604-689-7555 or 1-800-689-2322
Melina Buckley
Contact Information
Telephone: 604-331-9537
Email: mbuckley@cfmlawyers.ca
Catherine Polder
Telephone: 604-331-9532
Email: cpolder@cfmlawyers.ca
Called to the Bar: 1990 (ON), 2010 (BC)

Melina joined CFM in 2010 as an associate focusing on class-action cases. Before formally joining CFM, Melina worked with partners J.J. Camp, Q.C. and Sharon Matthews, Q.C. on litigation dealing with access to justice in Canada.

Melina has been retained on important public interest cases including eight cases in the Supreme Court of Canada. She has served as co-counsel to interveners in two of the leading human rights cases on the duty to accommodate: British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 3 (“Meiorin”) and Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. VIA Rail Canada Inc., [2007] 1 S.C.R. 650.

Melina currently serves as policy counsel to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in British Columbia and chairs both of the following:

  • Canadian Bar Association’s National Access to Justice Committee
  • Canadian Bar Association’s Legal Aid Test Case Advisory Committee

Melina also participates in public interest matters outside Canadian borders, including:

  • advising parties to the constitutional amendment process in Nepal on how to implement equal rights for women;
  • aiding with a 2006-07 review of Jamaica’s justice system, supporting stakeholders as they developed a justice system modernization plan; and
  • participating in Kenyan litigation dealing with violence against young girls via a Canadian NGO called the Equality Effect.

For her distinguished service, the Canadian Bar Association recognized Melina with the 2011 Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence.

Melina’s experience also includes working with the Canadian Bar Association as Senior Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs and following that working as a sole practitioner and legal policy consultant focusing primarily on the areas of access to justice and women’s equality rights.

Prior to earning her law degree (cum laude) from the University of Ottawa, Melina earned a B.A. with honours in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto as well as an M.A. in International Affairs from Carleton University. She also holds a Ph.D. in law from the University of British Columbia.

Outside the field of law, Melina currently participates on the Founders Council of Ballet British Columbia. She has volunteered with the B.C. and national Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and chaired the board of the former Court Challenges Program of Canada.

Recent Publications:

  • “Lawyers, Snails and Bottles” in Thomas Cromwell, Darrell Pink and David Blaikie (ed.) On Being a Lawyer. Publication forthcoming by Irwin Law.
  • Moving Forward on Legal Aid. Recent Needs Research and Innovations. Canadian Bar Association (Ottawa, April 2010) Read the CBA Legal Aid Renewal Paper.
  • “Ideas and Transformation: A Reflection on Bertha Wilson’s Contribution to Women in the Legal Profession”, in Kim Brooks (ed.) Justice Bertha Wilson: One Woman’s Difference (UBC, 2009).
  • “Searching for the Constitutional Core of Access to Justice”, 2008, 42 Supreme Court Law Review (2d.) 567-593
  • Symes v. Canada“, (2006) 18 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 27-66 – Special Issue: Rewriting Equality (Women’s Court of Canada) (2007)


Representative Experience

  • British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 3 (“Meiorin”)
  • Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. VIA Rail Canada Inc., [2007] 1 S.C.R. 650