Melanie Gaston, President
Originally from Ontario, Melanie obtained her B.A.H at Queen’s University and moved to Calgary to obtain her LL.B from the University of Calgary. Through an international law school exchange, she completed a semester of law school at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. Melanie is now a litigation partner at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP after working as an articling student, associate and becoming a partner at another national firm in Calgary. She specializes in complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on construction and energy disputes and restructuring and insolvency matters. She also advises clients on matters involving insurance law, class actions, product liability and commercial landlord disputes.
In addition to serving on the board for AWL, Melanie is also on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary and Calgary Rotary Clubs Foundation, and is a member of the Calgary Rotary Club. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, including her husband and 3 young daughters.
Tami Prince, Vice President
Tamara Prince is a partner in the Litigation Group at Cassels Brock and Blackwell LLP. Tami’s practice focuses on complex corporate/commercial litigation, including matters involving energy and environmental law, construction, commercial leasing, class action defence, competition, pensions, tax, securities, employment defence, and franchise disputes. Over the course of her career, Tami has represented a wide range of corporate clients, including those involved in the global energy sector, petrochemicals, commercial property, telecommunications, mining, global transportation, manufacturing, franchising, and construction.
Tami was first called to the bar in Saskatchewan in 2003 where she began her career as an associate at a prominent Saskatchewan firm before moving to Alberta in 2006 where she spent 13 years at a reputable national law firm. Just prior to joining Cassels, Tami spent nearly two years working as part of the in-house legal team for an international oil and gas company, where she worked with outside counsel on numerous litigation and insolvency matters and served as a trusted business advisor, providing internal advice on diverse legal issues to various business groups within the company.
In addition to being a member of the AWL Board and serving as Vice President, Tami is the current Chair of the Alberta Regional Advisory Committee for The Advocates’ Society.
Emily Paplawski, Secretary
Kara Davis, Treasurer
Kara Davis is an associate at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and practices in the area of restructuring & insolvency. She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 2017 and the New York bar in 2020. Kara joined the AWL Board in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and a J.D. from the University of Calgary.
Outside of the office and volunteer work, Kara enjoys golfing, travelling, and playing soccer.
Crystle Hug, Membership Chair
Rani Wong, Past President
Rani Wong has traveled and lived across Canada and around the world, returning to her native Alberta in 2005 to raise her 3 children. Born and raised in Edmonton, she earned her B.A. (Honours) in Economics at Queen’s University and her joint LL.B. and M.B.A. from the University of British Columbia. Rani practiced corporate and commercial law with a focus on financial services with Canada’s top national law firms, including Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and Calgary. She also practiced with the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in their Singapore office, acting for multinational corporations and financial institutions throughout Asia. Rani is now focused on bringing her wealth of experience and knowledge to her own family law practice, in association with Calgary Family Law Associates.
Rani has a passion for adventure, having summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, kayaked the Queen Charlotte Islands, camped in the wilds of Alaska and Mongolia, snorkeled with sharks in the Galapagos Islands and Sulawesi, Indonesia, and climbed the cliffs of southern Thailand and France, among many other adventures. Closer to home, Rani enjoys alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and rock climbing with her family and friends. She is also an avid nature and travel photographer.
Melissa Burkett, Director
Melissa is a litigator with Alberta Justice, Legal Services Division, where she represents and advises the Crown, government departments and boards in litigation, administrative and regulatory proceedings. Originally from Winnipeg, Melissa earned her B.A. (Adv.) in Political Studies from the University of Manitoba, her LL.B. from Université de Moncton, and her LL.M. from New York University. Melissa is called to the Bars of Alberta and Manitoba.
Prior to joining Alberta Justice, Melissa articled and practised medical malpractice defence with a large regional firm in Winnipeg, and commercial litigation with a national firm in Calgary. She also previously interned in with the International Arbitration group in the Paris office of a large international firm.
In addition to serving on the AWL Board as Communications Chair, Melissa is a member of the Advocates’ Society Alberta Advisory Committee and CBA (Alberta). She volunteers with Calgary Legal Guidance, is a Sessional Instructor (Civil Procedure) at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, and coaches the UofC Laskin Moot team. When not working or volunteering, Melissa enjoys travelling, craft beer, learning new languages, and supporting Liverpool FC (preferably all at the same time).
Sarah Coderre, Director
Sarah obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Calgary in 2011. She articled at a national law firm in Calgary, Alberta, and then continued on as an associate for a year before relocating to Edmonton to work in insurance defense litigation. In 2015, Sarah began to develop her practice in employment and labour law, and in February 2021 she created Bow River Law LLP, a labour, employment, and human rights law boutique firm in Calgary, Alberta with her law partner, Joel Fairbrother.
Sarah’s work involves primarily representing individual employees in claims against their current and former employers, and she has advocated for clients at the Provincial Court of Alberta, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, and many other administrative bodies. Sarah is very involved in the legal profession outside her practice, and she currently gives back as a Section Executive Member and as a Director on the Canadian Bar Association Alberta Branch Board of Directors, as the Seminars Committee Co-Chair and Board Member for the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association, in the role of Succession Advisor and Board Member for the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers – Alberta Chapter, as a co-founder and Board Member with LEAD Alberta, and she was elected to the Association of Women Lawyers in 2021.
