Small Firm. Big Thinking.

A dedicated team of local government lawyers providing sophisticated, tailored legal services and genuine personal attention to our clients.

Meet the Civic Legal Team

Pam Jefcoat

Pam is the managing partner of the firm and has over 16 years of combined experience in local government and commercial real estate law.  Pam also has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and provides advice on a wide variety of local government matters, with a focus on land use planning, and development, subdivision, constitutional jurisdiction and all aspects of real estate development. Pam also regularly advises local government clients on access to information, privacy compliance, procedural and administrative matters and compliance with local government legislation. Pam, who originally hails from Armstrong, BC, is committed to public education and speaks extensively throughout the province on matters of interest to local governments.

T604.358.2248Epam@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2001 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2001 – Masters, Public Administration, University of Victoria
  • 2000 – LL.B., University of Victoria
  • 1995 – B.A. (Political Science), University of Victoria

Sonia Sahota

Sonia is a partner of the firm and brings over 11 years of experience in local government and construction law matters.  Sonia is also a non-practising professional engineer, having left the practice after 10 years of working on civil and geotechnical design and construction projects, both in North America and overseas.  Sonia provides legal advice, with practical insight, on construction, procurement, environmental and liability issues for local governments as well as all general municipal matters.  Sonia presents regularly on legal topics of interest to members of the local government and engineering communities, such as the Municipal Engineers Division of APEGBC and Public Works Association (BC).

T604.358.7167Esonia@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2006 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2005 – LL.B., University of British Columbia
  • 1990 – Ap.Sc. (Civil), University of British Columbia

Rina Thakar

Rina is a partner of the firm with over 16 years experience in local government and corporate law. Having obtained her Law and Master’s degrees in England, Rina was first called to the Bar in England in 1997, and subsequently in Kenya and British Columbia.  Rina provides advice on a range of local government matters, with a focus on complex contract drafting, access to information, privacy compliance, corporate, financial and taxation issues.  Rina is also frequently involved with real estate and land development transactions, as well as the establishment and governance of municipal corporations, and has advised on a number of servicing agreements and joint venture arrangements involving local governments and First Nations.  Rina has spoken at numerous conferences and seminars of interest to local government staff, including for the LGMA, GFOABC and the BCWWA.

T604.358.7590Erina@civiclegal.cavCard

Education & Year of Call
  • 2007 – Admitted to the British Columbia Bar
  • 2000 – Admitted to the Kenya Bar
  • 1998 – LL.M., London School of Economics, England
  • 1997 – Admitted to the Bar of England and Wales
  • 1996 – LL.B., University of Warwick, England

Mariana Bolivar

Mariana is the firms’ Paralegal, efficiently providing support to the partners within their respective areas of practice.  Mariana brings seasoned professional experience to the firm, having worked in a law firm in Mexico City for 15 years. After immigrating to Canada, Mariana worked as an Interpreter for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Canada Border Service Agency for over 6 years.  Prior to joining Civic Legal, she performed administrative duties as a Receptionist/Legal Secretary for a large law firm in downtown Vancouver.

T604.358.1933Emariana@civiclegal.cavCard

Hanna El Rayess

Hanna is the Legal Administrator for Civic Legal LLP and responsible for managing the administrative operations of the firm. She provides support in all facets of the firm’s operations, including billing, accounting, document management, marketing and professional development.  Before joining Civic Legal, Hanna worked at a law firm in downtown Vancouver as an Accounting and Administrative Assistant. Prior to her foray into the legal field, Hanna co-owned and operated two dance and performing arts schools.  Hanna brings over 16 years of customer service and administration experience to the team.

T604.358.2669Ehanna@civiclegal.cavCard

Experience and Training
  • Certified in Administration and Computerized Accounting
  • Certificate in Trust Accounting
  • Certified and Registered Teacher Status with the Royal Academy of Dance
  • What We Do

    We provide a broad range of legal services to local governments, regulatory bodies and other public authorities.

    Our Areas of Expertise

    Rezoning, Land Development and Subdivision

    We have extensive experience in all aspects of land use planning, land development and rezoning including:

    Structuring and drafting simple and complex development agreements:
    • servicing and performance security for on-site and off-site works
    • easements and SRWs
    • phased developments
    • affordable housing and related construction covenants
    • latecomers
    Structuring and drafting Section 219 Covenants:
    • flooding, fire hazard, geo-hazard and other environmental conditions
    • district energy
    • energy efficient design
    • water conservation
    • public art
    • car share programs, electric vehicle charging stations, end-of-trip facilities and other transportation alternatives
    • other restrictions on the use, development and subdivision of land
    Advising on:
    • public hearings
    • zoning
    • subdivision
    • permit approvals
    • land use contracts and termination
    • liabilities associated with flood risks, geotechnical risks and extreme hazard conditions
    • geothermal and alternative energy source development

    Tendering, Construction & Infrastructure Development

    With a professional engineer on our team, we can speak the same language.  Our advice will not only consider the legal aspects of the issue but also focus on practical, workable solutions.  From concept to completion, or any stage in between, let our knowledgeable team shoulder the load of your next project with our expertise in:

    Advising on procurement and project development:
    • methods for procuring goods and services
    • procurement fairness protocols for administration, evaluation, selection and post-award issues
    • bidder non-compliance analysis
    • safely cancelling procurement processes
    • bid and project bonds
    • project delivery options (design-bid-build, design-build, construction management, others)
    • options for use of standard form contracts (eg. MMCD, CCDC, other)
    • negotiating works contracts
    • resolving legal issues relating to design and construction disputes
    Advising on construction:
    • builder’s lien issues and statutory obligations for owners
    • building bylaw and building code issues
    • contract interpretation
    • delay claims
    Drafting and structuring:
    • procurement documents (RFPs, tenders, addenda and other)
    • procurement policies and procedures
    • construction contracts
    • public private partnership agreements
    • consulting services contracts
    • supplementary conditions of contract

