Joanna Birenbaum is a litigator specializing in equality and human rights, professional discipline and regulation, administrative/public law, employment law and domestic violence and sexual assault law. Called to the bar in 1998, Joanna’s practice has included Aboriginal and treaty rights litigation, constitutional test case litigation, and policy development, training and advocacy relating to access to justice for marginalized groups.
Joanna is counsel for the University of Manitoba, National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NRCTR), in Fontaine et al v. Canada et al on the question of whether the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) records of Indian Residential School survivors will be destroyed or securely archived by Canada or the NRCTR (the Indigenous Archive).
Joanna has appeared at all levels of Court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Her most recent Supreme Court advocacy includes acting as counsel for the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in R. v. Quesnelle 2014 SCC 46 (involving the criminal code regime to protect the private records of sexual assault complainants) and the Canadian Association for Community Living in R. v. Nur; R. v. Charles (Charter challenge to mandatory minimum sentencing).
Joanna is a 2014-2015 McMurtry Clinical Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School.
She is also adjunct faculty at Osgoode, teaching Gender, Equality and the Law. She has lectured and published in the areas of equality rights and violence against women.
Her recent publications include: Joanna Birenbaum, Kelly Gallagher Mackay, “From Equal Access to Individual Exit: The Invisibility of Systemic Discrimination in Moore” (2013) 10 JL & Equality 93-112; and Joanna Birenbaum, Isabel Grant, “Taking Threats Seriously: s.264.1 Threats as a Form of Domestic Violence” (2012) 59 Criminal Law Quarterly 206-236