View from Galiano Island, B.C.
Photo credit: Chris Tollefson



Former students

“I am very grateful to have had the experience of being a part of the CELL 2023 Spring cohort. CELL provides law students with an invaluable opportunity to explore a variety of what the environmental law field has to offer. The program provides insights into various environmental law topics that gave me a deeper understanding of complex legal issues facing environmental litigants today. Anthony Ho and Professor Tollefson were extremely hardworking and passionate instructors dedicated to providing students with the knowledge, skills, and practical experience necessary to succeed in environmental law and public interest litigation. CELL reminded me why I came to law school and reignited my passion for environmental law. I highly recommend CELL to any law student interested in environmental law or public interest litigation.”

— Sydney Fougere, 2nd year student, 2023 Spring cohort

“CELL was truly the most impactful experience of my first year of law school. Nothing has been more valuable than the exposure I’ve gained to active litigation and the insights behind these cases. The guest speakers were extremely inspiring, and Professor Tollefson and Mr. Ho delivered succinct lectures and facilitated interesting discussions. I am so grateful for this experience, and I look forward to following CELL’s work throughout the rest of my legal career.”

— Elizabeth Collins, 1st year student, 2023 Spring cohort

“As someone interested in practicing environmental law, I was super excited to be a part of CELL’s Fall 2022 cohort. I enjoyed being exposed to a variety of cutting-edge environmental litigation topics each week, learning about the day-to-day of working on these issues from practitioners like Anthony Ho, Professor Tollefson, and many guest speakers. It was great getting to discuss specific points of law, legal philosophies, and judicial attitudes in the context of public interest environmental litigation in a small group setting with like-minded students. I would highly recommend the program to other students! CELL was a highlight of my semester.”

— Allison Bilenkey, 2nd year student, 2022 Fall cohort

“CELL is a great opportunity. CELL canvases a range of cutting-edge issues in environmental litigation that help keep participants on top of recent developments and innovations in environmental law. Anyone from 1L’s to graduate students interested in environmental law can benefit from the program.”

— Drew Yewchuk, LL.M. student, 2022 Fall cohort

“CELL was a formative experience during my time at law school. I developed invaluable legal skills through my exposure to ongoing climate litigation and engagement with novel and complex legal questions. CELL also shaped my long-term career goals, as La Rose v. HMTQ cemented my desire to pursue public interest environmental litigation. I can’t recommend CELL enough to law students who are interested in learning from experienced public interest lawyers and potentially following that path themselves.”

— Michaela Aeberhardt, 3rd year law student, 2022 Spring cohort

“I am very grateful to have participated in CELL this semester. I went into law school knowing that I wanted to pursue environmental law, and getting the chance to immerse myself in current environmental law cases was an invaluable experience, especially during my first year of law school. Through CELL, I was able to expand my substantive knowledge on several areas of law not covered in the first-year curriculum. More importantly, I was able to connect with like-minded peers across Canada and have knowledgeable instructors and student mentors who encouraged sharing ideas and facilitated group discussions. From reading cases to meeting clients and listening to guest lecturers on a variety of environmental topics, CELL made my semester a much more memorable and worthwhile experience.”

— Eric Shapiro, 2nd year law student, 2022 Spring cohort

“Thank you for a great semester with CELL. I had a wonderful experience discussing the various cases with other students from around Canada and most importantly, I gained a far better sense of what is involved with public interest environmental litigation. I find the work you’re doing quite fulfilling and I will pursue the field this summer during my articling search.”

— Harrison Myles, 1st year law student, 2022 Spring cohort

“It has been a fantastic opportunity and I can truly say that it has been a highlight of my legal education. Since I am nearing the end of my law school years, this is one of the experiences that I know I will try to carry forward the most. There is a uniqueness in public interest work that I think very few law students get to experience— this program provides such a rare insight into the importance of this work. The opportunity to meet and discuss some of these issues with the instructors, other lawyers they work alongside, as well as clients is so fantastic. Also, I believe that the students you select show a passion and brightness for this area of the law; it is awesome to be able to meet and interact with other students who share the same passions.”

— Aimee Huntington, 3rd year law student, 2021 Fall cohort
“As a first-year navigating online law school, CELL was an invaluable opportunity to meet like-minded faculty and students across Canada who are invested in tackling climate change through public interest litigation. CELL allowed us to step outside a student mindset and view ground-breaking environmental cases through the lens of practicing lawyers. Thank you, Professor Tollefson and Anthony Ho for investing in this important program and the next generation of public interest litigators!”

