The Origins

Our Team

Heron Law Offices was founded in February 2021 by Will Tao and Edris Arib. The dream was simple – do law differently, and build a law firm that would bring a different, research-based, community-centered approach to practice.

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.

Heron was also a short-listed finalist for the Canadian Law Awards 2022 Best Pro Bono Project award for the Indigenous Name Reclamation project and the Clio Reisman Award for Best New Law Firm.

Before Heron

Prior to starting Heron, 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.

Humble Origins

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. 

Our Current Team

The Firm has engaged many top lawyers and students over the years. We are currently working alongside Laura Schemitsch, who is emerging as a rising star in the Canadian immigration and refugee law field.

We are currently supported by an amazing case manager/admin support team: Tobie Lin and Dana Kyle. 

Our Firm is constantly looking for new talent and we welcome lawyers to grow their careers and find their passion with us.

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 is also eager to explore the intersections between Canadian immigration law and Indigenous law and communities.

Adding Candy

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 brings a high-energy, research-intensive approach in working on our immigration matters and with our clients. As a Pharmacist by training, she is always looking for the right solution for our clients.

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:

Canadian Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship law firm based in the Greater Vancouver area serving clients in Canada and around the World.

Our core areas of specialization:

1. International Students
2. Judicial Reviews
3. Family and Spousal Sponsorships
4. Immigration Appeals

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 info@heronlaw.ca

Team

Today, I think of immigration law as the perfect all encompassing practice. I am a classic ‘solicitigator.’ I do solicitors work (applications) informed by my litigation (reconsideration/judicial reviews/appeals) work and vice-versa. Immigration law is very administrative in nature so I believe my ability to navigate bureaucracies and the humans behind the process also comes in handy. I get to interact on a daily basis with so many beautiful and flawed human beings and listen to so many different stories and process them. It’s an incredible way to go through life and I honestly foresee myself doing this work for a long time.
Will Tao

Co-founder/Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer

Will Tao (he/him)

Will Tao* (pronouns: he/him) is a Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer and the founder of Heron Law Offices who lives and works on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish – sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

Will provides legal services in all areas of Canadian immigration and refugee law with a focus on complex applications, overcoming refusals, inadmissibility matters, appeals, and judicial reviews. Will regularly appears before the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court of Canada. His focus is on international students, families, and temporary foreign workers.

Will also provides strategic advice and consultation to government, media, educational institutions, and businesses on immigration/refugee, decolonization, and race equity related issues. He is the founder and creator of the award-winning Vancouver Immigration Blog, where he hopes to make immigration and refugee law more accessible to the general public. He also has significant past teaching experience as an instructor for University of British Columbia’s Certificate in Immigration Laws, Policies, and Procedures (CILPP) program.

Outside of the law, Will is a blogger, podcaster, poet, writer, and often can be found in the back aisles of local ethnic grocery stores and sweating profusely in hole-in-the-wall restaurants/eateries asking for the ‘extra spicy.’ His most important job now is father to young diasporic daughters, Esmeranda and Almeria, and cheerleader for his incredible spouse, Olivia.

Awards and Recognitions

Will was awarded the Canadian Bar Association’s 2020 Founder’s Award for accomplishments in his first five years of practice, and has won two Clawbies Awards, including having the Best Immigration Law Blog in 2019. He is listed as a Best Lawyer™ in the practice area of Immigration since 2017.

Representative Cases

  • S v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2020 FC 718 (CanLII)
  • Canadian Council for Refugees v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), 2019 FC 418 (CanLII)
  • Z v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2018 FC 502 (CanLII)
  • Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. M, 2018 FC 729 (CanLII)
  • C v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2018 CanLII 89016 (CA IRB)
  • W v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2016 CanLII 90976 (CA IRB)

Community Involvement

Will currently sits as a Board member of the Roundtable Society. He is current Co-Chair and a founding member of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Immigration Section Anti-Racism Committee. He is also an Honourary Member of the Immigration Advocacy Committee of the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE).

He previously chaired the Cultural Communities Advisory Committee of the City of Vancouver and was on the Board of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, British Columbia (“FACLBC”)

Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer

Laura Schemitsch (she/her)

Laura Schemitsch was called to the bar in Ontario in June 2020. She was called to the bar in British Columbia in November 2021. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa in 2019 with specializations in Public Law and Law and Social Justice. Prior to studying law, she earned her Bachelor of Arts with Honours from McMaster University majoring in History, and a Master of Arts from Queen’s University in Art History. Laura’s academic work has been published in peer reviewed journals and books and most recently her legal op-eds were published in the Huffington Post and Canadian Bar Association National Magazine. In November 2022, Laura was invited to speak before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in Canada’s House of Commons.

Laura found her passion for immigration and refugee law in 2017 when she joined Capital Rainbow Refuge, a private sponsorship group that brings LGBTQIA2S+ refugees to Ottawa. Laura completed her articling placement at Gerami Law PC, a boutique immigration and refugee law firm in Ottawa between August 2019 and June 2020 and was hired back as an immigration and refugee lawyer. Laura moved to British Columbia in June 2020 and worked remotely for Gerami Law PC until November 2021. From November 2021 until June 2023, Laura practiced immigration and refugee law with Race and Company LLP in Whistler, BC.

Laura is thrilled to join Heron Law Offices as a Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer. She will continue to serve clients in the Squamish/Whistler/Sea-to-Sky corridor where she is a proud resident.

When Laura is not working she enjoys exploring the outdoors, dancing, crafting and her community work.