    Real Estate

    Real estate is a mainstay of our practice.  Let our extensive experience help you maneuver through your next transaction, big or small:

    Securing land tenure rights:
    • statutory rights of way
    • easements
    • leases
    • licenses
    • encroachments
    • expropriations
    Structuring and drafting:
    • contracts of purchase and sale
    • land exchange agreements
    • options to purchase
    • rights of first refusal
    • joint venture agreements
    • co-ownership agreements
    • assignment and assumption agreements
    Coordinating all aspects of the conveyance of lands:
    • public notices
    • due diligence investigations
    • environmental compliance
    • contaminated sites
    • Land Title Office filings
    Managing all aspects of road closures and park land disposal:
    • public notices
    • approval processes
    • bylaws
    • purchase and sale and exchange agreements
    • Land Title Office filings
    Structuring, drafting and providing strategic advice on a wide variety of lease arrangements:
    • offers to lease, options to lease, ground leases, building leases and subleases for industrial, commercial and residential properties
    • leasehold subdivisions
    • environmental risk allocation
    • advising on landlord/tenant rights

    Local Government Agreements

    We assist our clients with negotiating and drafting a myriad of different agreements from the very simple to the highly complex, including:

    Real Estate Agreements:
    • offers to purchase
    • purchase and sale
    • asset purchase
    • land exchange
    • options to purchase and rights of first refusal
    • joint venture
    • co-ownership
    • leases
    • licences
    • statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
    • exclusivity
    • beneficiary charge and authorization
    • assignment and assumption
    Land Development:
    • statutory rights of way, easements and section 219 covenants
    • master developments
    • servicing
    • municipal access
    • highway encroachment
    • phased development
    • amenities
    • affordable housing
    Construction Agreements:
    • design-build
    • works and services
    • infrastructure, including concession agreements and other public-private partnership agreements
    Servicing Agreements:
    • partnering
    • First Nations services
    • mutual aid
    • waste, organics and recyclables management
    • telecommunications
    Business and Finance Agreements:
    • operations and management
    • municipal corporations
    • community forests
    • revenue sharing
    • security, including loans, guarantees, mortgages, promissory notes and other forms of security arrangements
    • personal property security
    • confidentiality and non-disclosure
    • exclusivity
    • indemnification, release and waivers
    • revitalization tax exemptions
    • utility franchises
    • asset purchases
    • equipment leases
    • community energy utilities
    • sponsorship

    Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

    We provide day-to-day practical advice and support to local governments in their decision making under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, including:

    Advising on:
    • access to information requests
    • statutory disclosure obligations
    • privacy compliance obligations
    Assisting with:
    • mediations
    • inquiries before the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
    • the preparation of submissions and supporting affidavits for written inquiries

    General Municipal Advice

    With over 40 years of combined legal experience in local government, real estate, construction and corporate law, our team of lawyers is well positioned to advise local governments on:

    • constitutional law, jurisdiction and related regulatory issues
    • liability issues, loss prevention and risk management
    • permissive tax exemptions
    • revitalization tax exemptions
    • DCCs
    • establishment and use of reserve funds
    • bylaw drafting and interpretation
    • conflict of interest, procedural rules and related matters
    • remedial action authority
    • tax sales
    • elections
    • corporate governance issues
    • statutory interpretation

    Environmental

    We have worked through many land development and commercial transactions involving environmental issues.  Let us assist you by drawing from our experience in:

    Advising on:
    • local government regulatory authority under the EMA and CSR
    • regulatory tools for groundwater protection
    • riparian rights regulation
    • administration of the site profile regime
    • remediation of contaminated sites
    • cost recovery options
    • environmental risk allocation in local government contracts
    • strategies to minimize liability for purchasing/receiving contaminated sites
    • due diligence and regulatory compliance
    Structuring and Drafting:
    • environmental indemnity and release agreements
    • carbon offset agreements
    • waste, organics and recyclable collection and disposal (MMBC, in-house or private)
    • community energy agreements

    Working Smart

    We strive to increase efficiency and create predictability in fees by working directly with you at the beginning of each engagement to define expectations, plan the scope of work and monitor and manage the work to ensure your legal matters remain on track, on time and on budget.
    We may from time to time engage reputable independent research lawyers and paralegals, with your consent, for certain aspects of a project, where this would be sensible, cost-effective and efficient.

    Client Service Policy

    We are committed to providing exceptional service to our clients. Our goal is to raise your expectations and then exceed them. We will be accessible, responsive and will put the needs of our clients first. How will we do this?

    • We will return phone calls and emails as soon as possible and within one business day at the latest.

    • We will let you know when we will be out of reach and will provide the contact information of the person who can answer your questions.

    • We will ask you about your service preferences before, during and after each engagement.

    • We will communicate clearly regarding fees, costs, team members and deadlines.

    • We will respect our agreed upon fee arrangements and will staff each matter in a way that provides the best value for the service provided.

    • We will strive to meet or exceed our deadlines. If we cannot, we will let you know well in advance.

    • We will keep you completely up to date on the status of your matters.

    • Our bills will be clear, correct and prompt and will be in a format that meets your preferences.

    • We will meet with you in person or by telephone at least once a year - off the clock - to ask about your satisfaction with our services.

    • Last, but not least, we will, upon request and at no cost, provide you with on-site / in-house seminars on legal topics of interest to your staff.

    Rates And Billing Practices

    We will work with you to customize billing arrangements that are attuned to the services required and your bottom line, including traditional hourly billing, fee estimates, price caps and pre-agreed flat fees.