Heron Law Offices was founded by Will Tao and Edris Arib. Will and Edris spent nearly three years working together at Edelmann and Co. Law Offices, a leading and award-winning progressive Canadian immigration and refugee law firm in Vancouver, B.C. Their collaboration led to Will winning the Canadian Bar Association’s Founder’s Award in 2020 and Vancouver Immigration Blog being named Best Law Blog in Canada in 2019.
Prior to this, Will spent three years as a lawyer with Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers and Solicitors, a Top 10 Canadian Immigration Boutique Law Firm. During this time, Edris worked for leading international organizations such as International Development Law Organization (IDLO); Transparency International and Norwegian Refugee Council with a focus on the rule of law and human rights subject matters.
On a fateful (cold, but sunny) December day, Will and Edris met at a quaint coffee shop on Commercial Drive. Edris told Will, who was at the time already expecting his first daughter and made a major move to Burnaby, B.C., that it was now or never to build their own, encumbered, story – their own Law Firm. Edris promised he would be there as Will’s right-hand and co-founder.
Adding Our First Lawyer: Meeting Angela
Early in our practice, we met Angela Lee Harris, a lawyer who is passionate about social justice and assisting people on their journeys to building a better future. Angela articled at a small full-service law firm in downtown Vancouver, BC, where she developed a keen interest in immigration and refugee law. She was also eager to explore the intersections between Canadian immigration law and Indigenous law and communities, and came from a family of strengthen, resiliency, and proximity to Canadian immigration.
Adding Candy and Bringing in Harmit
Shortly after, a former star student from Will’s teaching days at University of British Columbia (UBC), Candy Hui, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), joined the team as a case manager. Candy brought a high-energy, research-intensive approach in working on our immigration matters and with our clients. As a Pharmacist by training, she concocted an unprecedent level of care to her work while raising a family of four, including two young children.
While we were not considering expanding our lawyer team for another year, a (then) corporate lawyer who sent an email requesting to meet us changed all of that. Harmit had an informational interview with Angela, who immediately told Will we had to meet her, and we did – and were instantly in love. Harmit, who on her home vision board, set a goal to practice in a legal area close to her family’s immigration story and her passion for serving community joined us in August 2021.
Our Team, Together
Together, as a team, we want to build a firm around the core principles of compassion, empathy, and justice. We believe that our lived experiences and evidence and research-based knowledge can help guide you in your times of greatest need.
Read about our vision in our open letter below (before we launched the firm):
As we work to build this website and officially launch our Firm, I wanted to tell you a bit more about our story as a preview for our work to come. This is the story of why we founded Heron Law Offices: Lawyers for Migrant Communities after a wonderful and supportive time with Edelmann and Co. Law Offices.
Co-founded in 2021 by Will Tao (Principal) and Edris Arib (Case Manager/Director of Operations), we started Heron because we wanted to create a Canadian Law Firm to do law differently. We will start our work in our areas of focus and expertise– Canadian immigration, citizenship, and refugee law. Our bigger dreams, however, hold a bigger vision.
We noticed that our ideal client base is increasingly tech-savy (or eager to learn more), but concerned about their bottom line and the overall cost of legal services. We noticed clients want to be relationship partners in a well-managed process not just treated as the transactional end-product. We noticed that our clients want compassionate forward-thinking representation from lawyers who are themselves from racialized migrant communities, who want to invest in the future of the community, and go an extra step for them in the often-challenging Canadian journey.
We also see immigration as part of a larger conversation and dialogue and utilize the lessons learned from our work to bring about bigger transformative change. We will do this through our partner, non-profit organization The Arenous Foundation https://www.arenous.ca/. We pledge to re-invest our time and resources to re-think the system of settler colonialism and negative racialization that immigration has too often re-produced and create opportunities for those who are our clients and Indigenous communities for whom immigration has most impacted. We have a dream to have The Arenous Foundation be Canada’s leading immigration think-tank and utilize the profit-side of Heron Law Offices to support the advocacy, research, and education to hold decision-makers to account and change Canadian law and policy.
When you work with Heron Law Offices, you not only help you, your family, and your colleagues solve their immigration problems, you invest in the future. You invest in our children, our essential workers, and our families. Our four core focus areas, of (1) international students and international educators, (2) families, (3) temporary foreign workers, and (4) immigration litigation (with a focus at the Federal Court and Immigration Appeal Division) to represent those whose rights are most adversely impacted by the immigration system and who need better representation.
The Heron is considered a symbol by local Indigenous communities for self-determination – and we hold this as a core value. The Heron is also a watcher, a sentinel, a marker for biodiversity. We want to be a litmus test for lawyering with compassion and serving with confidence and grace. We are determined to change the practice of law through representing you and creating a broader conversation around Indigenous sovereignty over Canadian immigration issues. More on those plans to come.
So why are we doing this now? Why are we leaving comfortable positions for this new venture?
We are doing this because we want to build a legacy piece for our families, for our children, and their generation. We are doing this because we love this country but also believe it can be better. We have received training at some of the best immigration law firms in the country and through our work with leading international and national advocacy organizations.
We invite you to join us and are excited for this journey with you.
Heron Law Offices
Will Tao, Principal/Canadian Immigration Lawyer
Edris Arib, Case Manager/Director of Operations
Our areas of specialty
Canadian Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship law firm based in the Greater Vancouver area serving clients in Canada and around the World.
We chose to launch our headquarters in Burnaby, B.C. (with mobility throughout the Greater Vancouver region) because we believe this city represents our ideal future Canada in terms of diversity, resilience, and often hidden beauty. We look forward to welcoming you at our offices.
As set out in our value propositions, we believe there is a way to lawyer differently. We aim to provide process-oriented, cost effective services that are aided (not hindered) by technology and project management. We want to lawyer compassionately and confidently and continue the excellent work we have done to inspire future immigration lawyers and law students.
We want to be Lawyers for Migrant Communities and do this for our next generation. We thank you for being part of our story.
Going beyond the law
At Heron Law, we go beyond the limitations that the law often provides. Our clients’ experiences are transformed into advocacy and action. We take lessons learned and apply them to our community work, our strategic litigation, and our participation on policy panels. We advocate for larger systemic changes to benefit our clients and the system as a whole.
Our Visions for Expansion
We hope for Heron Law Offices to provide other legal services beyond immigration law and are actively looking to partner with human rights, family, criminal, small business, non-profit, employment, and social services-related lawyers to transform our Firm into a more comprehensive source for migrant communities.
We invite lawyers, law students, immigration professionals, and support staff interested in our work and our direction to email us at email@example.com
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