- Collaborative lawyer
- Hear the Child Interviewer
- Home: Grew up in Saskatchewan, lived in Ontario, moved to the West Coast, and is now based in Victoria.
- Professional Focus: Out-of-court family law problem-solving that supports family and child well-being.
- Approach: Help families work through legal, financial and human aspects of their family law matters in a way that conserves resources and minimizes conflict, rather than wastes precious time, energy and money.
- Legal Background: A depth and breadth of legal expertise as a barrister and solicitor in a boutique family law firm, Canada’s Department of Justice, a large national law firm (Vancouver office), a BC Crown Corporation and an international child rights and development organization based at a university prior to establishing SW Family Law. Her legal experience working in commercial, civil, administrative, indigenous, human/child rights, and family law matters all comes together in work with families.
- Consensual Dispute Resolution Expertise: First mediation training attended in the late 1990’s, Family Law Mediator recognized by the Law Society of BC, and qualified collaborative family lawyer with memberships in Collaborative Family Separation Professionals (Victoria), Collaborative Professionals of Canada and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She has mediated and facilitated in a variety of subject matters, including in multi-disciplinary, and cross-cultural contexts.
- Unique Experience: Over a decade of experience working with leading experts and stakeholders to advance the rights and healthy development of children in Canada and internationally, combining both legal and child development knowledge in work with multi-sector collaborators.
- Improving Family Justice: A long-time advocate for improving the family justice system. She was the lead writer and consultant of the Canadian Bar Association’s Child Rights Toolkit for Lawyers, and a Co-Chair of several Access to Justice for Children’s Conferences. Her research, education and pilot practices in the mid-2000’s led to founding the BC Hear the Child Society and Child Interviewer Roster. More recently she has introduced the low bono/pro bono collaborative law initiative to Victoria through the Collaborative Family Separation Professionals group as co-chair.
- Education: 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 BC in 1996 and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and trainings including the National Judicial Institute’s Family Law Program, Federation of Law Societies Family Law Program, the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, and the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights.
Suzanne respectfully acknowledges the lək̓ʷəŋən Speaking Peoples known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on whose land she lives and works.
“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.”