthening systems so they better support children’s best interests, rights and well being. She has had the privilege of learning from many pioneers in the child rights field, and worked as a member of multi-disciplinary, cross cultural teams in Canada and internationally to address challenges in the context of children’s lived realities.  She has led teams to raise awareness of good practices and facilitate positive change for the European Union in the context of youth criminal justice in the Russian Federation, and to address complex challenges such as online child sexual exploitation in partnership with Microsoft, UNICEF, Plan International, the RCMP, Canadian Government and partners in Brazil and Thailand.

Suzanne has worked in BC to advance children’s rights within the family justice system and improve how adults hear from children and consider their views in decision-making.  Her research, education, training, and pilot practice on hearing the views of children that began in 2003 led to changes in family law as well as establishing the BC Hear the Child Society in 2010 and the BC Child Interviewer Roster in 2012.  She also developed training for legal professionals on children’s participation in family law and chaired Conferences in this area in 2007, 2009 and 2011 for the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, with the 2007 Conference winning an international continuing legal education (ACLEA) award.

More recently Suzanne was the lead consultant and writer for the Canadian Bar Association’s Child Rights Toolkit developed in collaboration with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’s Subcommittee of the National Children’s Law Committee and more than 110 lawyers from across Canada to advance children’s access to Justice.  She also co-chaired with the Honourable Justice Donna J. Martinson QC (retired) Access to Justice for Children Conferences with the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC in 2015 and 2017.  The 2015 Conference won an international award for excellence in continuing legal education programming and the 2017 Conference officially launched the Canadian Bar Association’s Child Rights Toolkit, designed to help people better understand what children’s rights are, their legal status and how to implement them in Canada.

Suzanne received her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1993 where she was awarded the McNeil Sinclair award for outstanding oral advocacy, and her Bachelor of Arts (honours) from the University of Western Ontario before being called to the bar in Ontario in 1995 and then BC in 1996.

Throughout the experience of separation Suzanne was compassionate, professional, thorough and very service oriented. My separation was complex, emotional and involved a child with disabilities; in order to reach an agreement I needed a humanistic yet assertive lawyer with experience in negotiating an agreement that was the very best for my child. Suzanne far exceeded my expectations; I would not hesitate recommending her.

Professional Highlights (Law)

  • Member, Law Society of British Columbia
  • Former Member, Law Society of Upper Canada (1995 – 2013)
  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Member, Victoria Bar Association
  • Program Chair and Presenter, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia
  • Founder and Member,  BC Hear the Child Society and Child Interviewer Roster
  • Guest Lecturer, University of Victoria Faculty of Law
  • Invited Presenter: National Judicial Institute of Canada, Family Law Program; Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Annual Conference; Canadian Federation of Law Societies Family Law Conference; Third World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children; World Congress on Family Law and Child Rights; Native Investment and Trade Association; Pacific and Business Law Institute

Professional Highlights (Child Rights and Development) 

  • Associate, Former Legal and Deputy Director, International Institute for Child Rights and Development
  • Expert and Team Lead, Strengthening Justice Systems, European Union & Russian Federal Children’s Ombudsman
  • Director, Child Protection Partnership, Brazil and Thailand
  • Director, Meaningful Child Participation in Family Justice Processes
  • Invited Expert, International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Researcher and Advisor, Plan International, Because I am a Girl (2010)
  • Witness, Canada’s Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, Canada’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Community Involvement Highlights

  • Board of Directors Member, Organized Response to Child Abuse Society
  • Member, Victoria Chapter Groyourbiz
  • Former Board of Directors Member: James Bay Child Care Society; Centre for Integrated Healing (now Inspire Health), UNICEF BC
  • Founding Director: BC Hear the Child Society; International Institute for Child Rights and Development