Board of Directors



1st Vice President


Jade A. Spalding
Cox & Palmer
Frederiction, NB

Jade practises in the areas of Insurance Litigation, Business Litigation and Personal Injury. He was born in Ontario, but grew up in New Brunswick and was admitted to the bar in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1994 and has specialized in litigation since 1995. He is also a licensed hunting guide


Laura Emmett
Lerners LLP
London, ON

Laura is the Past Chair of CDL's Young Lawyer Committee and is a partner in the insurance defence group at Lerners. Her practice includes motor vehicle tort work, property damage, product liability, accident benefits and priority disputes/loss transfers. She is a Canadian Risk Manager with the Global Risk Management Institute. Laura is called to the bar in Ontario and Nunavut. She is an active member of the community in London, Ontario serving as the President of the Red Shoe Society which supports the Ronald McDonald House of Southwestern Ontario.

2nd Vice President


Max Hufton
Sound Law LLP
Squamish, BC

Max's experience of living and working in Europe, Asia, and now Canada, has provided him with insights into diverse cultures which have proven invaluable in the defence of claims within a multi-ethnic milieu. His current focus is on the defence of personal injury claims with a particular interest in the defence of brain injury claims


Aleks Zivanovic
Boghosian + Allen LLP
Toronto ON

Aleks is fluent in English, French, and Serbian/Croatian. She earned her civil law LL.B. from Quebec in 1999 and her common law LL.B. from Windsor in 2000. Most recently, in 2014, she earned her LL.M. at Osgoode Hall in Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution. Her academic research focuses on developing a sustainable civil justice reform theory. Prior to practice, Aleks taught Legal Research and Writing at the Faculty of Law in Windsor and published two editions of her book through Butterworths entitled: A Guide to Legal Research on the Internet.

Aleks's civil practice is primarly focused on commercial insurance claims including property, product liability, professional negligence as well as subrogation. She has become increasingly more engaged in assisting her clients over concerns of cyber/data breaches and resilience management.

Aleks has been a CDL Board of Director since 2014 as well as a member of the CDL CLE Committee. She is committed to educating defence lawyers on current issues and practices in civil litigation and dispute resolution that are of particular interest to the insurance industry.

Past President

David Festeryga
Sullivan Festeryga
Hamilton, ON

David concentrates his practice on insurance defence matters including motor vehicle injury claims, property losses, CGL issues and commercial host liability. David is a founding Committee member of the Mohawk College Private Investigations Credit Program.









Lee Akazaki
Gilbertson Davis
Toronto, ON

Fluently bilingual, Lee acts as civil trial and appeal counsel in all levels of Ontario courts, leave applications to the Supreme Court of Canada, and administrative tribunals. Lee is a past president of the Ontario Bar Association.

Talaal Bond
Matthews Abogado LLP
London, ON

Talaal Bond is a partner in the MA London office. He has extensive experience in insurance litigation, including motor vehicle (accident benefits and tort), tavern, occupiers' liability and property claims. He has been a member of CDL since his call to the Ontario Bar in 2001. He is a 2017 Lexpert Leading Lawyer in the category of Litigation – Commercial, Insurance. 


Howard Lightle
Weaver Simmons LLP

Sudbury, ON

Howard Lightle was born in Kingston, Ontario and was raised primarily in Moncton, New Brunswick. He moved to Sudbury in 1995. His practice is limited to civil litigation, with the majority being focussed on insurance related litigation.

Practice Areas:

Civil Litigation, particularly Personal Injury Defence, Subrogation, Statutory Accident Benefits Defence and Insurance Coverage Issues.




Andrea Lim
Dutton Brock LLP

Toronto, ON

Andrea is developing her practice in a variety of insurance defence work, with a focus on first party accident benefits claims.
Andrea completed her Bachelor of Arts with Honours distinction at the University of Toronto, Trinity College in 2003. She also obtained her Master of Arts in History at Queen's University in 2005. Andrea went on to obtain her LLP at the University of Windsor in 2008.

Chris Madill
Stewart McKelvey

Halifax, NS

Chris works hard to develop out-of-the box solutions that maximize client goals while minimizing expense. Christopher’s clients are looking to have their litigation risk managed appropriately and resolved in a cost-effective and timely manner.  Working with clients found in industries such as insurance, banking/finance, securities, construction and manufacturing, some of the ways he has helped his clients are by:
Acting  on behalf of insurers on coverage issues and defence of claims in the areas of automobile and personal injury, product liability, occupiers’ liability, property insurance and professional liability.
Acting in disputes involving corporate and securities issues, such as shareholder disputes, oppression claims and directors’ and officers’ duties.
Acting on behalf of banks, mutual fund dealers and securities firms in matters involving trading issues and contract claims.
Acting on behalf of owners, general contractors and subcontractors on construction matters, including contract and negligence claims, construction liens, bond claims, tendering disputes and delay claims.
Acting  on behalf of companies with respect to product liability claims including negligent design, negligent manufacture, failure to warn and warranty claims.