— Lydia Young, 1st year law student, 2021 Spring cohort
“Participating in CELL was the highlight of my semester. I enjoyed learning alongside a small group of like-minded peers during the otherwise distant and challenging circumstances of remote learning. In addition, CELL provides a truly unique and unparalleled learning opportunity: to be brought on the real-time journey of climate litigation. Through this learning format, I built substantive legal skills by conducting research and engaging with my fellow cohort members in critical legal analysis. I cannot wait to continue with CELL next semester!”

— Michaela Aeberhardt, 2nd year law student, 2020 Fall cohort
“As a law student who has struggled to find ways to infuse environmental law into the limited curriculum that has been made available to me, Professor Tollefson and Anthony Ho have provided an experience that has filled a persisting educational and practical void. To welcome students from across the country into an environment where they feel that they can bring their skills and effort to bear in a tangible and meaningful way, and be treated as colleagues in doing so, is a true victory for environmental advocacy and education in Canada. Thank you, Professor Tollefson and Anthony, for this fantastic opportunity.”

— Travis Smith, 2nd year law student, 2020 Summer cohort
“Being a part of the 2019-2020 CELL cohort was a highlight of my 1L year! It was such an incredible experience to learn from legal professionals and students who are dedicated to advocating for a stable climate system and advancing Canada’s environmental laws. The experiential learning opportunities that CELL offered were also a great supplement to the 1L Constitutional Law course material and helped me learn more about career options in public interest litigation.”

— Laura Bullock, 1st year law student, 2020 Spring and Summer cohorts
“As a student who recently finished their first year of law school, the opportunity to be involved with CELL has been invaluable to me. Being able to work with a legal team on a piece of current litigation has allowed me to bridge the gap between what I have been learning in the classroom and what it is that a practicing litigator does. The seminars run by Anthony Ho and Chris Tollefson provided me with skills that I know will be useful in my future career and allowed me to take part in a case that may set the tone for the future of environmental justice in Canada. Overall, it was a great experience!”

— Macinly Fram, 1st year law student, 2020 Summer cohort
“Participating in CELL’s experiential learning program was an invaluable way of gaining hands-on experience in public interest environmental law. Anthony Ho and Chris Tollefson facilitate interesting and engaging seminars that provide students with the practical skills and knowledge required for a career in public interest law. It was very exciting to be able to contribute to legal research and preparation for cases that could potentially have very significant impacts and advance environmental justice in Canada. I particularly enjoyed the opportunities to meet and work with plaintiffs in high-profile environmental lawsuits. I look forward to continuing my participation with CELL in future semesters.”

— Julia Roe, 2nd year law student, 2019 Fall cohort
“CELL provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about real-world public interest litigation, including the procedures associated with and strategy behind advancing files. My cohort focused on issues related to administrative law and what is involved in appealing decisions and was exposed to behind-the-scenes discussions for launching La Rose et al. v. Her Majesty The Queen, Canada’s first climate change-related public interest suit. CELL’s format of open and collaborative discussions mixed with more structured lectures served to make important yet complex topics more accessible. Further, CELL provided opportunities to contribute research to assist with ongoing files, all while being sensitive to and respectful of the time constraints of being a law student. In focusing on the practicalities and nuances of litigation, CELL is an invaluable compliment to traditional law school pedagogy.”

— Will Kendon, 3rd year law student, 2019 Fall cohort
“CELL has provided a fantastic opportunity to help bridge the gap between law school and practice. The mandate of the organization is evident to any student working with the organization: students are being trained in litigation skills, ones that are difficult to learn in a classroom setting. I would strongly recommend CELL to any student interested in pursuing not only environmental law but keen to learn more about litigating public law cases.”

— Grace Hermansen, 2nd year law student, 2019 Summer cohort
“My summer with CELL was a great experience because it was both practical and engaging. It was an excellent way to round off my classroom education with a team of encouraging and knowledgeable people. Highlights from my experience with CELL include being part of exciting cases and participating in litigation strategy workshops with lawyers. My summer with CELL helped me improve my legal research writing, and communication skills and cemented my interest in pursuing a career in public interest environmental law. ”

— Richard Wagner, 2nd year law student, 2019 Summer cohort
“As a law student, working with CELL has been an invaluable experience. Being involved in an exciting piece of public interest litigation puts the classroom work in perspective. In addition to providing practical knowledge about how to run a case, CELL has reminded me of what initially drew me to study law and reassured me that it is possible to do the work I’d like to do. Thank you, CELL, for inspiring and equipping me to be the sort of lawyer I would like to be.”

