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 ten cases in the Supreme Court of Canada. She has served as co-counsel to interveners in three 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; and Moore v. British Columbia (Education), 2012 SCC 61, [2012] 3 S.C.R. 360.

Melina served as Policy Counsel to the British Columbia Missing Women Commission of Inquiry from 2010 to 2012. Here is the link: Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. She has been very active in the access to justice field serving as:

  • Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Access to Justice Committee from 2011-2013
  • Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s Envisioning Equal Justice Initiative and authoring the resulting report
  • Chairing the National Envisioning Equal Justice Summit in April 2013
  • Member of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters chaired by the Honourable Justice Thomas Cromwell, 2011-2013
  • Co-Chair of the Canadian Bar Association and Association of Legal Aid Plans Joint Working Group on National Legal Aid Benchmarks, 2015-2016
  • Consultant to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s access to justice initiative (ongoing)
  • Board Member of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (ongoing)
  • Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s Legal Aid Test Case Advisory Committee (ongoing)


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 and Malawian 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 as a Board Member and Corporate Secretary 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

  • A National Framework for Meeting Legal Needs: Proposed National Benchmarks for Public Legal Assistance Services (CBA, 2016)
  • Reaching Equal Justice – an invitation to envision and act(CBA, 2013)
  • “No Shadows in the Fog: Personal Reflections on Working to Make the Promise of Equality a Lived Reality” 64 UNBLJ 218 (2013)
  • “Use and Occupancy: Building Codes and Maintenance Manuals: Can Court Rules Increase Access to Justice”, Trevor Farrow and Patrick Molinari (ed.) The Courts and Beyond: The Architecture of Justice in Transition (CIAJ, 2012)
  • Various reports for the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
  • “Lawyers, Snails and Bottles” in Thomas Cromwell, Darrell Pink and David Blaikie (ed.) Why Good Lawyers Matter. (Irwin Law, 2012)
  • 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)
  • “The Challenge of Litigating the Rights of Poor People: The Right to Legal Aid as a Test Case” in Margot Young, Susan E. Boyd, Gwen Brodsky and Shelagh Day (ed.) Poverty: Rights, Social Citizenship and Legal Activism (UBC Press, 2007)
  • “The Second Decade: The Role of the Canadian Bar Association in Implementing the Touchstones Report” in Elizabeth Sheehy and Sheila McIntyre (ed.), Calling for Change: Women, Law and the Legal Profession (University of Ottawa Press, 2006).


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
  • Pro-Sys Consultants Ltd. v. Microsoft Corporation, [2013] 3 S C R 477
  • Trial Lawyers Association of BC and Canadian Bar Association BC v. BC (Attorney General), [2014] 3 S C R 31