The founders of Tollefson Law have worked together for close to a decade on a range of high profile cases representing public interest and Indigenous clients. They have been counsel of record in legal proceedings relating to the Enbridge Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain Expansion pipelines, the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, and the Teck Frontier oil sands project. For seven years, they represented two school teachers in legal challenges to protect air quality threatened by emissions from industrial facility in Kitimat, British Columbia.
CHRIS TOLLEFSON, Principal
Chris is the founding principal of Tollefson Law and a Professor of Law at the University of Victoria. Since 2016, he is also the founding Executive Director of Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), Canada’s first charity dedicated to educating and training aspiring environmental litigators.
He has degrees from Queen’s, University of Victoria and Osgoode Hall Law School, and clerked at the BC Court of Appeal for Justices Lambert and Macdonald.
Chris combines teaching and research on environmental issues with counsel work for various public interest environmental clients. This counsel work has included appearances before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and various environmental regulatory boards and tribunals. He was counsel to BC Nature and Nature Canada during both the Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline hearing processes.
His publications cover a range of environmental and natural resource topics including environmental assessment, eco-certification, and access to justice. He is co-author (with Meinhard Doelle) of a leading environmental law textbook.
Chris is a former President of Ecojustice and founding executive director of the UVic Environmental Law Centre.
He has won various awards for his teaching and research, and in 2014 was the recipient of Nature Canada’s Conservation Partner Award for his work leading their legal team during the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings.
ANTHONY HO, Associate
Anthony received his J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2014, and was called to the British Columbia bar in May 2015. His areas of practice in public interest environmental law have included environmental assessments, regulatory hearings, and judicial reviews. He has appeared before the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel, the NEB in its hearing into the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the BC Environmental Appeal Board, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the BC Supreme Court. He also holds a Master of Public Administration (UVic ’14), a B.Sc. in environmental sciences (UBC ’10), and a B.A. in political science (UBC ’10).
In his capacity as Program Coordinator at the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), he helps deliver CELL’s educational program, which trains law students in litigation practice skills through exposure to real-life pieces of public interest environmental litigation.
LYDIA YOUNG, Articled Student
Lydia received her J.D. from the University of Victoria in 2023 with a concentration in environmental law and sustainability. She also holds a B.Sc. in kinesiology (UVic, 2019). Lydia currently volunteers as an Associate Fellow with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) and as Programme Coordinator of the Biodiversity Law and Governance Initiative (BLGI).
While in law school, Lydia was a participant and student mentor in the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL) educational program, sat as a student board member with the UVic Environmental Law Centre, and volunteered as co-president for the UVic Environmental Law Club.
Lydia is pursuing a career in public interest environmental law with a focus on implementing national and international climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development goals.
JAMES MAGER, Law Student
James is a J.D. candidate at the University of Victoria with an academic background in political science and environmental studies. As a long-time social justice activist, James aspires to protect the environment and those who defend it.
James is the co-president of the UVic Environmental Law Club, an active member of UVic law students for Harm Reduction and Decriminalization (HARD Law), and a community volunteer. He participated in the fall 2021 cohort of the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL). Outside of Tollefson Law you can find him on his bike, camping, or reading a book by the ocean.
PATRICK MCDERMOTT, Law Student
Patrick is a J.D. candidate at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law focusing on public interest environmental law and criminal defense. He has a B.A. from UC Davis where he studied Environmental Policy, Economics, and Statistics. Patrick has worked in the legal field in both Canada and the United States, including positions at the Santa Cruz Superior Court and the California Attorney General’s Office, Land Use and Conservation Section.
Patrick is passionate about environmental justice and protection, as well as criminal justice reform. In his spare time, he can be found backpacking, woodworking, baking, or running with his dog.
AYDA SAKAR, Accountant and Administrative Assistant
Ayda moved to Canada from Turkey during her second year of high school and quickly fell in love with Canada’s immense beauty and potential. She completed the Business Accounting program at St. Lawrence College in 2023 and during her studies, she developed a strong passion for bookkeeping and financial planning. She is now pursuing her CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) designation.
Ayda likes to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, read, and do yoga in her spare time.