Who We Are

Board Members

Catherine D.A. Watson Coles, QC, President

Ms. Watson was appointed to the Commission by Order in Council in February 2015. She is a Partner in McInnes Cooper’s Halifax office and leader of the firm’s regional estates and trusts service group. She is a regular speaker on the subjects of estate trust and tax planning to various professional organizations and the public, and a frequent author of articles on these subjects in various newspapers and newsletters. She has been an instructor at the Ontario Bar Admissions course in the area of estate planning. Ms. Watson has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada and is listed in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. She is the Past President and a current member of the Halifax Estate Planning Council and is a member of the Society of Trust and Estates Practitioners, the Canadian Bar Association, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society and the International Bar Association. She is Past Chair of the Wills & Estates Section of the Canadian Bar Association of Nova Scotia and is the Co-Founder and Past Chair of the Pride Business Network in Toronto, Ontario.

 Justice Darlene Jamieson

The Honourable Justice Darlene Jamieson was appointed to the Commission by the Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in June 2002 and then re-appointed to the Board of the Institute in March 2019. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in November 2018. Before her appointment she was a partner in the law firm Merrick Jamieson Sterns Washington & Mahody with preferred areas of practice being civil litigation, including insurance, banking, construction and employment law. She has held numerous and varied posts with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. In 2018, Justice Jamieson was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers.

 Richard J. Melanson  

Mr. Melanson was appointed to the Commission by the Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in September of 2012.  He is a member of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board and was a partner with the Halifax law firm of Blois, Nickerson & Bryson LLP. His areas of practice included administrative law, bankruptcy and insolvency, civil litigation, corporate & commercial, intellectual property and real estate. Mr. Melanson graduated from the Universite Sainte-Anne with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1981, and a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in 1983. In 1988 he graduated from Dalhousie Law School as Gold Medalist. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the provincial association of French speaking lawyers and has served as a volunteer with various organizations over the years. He has been a member of the Board of Examiners of Nova Scotia Social Workers’ Association and chair of the Discipline Committee, a member of the Agreement on Internal Trade Working Group and Director and Treasurer of Canadian Parents for French – Nova Scotia.

Dean Camille Cameron

Dean Cameron began her career in private practice in a commercial law firm in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she specialized in civil litigation. While in practice she was a frequent presenter at continuing legal education seminars and bar admissions courses, and taught Civil Trial Practice and Civil Procedure as a sessional lecturer. After ten years of law practice, she obtained an LLM degree at the University of Cambridge and then took up an academic appointment in Hong Kong. Prior to joining the Schulich School of Law, she held academic posts as the Dean of Windsor Law at the University of Windsor, and as a Professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia where she served a term as Associate Dean and as Director of the Civil Justice Research Group. Dean Cameron has served on numerous committees dealing with academic and senior administrative appointments and promotion, research integrity, reviews of academic departments and faculties, teaching quality and university governance. In Windsor she has been the Chair and a member of the Board of Governors of Legal Aid Windsor, and she is presently the Chair of the Advisory Board of Community Legal Aid and a member of the Board of Directors of Hiatus House. She is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia and has been a Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Oxford.

George Ash

Mr. Ash is a Partner and a member of the Real Estate and Estate teams. He practices in the areas of wills and trusts, estate administration and litigation, with a focus on guardianship applications and estate advice as well as disputes with probate. Mr. Ash is also an experienced residential real estate lawyer who works with mortgage brokers, bank and real estate agents, assisting clients with the purchase or sale of their home.

Mr. Ash is the President of the Board of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission. He is a member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, Canadian Bar Association, and Halifax Estate Planning Council. He is the former Chair of the Advisory Council for the Indigenous Black & Mi’kmaq Initiative, Schulich School of Law, and former Chair of the Share the Dream Organizing Committee.

Deputy Minister Catherine Berliner

Deputy Minister Berliner has been working in Government for 17 years. She is currently the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and is the first Deputy Minister of Indigenous descent in Nova Scotia. Deputy Minister Berliner has a Masters of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University and has held senior management roles in the Nova Scotia government since 2003.

Dr. Liesl Gambold

Dr. Liesl Gambold is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. She is an anthropologist whose earlier work in Russia focused on economic and social responses to political and market restructuring, gender relations in rural communities, and the struggle between individual and group ideologies. Dr. Gambold’s current anthropological research is on aging, migration and housing. As baby boomers enter retirement age, shifts in their demographics and lifestyle choices are increasingly salient in policy-making and academic discussions.

Dr. Gambold has conducted research in Mexico among Canadians and Americans who have permanently migrated south, in southern France and Spain, which have been popular European retirement destinations for decades, in Sweden and Germany, where she interviewed residents at LGBT aging and housing facilities, and in Brussels where she interviewed European Union officials about EU pensioner, migration and health policies. Dr. Gambold specializes in qualitative research methods including participant observation, interviewing and focus groups. She has been the lead qualitative researcher on projects examining the evolution of the cancer formulary review in Canada, as well as uncertainty tolerance among experts involved in drug reimbursement recommendations in Canada and the European Union. Dr. Gambold is the Gender and Women’s Studies Coordinator at Dalhousie University and a research associate at Dalhousie’s European Union Centre of Excellence. 

Nikki Robar

Ms. Robar is the Partner leading the Deals practice for PwC in Atlantic Canada. She leads the Valuations, Modelling and Disputes practice as well as the Transaction Services practice for the firm’s Atlantic Canada office.

Ms. Robar graduated with a BBA (Hons) from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia in 1994. She continued her business education by becoming a CA in 1996 and a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) in 2006. She is member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators.

In the community Ms. Robar volunteers with the St. Francis Xavier University Alumni and the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning. She is a member of the board of Governors for St. Francis Xavier University and also a member of the Atlantic Chapter of the Women President’s Organization.

Staff

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Ilana Dodi Luther

Ilana joined the Commission in June 2011. She has worked for legal aid in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, she received a Master of Arts in Political Science from York University. On 2004, she received her law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, followed by a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School. She has taught at the Schulich School of Law on a part-time basis. In 2015, Dr. Luther obtained her Doctorate in Law from Schulich School of Law. In 2017 she took a hiatus from the Commission to work as a policy analyst for the Government of Nova Scotia. She returned to serve as Executive Director in 2018.

LEGAL RESEARCH COUNSEL

Sarah Burton

Sarah joined the Institute as legal research counsel in January 2019. Sarah obtained her law degree from Dalhousie University in 2008 and was called to the Nova Scotia and Alberta bars in 2009. She has a Masters in Law from the London School of Economics and is currently pursuing doctoral studies with the University of Ottawa. Sarah has worked as a civil litigator in one of Canada’s leading law firms, and has been involved in cases before the Supreme Court of Canada. She also has worked with human rights and civil liberties organizations, where she focused on access to justice and public education.

SPECIAL COUNSEL

William H. Charles, Q.C.

Professor Charles has acted as Special Counsel to the Commission since 2001. He is a graduate of Dalhousie (where he was Dean of Law 1979-1985), Concordia, Harvard and Michigan universities. Professor Charles was the first President of the Law Reform Commission, and held that position from 1991 to 1995. He has served on a number of Boards and Councils in Nova Scotia and continues to publish books and articles on various legal topics.