Barbara came to law as a second career, following initial post-graduate studies in English literature, working in corporate communications and volunteering in the not-for-profit sector. She graduated at the top of her class from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1999 and articled at the Supreme Court of Canada, where she clerked for Justice Louise Arbour – a position obtained by only the most exceptional law graduates each year.
Barbara became a lawyer in 2001 and practiced in the Health Law Group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Over the course of her legal career, Barbara represented health care providers and hospitals in civil litigation disputes and before Coroner’s Inquests and Commissions of Inquiry, with a specialty focus on mental health law disputes. She regularly represented psychiatric facilities and health care providers before the Ontario Review Board and the Consent and Capacity Board and appeared frequently on appeals of those matters before the Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. She also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, as co-counsel representing an intervenor, in the leading decision of Starson v. Swayze, 2003 SCC 32, concerning capacity to consent to treatment.
Barbara also provided external counsel advice to public hospitals and psychiatric facilities on privacy, policy and enterprise risk management. She has been the co-author of the A Practical Guide to Mental Health and the Law in Ontario since the first edition was published in 2009, and has taken an active role in updating the 2023 fourth edition to be published shortly. Barbara is the author of the chapter on Mental Health Law in the Canadian Health Law Practice Manual and a contributing author to the chapter on Mental Health Law in the 3rd edition of Law for Canadian Health Care Administrators, (LexisNexis). She has been a regular and highly regarded presenter to the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (CAPL), the national body representing psychiatrists in Canada with an interest in the field of forensic psychiatry.
For several years, she was a program director and co-chair of the Osgoode Certificate in Mental Health, Osgoode Professional Development Centre. She was a frequent speaker at medico-legal continuing education events and authored numerous published articles on topics related to mental health law.
Barbara also has an expertise in public health law. Early in her legal career, she was very involved in advising Hospitals involved in the SARS epidemic and provided exemplary legal support in the commissions and inquiries which followed. Likewise, more recently, she has been an invaluable resource to Hospitals and the long-term care sector in the interpretation and implementation of public health guidelines and directives related to the COVID19 pandemic.
Through her leadership and mentorship, she has nurtured the careers of many health law lawyers at BLG, including several who progressed to take on in-house counsel roles with various hospitals including CAMH and SickKids.
Barbara was selected by her peers for inclusion in the 2015 to 2022 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada® (for Health Care Law, Administrative and Public Law) and in the 2022 edition (since 2021) (for Personal Injury Litigation).