— Liam McGuigan, 2nd year law student, 2018 Fall cohort
“As a first-year law student, I have been hugely grateful for the opportunity to be involved with CELL. The type of work that CELL undertakes is precisely what drew me towards a legal education. Through CELL, I have gained a better understanding of the complexities inherent to environmental and public interest litigation, which is an invaluable experience to take forward in my education and career. CELL has enriched my first-year learning with ongoing, complex cases that apply and expand upon the fundamentals of the general first-year curriculum. I hope to continue working with CELL for the duration of my time in law school.”

— Lauren Mar, 1st year law student, 2018 Fall cohort
“As a student with CELL this term, I gained valuable experience working on an environmental litigation file. I was involved in many aspects of the litigation process: I took part in discussions with lawyers, conducted research on legal issues relevant to ongoing litigation, and assisted with the preparation of documents. The opportunity to gain practical experience and conduct work with important real-world implications while in law school was an incredibly valuable experience for me. CELL offers the opportunity to work on some of the most important environmental cases in Canada. I would strongly recommend CELL to any student who is interested in gaining litigation experience and learning more about public interest environmental law.”

— Andrew Mendelson, 2nd year law student, 2017 Fall cohort
“I completed a three-month internship with CELL after my first year of law school. The experience allowed me to explore my interest in environmental law, and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to practice in the field of public interest litigation.

During my internship, I took advantage of the many mentorship and experiential learning opportunities offered by CELL. This provided an inclusive and supportive setting in which I was able to participate in different legal tasks and activities. Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho are great about including law students in meetings and conference calls, which was a great way to learn about their field of practice and witness the different types of work that environmental lawyers are engaged in.

I would encourage anyone interested in environmental law to take the opportunity to work with CELL, as they are currently working on a number of the most exciting environmental and climate change cases in Canada.”

— Christina Clemente, 2nd year law student, 2017 Summer cohort
“I had the opportunity to intern with the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation for three months following my first year of law school. During this time, I was able to gain experience working on large-scale public interest environmental cases as they moved through the litigation process. Being able to work in a collaborative team with students from other Canadian law schools under the supervision of experienced lawyers was an incredibly rewarding experience.

I was able to develop my legal research and writing skills and receive feedback on them while drafting court documents and preparing legal memoranda. For the first time in my legal education, I was also able to gain hands-on experience with litigation. As an intern at CELL, I was able to be directly involved in the litigation process and learn from both observing and participating in the drafting of legal arguments, meetings with clients, and Federal Court hearings. To be able to gain this practical experience this early in my legal education and to be able to do so while working on national environmental cases has been an incredibly beneficial and fun experience. I am excited to draw on what I have learned this summer as I continue my studies, and I am incredibly grateful to CELL for this opportunity. ”

— Maddie Macdonald, 2nd year law student, 2017 Summer cohort
“During the Spring semester, I had the opportunity to work with CELL on their environmental litigation files. I was able to obtain practical legal experience and learn firsthand from practicing lawyers. Chris and Anthony are very knowledgeable and work hard to promote a collaborative and educational environment. The learning experience was so beneficial, that I volunteered my time over the summer months to assist in their ongoing judicial review application. I would highly recommend this opportunity to other students looking to develop their legal skills and get a better understanding of working in the courts.”

— Jeff Drozdiak, 2nd year law student, 2017 Spring & 2017 Summer cohorts
“Volunteering with CELL was among the most rewarding experiences I had during law school. The organization provides students with a unique opportunity to meaningfully participate in complex public interest litigation, while at the same time giving them access to the tremendous mentorship and support of CELL staff. Chris and Anthony go to great lengths to make students feel included in strategically important litigation decisions and help students develop legal skills by letting them draft submissions and interview clients. I would highly recommend CELL to anyone looking for practical environmental litigation experience.”

— Matthew Palmer, 3rd year law student, 2017 Spring cohort
“Participating as a student with CELL was a memorable and invaluable experience. I had the opportunity to work closely with experts in environmental law on exciting and cutting-edge files. Rarely do law students get the chance to contribute meaningfully to litigation files during their academic work. CELL allowed me not only to contribute in such a way but also to lend support to matters that I believe are crucial to humanity’s shared future.”

— Ashley Thomas, 3rd year law student, 2017 Spring cohort
“I immensely enjoyed being a part of the CELL team through the UVic Environmental Law Centre. This project gave me practical experience beyond what many other courses have given me and exposed me to some intriguing and important areas of the law. I felt that my opinions and my efforts were valued and that I helped contribute to a crucial public interest cause that I now have much more cognizance of than before I started this project. On several occasions during my involvement with CELL, I stepped back and thought ‘Wow, I never thought I would be working on projects as novel and captivating as this.'”