Debbie Orth
Bertschi Orth Solicitors and Barristers LLP

Ottawa, ON

Debbie restricts her practice to litigation and insurance defence work including defending personal injury, automobile, accident benefits, property and casualty, educational malfeasance, professional liability, commercial general liability, life and disability and defamation claims;
She represents higher educational institutions on insurance and other related matters.

Debbie has acted as trial counsel on catastrophic losses and has provided coverage opinions on insurance matters including, inter alia, complex jurisdictional issues which involve the interaction of the Accident Benefit scheme in Ontario with the WSIB as well as the interplay of Ontario's S.A.B.S’ without province first party benefits.


Dena Reimer
Vancouver, BC

Dena Reimer graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (Criminology Major). She graduated with an LL. B. from the University of Victoria in 1992 and was called to the BC Bar in 1993. Dena worked in private practice for 9 years doing insurance defence work, criminal defence and ad hoc prosecuting, family law and corporate commercial litigation. During this time she successfully completed numerous trials, including jury trials, Chambers applications and mediations. In 2001, Dena joined ICBC as an In-House counsel defending ICBC’s insured against various claims. In 2007 she moved to the Special Counsel Department which is responsible for the procurement and management of legal services for outside defence counsel. In 2010, Dena joined the CLE committee of CDL and in 2012 she joined the Board of Directors of CDL

Heather Sanderson
Sanderson Law

Calgary, AB

Heather, the principal at Sanderson Law, a coverage boutique, located in Calgary, AB, has more than 30 years of insurance and commercial litigation experience acting for North American and European insurers, and reinsurers, drafting policy wording, providing coverage opinions on property and liability policies of every description, defending both simple and complex actions, as well as providing strategic advice on the management of bad faith actions. In addition, she is a nationally recognized authority on the CGL policy, who has provided expert evidence on CGL coverage issues to Canadian Courts and has appeared as counsel before a full panel of the Supreme Court of Canada as well as all levels of the Courts of Alberta. Most recently, Heather was Chair of CDL’s Insurance Coverage & Practice Committee and Chair of DRI’s Insurance Law Sub-committee, Canadian Law and Cross-Border Issues.

Roger Watts
Lindsay LLP

Vancouver BC

Roger Watts was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1999. He practices exclusively in civil litigation, and has appeared before the Federal Court of Canada, the Yukon Supreme Court and all levels of court in British Columbia.Roger has represented plaintiffs, defendants and insurance interests in numerous personal injury and casualty cases, including motor vehicle litigation, motor carrier and transportation cases, marine casualties, aviation casualties and occupiers’ liability cases. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving brain and spinal injuries and other high-complexity injury claims.  Roger also acts for a number of trucking and motor carrier interests in cargo loss cases, freight claims, multimodal carriage disputes and regulatory infractions. In the marine context, Roger acts for marine underwriters and other clients in matters such as highway accidents, cargo loss cases, ship collisions, fire losses, ship and sistership arrest, ships’ mortgages, and marine insurance coverage disputes.  His experience in aviation loss claims includes personal injury/death claims relating to small aircraft and helicopter crashes, product liability issues and class action claims.

Audrey P. Ramsay

Blouin Dunn LLP

Toronto, ON

Audrey’s  practice focuses on a broad range of insurance defence work including commercial, professional negligence, property and casualty, and automobile insurance (both tort and accident benefits). Audrey is preferred counsel to the Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company (LawPRO).












MICHAEL HART, B.A. (HONS).LL.B Director, Claims Legal Counsel Ontario, Atlantic and Western Regions Desjardins General Insurance Group


Michael Hart is legal counsel and Director of the Claims Legal Counsel Department of Desjardins General Insurance. Through both legal practice and management, he has developed expertise in all lines of business including accident benefits, bodily injury, auto physical damage, homeowners, subrogation, loss transfer and priority disputes. Michael joined DGIG in 2006 and held progressively senior positions until becoming a Director of the CLC in 2011. Michael sits on a number of Desjardins claims and management committees, and provides technical and leadership advice on trial and arbitration matters. On an industry level, Michael has consulted with Government on catastrophic impairment reform, auto and homeowner’s insurance product reform, the AB dispute system and legal fees and disbursements. He currently sits as a member of the FSCO Superintendent’s Legal Advisory Committee. Michael received an Honours B.A from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1999 and LL.B from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2002. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2003. His memberships include the Canadian Bar Association and Canadian Defence Lawyers.















DRI Regional Director

DRI General Counsel Rep.

Heather Sanderson

Sanderson Law

Calgary, AB

Laura Emmett

Lerners LLP

London, ON


Executive Director


Randi Glass
Canadian Defence Lawyers 
Toronto, ON

Randi is a highly experienced association executive. Prior to CDL, she was Director, Membership and Volunteer Development for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in New York City. Randi holds both CAE (Certified Association Executive) and CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designations.


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