Outside of her law practice and new business, Sarah and her husband are busy raising their two young children.
Elsy Gagne, Director
Originally from Québec, Elsy is proud of her French Québec roots. Elsy lived across Canada. She obtained a M.Sc. at the University of Montreal and then moved to Calgary to complete her Ph.D. in sociology at University of Calgary. Through her active role with the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women as Director and then President, she completed her LLB from Ottawa University and an LLM from the University of Manitoba.
Before becoming in-house counsel and then general counsel, Elsy practiced complex commercial and construction litigation, and judicial foreclosure for many years. Elsy’s knowledge in law has been used to benefit sophisticated clients in various industries and sectors, including financial, private and regulatory services. In addition, she appeared in several levels of courts in various jurisdictions.
In addition to serving on the board for AWL, Elsy is also on the board of directors of the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Board, the Association des juristes en langue française de l’Alberta and the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta.
Outside the office and volunteer work, Elsy enjoys reading and travelling around the world to discover new ways of being. In her spare time, she also enjoys being with her family and supports her elderly mother.
Anna Galanter, Director
Alison Gray, Director
Originally from Winnipeg, Alison obtained her B.A. at the University of Manitoba, and moved to Montreal to attend law school at McGill University, where she obtained her LL.B. and B.C.L. degrees. After articling at the Attorney General of Ontario, Alison completed a 6 month internship at the University of the Western Cape in Capetown, South Africa. Upon return to Canada, Alison completed her LL.M. at the University of Toronto. Alison is currently a partner in the Advocacy Department at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP, where she specializes in complex commercial litigation, including energy and fraud disputes. In addition to serving on the Board of AWL, Alison is a member of the Board of Calgary Legal Guidance, and is a member of the Legal Program Committee of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and has undertaken pro bono mandates on their behalf.
Jennie Han, Director
Jennie joined the AWL Board of Directors in 2019 and is a litigation associate at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer. She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 2019 and to the New York bar in 2014. Originally from California, Jennie holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.
In addition to serving on the AWL Board of Directors, Jennie volunteers with Calgary Legal Guidance and with Pro Bono Law Alberta as Civil Claims Duty Counsel.
Lan X. T. Nguyen, Director
Lan is legal counsel at Pembina Pipeline Corporation. Prior to this role, Lan worked as an associate at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she maintained a general corporate commercial litigation and dispute resolution practice.
Lan received her Bachelor of Commerce degree (with Distinction) from the University of Calgary and her Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria. She was admitted to the Alberta bar in 2018. Prior to law school, Lan worked in the human resources department of a multinational energy company.
In addition to serving on the AWL Board, Lan volunteers with Pro Bono Law Alberta through the Civil Claims Duty Counsel Project, which provides pro bono legal advice for unrepresented litigants in the Alberta civil courts. In her spare time, Lan enjoys cooking cultural dishes, exploring new hiking trails, yoga, and attempting to take her pug on long walks.
Sophie Mansfield, Director
Lillian Pan, Q.C., Director
Kourtney Pratt, Director
Kourtnet is an associate at Stikeman Elliott LLP, where she has worked since 2017. She maintains a litigation practice with an emphasis on commercial and business litigation. She was admitted to the Alberta and New York Bars in 2018. She holds a J.D. from the University of Windsor and a J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy. Prior to obtaining her law degrees, she received a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Dance from the University of Calgary.
In addition to serving on the AWL Board, Kourtney serves as Secretary for the Board of Directors of Dancers’ Studio West, a dance service organization supporting dance artists in Alberta. Kourtney also volunteers with Calgary Legal Guidance and with Pro Bono Law Alberta through the Civil Claims Duty Counsel project.
In her spare time, Kourtney enjoys travelling, yoga, trying new restaurants, and of course dancing.
Sadaf Raja, Director
Wilma Shim, Director
Wilma is a Barrister and Solicitor with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Originally from Edmonton, she moved to Calgary in 2003 after being awarded the Chancellor Club Scholarship from the University of Calgary. She holds two degrees from the University of Calgary- B.Sc (2007) and J.D. (2010). In 2010, she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership and was inducted into The Order of the University of Calgary.
Wilma summered and articled with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Following her Articles, Wilma worked as a Crown Prosecutor before accepting a position in the Civil Litigation Department with Alberta Justice. Currently, Wilma is a Barrister and Solicitor with the Social Enhancement Legal Team.
In 2007, Wilma represented Canada at the World Junior Powerlifting Championships in LaGarde, France and won Bronze in the deadlift competition. She has coached powerlifting with Special Olympics Calgary since 2007. She is the past-Chair of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Alberta and is a Board member of the University of Calgary Alumni Association. Wilma founded the Mothers in the Law group within the AWL in 2017. She is part of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 Class of 2015.
Staci Tannahill Smith, Director