— Mike Schryver, 3rd year law student, 2017 Spring cohort
“As a law student volunteering with CELL, I had the opportunity to experience public interest litigation firsthand. I was able to attend meetings with other lawyers and get experience in drafting various parts of a legal action. CELL offered me a similar experience to working in a private law firm but with infinitely more support from the supervising lawyers who treat you as peers and offer you a seat at the table. CELL is by far the best way to get hands-on litigation experience in law school while contributing to ground-breaking legal actions.”

— Alex Ciccone, 3rd year law student, 2016 Fall cohort
“Working with CELL this past semester presented the incredible opportunity to learn how to assess large bodies of evidence and to develop legal arguments while receiving continued feedback from experienced lawyers. CELL also allowed me to collaborate with and learn from bright colleagues who share a passion for environmental law. Overall, CELL’s training left me feeling like I had produced worthwhile work that, along with my colleagues, would make practical contributions to a client’s case. I couldn’t recommend this program more to students who are looking to gain practical experience in the field of environmental and administrative law.”

— Caitlin Stockwell, 2nd year law student, 2016 Fall cohort


“I have worked closely with Chris and his students (e.g. Anthony Ho) over the last five years on environmental issues including the Joint Review Panel review processes for the Northern Gateway and the NEB’s review process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The work that they have done has been outstanding. Their cross-examination was critical to improving the quality of the evidence that the government relied on and the integrity of the review process. Their work has also contributed to the education of both their students and others who have used their research in courses on impact assessment and project review. The CELL concept (training, mentoring, interdisciplinary teamwork) builds on the work Chris and Anthony have been doing and will make an invaluable contribution to improving education and public policy decisions.”

— Dr. Thomas Gunton, Professor & Director of Resource and Environmental Planning Program, Simon Fraser University
“The concept of building environmental law precedents, and harnessing the energy and passion of law students has a powerful and effective tradition. CELL is building on a strong team and track record from Chris and Anthony, and will fill a real need within British Columbia and Canada. This is a timely and important venture, and I welcome the new organization. It will be exciting to watch them serve the public interest and grow.”

— Gregory J. McDade, Q.C., Ratcliff & Company LLP
“The growing power of profit-driven corporations to cause irreversible harm to our environment needs to be held in check, and governments can no longer be allowed to bend over backward to aid them. CELL is a team of battle-tested litigators committed to training the next generation of idealistic young lawyers to carry on the fight for a clean and healthy environment.”

— William Deverell, Canadian novelist, activist, and criminal lawyer

Testimonials from clients of cases used in CELL’s educational program

“Thank you all for the terrific work you and others have been doing over the past two or three months. And thank you, Anthony, for all the hard work you have done to produce a first-rate legal opinion. I deeply appreciate the hard work and the outstanding skill, knowledge, and commitment that you all have been contributing. Thank you. And please express my appreciation to the students for their good work.

I am very glad you are there and doing what you do. You are a BC treasure.”

— Kathleen Ruff, human rights & anti-asbestos activist
“Over the last 2 years, when I was President of BC Nature, from May 2014 to May 2016, as well as during the year before that, as Vice-President, I worked closely with both Prof. Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho. We cooperated and communicated on a wide number of issues, such as Roberts Bank, LNG, other important environmental cases, and in particular on the Northern Gateway and the Trans Mountain pipeline projects. They have consistently provided BC Nature with timely and high-quality advice and assistance on press releases, at public meetings, and in developing and implementing litigation strategies. Last fall, Prof. Tollefson and Mr. Ho represented BC Nature in a complex and high-profile court challenge to the Cabinet’s decision to approve the Northern Gateway project. Their work in preparation for and oral submissions to the Federal Court of Appeal was highly professional and effective. BC Nature is grateful for their efforts, and we look forward to continuing to work with Chris, Anthony, and the CELL legal team.”

— Dr. Cornelis Visser, Former President of BC Nature
“Chris Tollefson and Anthony Ho embrace the challenge of issues brought to them and provide clear advice. They are very approachable and made the legal process less intimidating as their door was always open to support client needs. They explain the law in simple terms so that the ordinary citizen feels empowered to take action. I would recommend this team for those who are concerned about an environmental issue but don’t know the legal process.”

— Elisabeth Stannus, Kitimat school teacher