July 10, 2012



Biography of Marla Gilsig – Vancouver Family Lawyer

Marla graduated from University of Victoria Law School in 1978 and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1979.

Marla is an effective, compassionate and knowledgeable family lawyer who practices in Vancouver, British Columbia.  She enjoys working with clients who want practical and affordable choices to prevent or resolve family law disputes. Her daily focus is negotiating settlements and drafting family law agreements including cohabitation, marriage, and separation agreements.  Having taken training in Collaborative Law Practice and certified as a Family Law Mediator, Marla offers her clients alternatives to litigation and recognizes that, in appropriate cases, collaborative law or mediation can assist in resolving disputes in a timely and economical way.  Marla is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Collaborative Divorce Vancouver which brings together family lawyers, mental health professionals and financial advisors to help separating couples reach a settlement, where the well being of the family members is best protected, and a model for the future separated family can be created. 

Presently, Marla is a Member of the Advisory Committee of the British Columbia Law Institute’s Technology, Remoteness, Disability and Evidence Project.  The project aims to enhance the opportunities for residents of rural areas, persons with disabilities, and the elderly to give evidence and participate fully in legal processes that affect them without incurring economic or physical hardship.   

Formerly Marla served as a member of the Legal Committee of various advocacy organizations including West Coast Women’s Legal and Education Fund, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, and the Canadian Disability Rights Council.  She has managed equality rights litigation that impacted on women or people with disabilities.  Marla worked on the family law case, Rick v. Brandsema, 2009 SCC 10 where the Supreme Court of Canada set aside a separation agreement as unconscionable on the grounds the husband exploited the wife’s mental instability at the time the agreement was executed.  She worked on Elridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General), (1977) 3 S.C.R. 624, where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the failure of BC Medical Services Plan and hospitals to provide sign language interpretation where necessary for effective communication violates the Charter Section 15 (1) rights of patients who are deaf. 

Marla’s publications and lectures include Providing Legal Services to Clients with Communication Disabilities, Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, CLE-TV, 2011 and 2012, and Equal Access to the Canadian Justice System for Persons who are Hard of Hearing or Deafened, 1966, revised 2002, one of the earliest writing in Canadian literature on law and disabilities.  

Marla has worked as a volunteer for the Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch, in variety of capacities including as Chair of the Small, Solo and General Practice Firms Section for the Vancouver lower mainland, Executive Member of the CBA National Small, Solo and General Practice Forum, Mentor in the Women Lawyers Forum Mentorship Program, Branch Liaison to the Judiciary on Disability Issues, and as a Member of the Court Services Committee.


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