Community Involvement

Board Member and Volunteer Lawyer
South Asian Legal Clinic of British Columbia (SALCBC)

Volunteer Lawyer
Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR)

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
Harmit Sarai

Case Manager/RCIC - Contractor

Candy Ngo Fai Hui (she/her)

Candy Ngo Fai Hui is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant who lives and works on the Treaty four land which are the territories of the nêhiyawak (nay-hi-yuh-wuk), Anihšināpēk (uh-nish-i-naa-payk), Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation.

Candy received her immigration education from the University of British Columbia’s Certificate in Immigration Laws, Policies, and Procedures (CILPP) program.

Candy is an immigration professional but also a healthcare professional located in Regina, Saskatchewan. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (BSP) from the University of Saskatchewan.

Candy is eager to explore the world of immigration with the aid of her healthcare skills such as critically appraising resources, finding and communicating recommendations and actively listen, address and educate clients on multiple topics and concerns.

Candy is an active member of the Chinese community in Regina, Saskatchewan. She is proud member of the Regina Chinese Musical Association. She is a volunteer with the Regina Chinese Benevolent Association performing duties such as being the master of ceremony for Chinese New Years Celebrations.

Awards and Achievements

  • The Honourable Justice Grant Burnyeat Award in Law, University of British Columbia (2016)
  • University of Victoria Faculty of Social Sciences Dean’s List (2016)
  • University of Victoria Excellence Scholarship (2011-2015)

Professional Affiliations

Candy is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) and Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS).

*Candy provides case management services as an independent contractor through her consulting company, CJ Immigrations Ltd.

Case Manager

Dana Kyle (she/her)

Dana is an experienced immigration professional who lives and works on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish – sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations. Originally from Calgary, AB, Dana joined Heron Law in September 2023 as a Case Manager. As an experienced Case Manager with a previous background working in a high-volume immigration firm, Dana brings proven experience supporting a diverse range of clientele through the Canadian immigration system.

Dana holds a Certificate in Immigration Law, Policy, and Procedures from the University of British Columbia and earned a Master of Arts in Criminology from Simon Fraser University in 2019. Her Master’s thesis involved a comprehensive analysis of emerging Canadian criminal justice and public health policy. Dana has extensive experience applying and interpreting Canadian legislation including the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Dana is an immigration professional and a cancer survivor. She is a proud volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, volunteering with children and families impacted by a cancer diagnosis. Outside of work, Dana enjoys board games, reading any novel she can get her hands on, and exploring hiking trails with her dog and family.

Professional Affiliations

Candy is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) and Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS).

*Candy provides case management services as an independent contractor through her consulting company, CJ Immigrations Ltd.

Case Manager

Leanne Deboski (she/her)

In the spirit of reconciliation, Leanne acknowledges that she lives and works in Amiskwaciwâskahikan ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Edmonton), located inTreaty 6 territory and Metis Region #4. This land is a traditional gathering place and traveling route for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Nakota Sioux, Dene, Inuit, Métis and others who lived on these lands long before its colonization.

Leanne developed an interest in immigration and refugee work after facilitating the immigration and citizenship processes of her two youngest children who were both adopted internationally. As a second-generation Canadian, she is inspired by the stories of her own grandparents’ immigration journeys and their struggles settling in Canada as foreigners.

Over the past 16 years, Leanne has worked for international development organizations in both advocacy and fund-development roles while raising her 4 children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Canadian Immigration: Laws Policies & Procedures program.

Leanne is excited to be joining the team at Heron Law Offices and partnering with them in their vision to support Migrant Communities. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge within Canadian immigration and refugee law, and the opportunity to positively contribute to the work she is so passionate about.

Awards and Achievements

  • The Honourable Justice Grant Burnyeat Award in Law, University of British Columbia (2016)
  • University of Victoria Faculty of Social Sciences Dean’s List (2016)
  • University of Victoria Excellence Scholarship (2011-2015)

Professional Affiliations

Candy is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) and Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS).

*Candy provides case management services as an independent contractor through her consulting company, CJ Immigrations Ltd.

Case Manager

Tobie Lin (she/her)

Tobie joined Heron in October 2022 as a Case Manager. She brings with her 10 years of work experience in Canadian Immigration, with a solid understanding of immigration application and litigation processes.

Tobie has previously supported senior legal counsels and senior founding partners in her previous positions. To stay competitive in this field and continue to master her knowledge, she completed her Immigration Consultant Diploma in 2016. She also has recent experience assisting on complex civil litigation matters.

Tobie will be assisting Will as his primary case manager, resuming a partnership that begin when Tobie served as Will’s primary legal assistant at Larlee Rosenberg.

Tobie is trilingual (English, Mandarin and Cantonese) and is able to assist in communication, appeal hearing preparation, and other immigration-related litigation in all three languages.

Outside of work, Tobie enjoy spending time with her young son and family.

Professional Affiliations

Candy is a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) and Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS).

Co-founder/Consultant

Edris Arib
At – On Leave – Completing PhD (he/him)

Edris Arib is a Director of Operations/Case Manager at Heron Law Offices who lives and works on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish – sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

Edris Arib is a law and public policy professional with experience in international and civil society organisations. He worked as Legal Counselor for Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and as Policy and Advocacy Consultant for Transparency International.

He holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt in Germany.

Outside the Law Firm, Edris is immersed in his PhD on Grand Corruption and explores BC Parks and Restaurants with his family.