CLF Staff & SUPPORT TEAM
Derek B.M. Ross (Executive Director)
Derek B.M. Ross, LL.B., LL.M., is the Executive Director of Christian Legal Fellowship. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario where he was the recipient of several mooting and academic awards. After articling with a leading firm specializing in charity law, he was called to the Ontario Bar in 2008, and subsequently accepted a fellowship with the University of Toronto to pursue graduate legal studies in constitutional law and private legal theory, leading to a Master of Laws degree in 2009.
From 2009 to 2012, Derek practiced civil litigation in London, Ontario, where he acted for a number of public and educational institutions, municipalities, and elected officials, appearing before numerous tribunals and levels of court. He then joined the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, Canada’s largest association of Christian charities, to serve as its Director of Legal Affairs. In that role, Derek served as co-counsel in CCCC’s interventions, including Loyola. He also served on CRA’s Technical Issues Working Group and as the editor of the Charities Handbook, 19th Edition (2014), a comprehensive legal guide for Canadian ministries.
A member of CLF since his first year of law school, Derek has always believed that a lawyer’s faith has an important role to play in their vocational pursuit of justice. As CLF’s Executive Director, Derek works to support and equip Christians called to the practice and study of law, and continues to focus his practice on the intersection of law and religion. He has served as CLF’s litigation co-counsel in seven interventions, including two at the Supreme Court of Canada (Carter II and Ktunaxa), and three before provincial Courts of Appeal (TWU in Nova Scotia, B.C., and Ontario). He has appeared before every level of court in Ontario, as well as B.C.’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
Derek is an Executive Member of the Charity and Not-for-Profit Law Sections of both the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association, and has spoken at a number of CBA/OBA conferences on constitutional and charity law. He is editor-in-chief of the Christian Legal Journal and his writings have been featured in a number of publications, including: Policy Options, Law Matters (Canadian Bar Association), The Chronicle Herald, The Lawyers’ Weekly, and Christian Week.
Derek spent his formative years growing up in Port Hedland, Australia, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Pilbara Outback, and considers himself a Quasi-Aussie (he can still speak fluent Australian, if you ask him). As much as he loves his second Aussie home, he couldn’t be prouder to be a Canadian (and a Canadiens fan). His true loves, though, are his wife Alison, and their twin sons who, while only 3, are already burgeoning blanket-fort architects/furniture acrobats.
You can find Derek on Twitter @derekbmross.
Timothy Stonhouse (Regional Director - Western Canada)
Timothy Stonhouse has practiced criminal and family law for over 22 years. He articled with a well-known criminal firm in Edmonton and then opened his own office. Tim is trained as a mediator and collaborative family lawyer. He was a presiding Justice of the Peace in Edmonton for 10 years. Beginning his working career as a teacher in a private, Christian school, Tim served as a board member and finally as president of the Association of Christian Schools and Colleges of Alberta where he contributed to the drafting of the School Act in the 1980’s.
Tim has always had an interest in politics and government. He has served on social action groups in various churches, has travelled to Ottawa to petition M.P.’s in the area of the rights of private schools and served on various municipal committees and election campaigns. Tim has been a member of Christian Legal Fellowship since the early 1990’s, serving on the board for several years. As CLF's Regional Director for Western Canada, Tim meets with Christian lawyers, judges and law students, encouraging them to integrate their faith with their practice and study of the law. He also assists local churches with legal issues whenever possible.
Calvin Beresh (Director of Student Ministries)
Calvin Beresh graduated with a B.A. from Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1975 before obtaining his LL.B from Western University in 1978. During his final year at law school, he hosted the student law conference at Western during which the Christian Legal Fellowship was founded and was a member of the steering committee for incorporation of CLF.
With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an even stronger desire to take Christ into everyone's world, he began his own law practice in 1980. He joined with another CLF member, Ashley R. Gnys, and, together, they took over a practice established in 1894 to form the firm of Sharpe, Beresh & Gnys in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The firm now has three lawyers and fifteen support staff. Mr. Beresh's practice emphasis is on Wills, Estates and Wealth Management.
Mr. Beresh has a passion to share his vision of the practice of law as a ministry particularly to students. He enjoys meeting with law students across the country.
Rev. Reid Cooke (Chaplain)
Rev. Reid Cooke served as senior pastor for 35 years. He now serves as Chaplain with Christian Legal Fellowship. In this role, he is blessed to be able to connect
with Christian lawyers and law students who desire to pursue excellence in their walk with Christ, through their profession. He does this through personal and confidential Biblical counsel, conference speaking, devotionals at CLF chapters, and travel to law schools from coast to coast.
Reid studied at Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale University College, Toronto) graduating with his Bachelor of Theology. He completed a second degree through Mount Allison and Waterloo University.
Reid is married to Esther, musician and worship leader. Reid and Esther pastored in New Brunswick for 19 years, moving to Redeemer Bible Church in Niagara Falls in 1991, where they enjoyed 16 years of ministry.
Reid and Esther reside in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where they enjoy sailing their boat on Lake Ontario. They love to share this experience with others as often as possible. They have a son (with his wife and 2 grandsons) who lives in Austria, and a married daughter, in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Shawn Knights (Student Ministries Support)
Shawn Knights is an Associate with Beresh Smith Professional Corporation focusing his practice on civil litigation, estate litigation and family law. Prior to joining Beresh Smith Professional Corporation, Shawn served as corporate counsel for a large corporation and as an associate at a personal injury law firm in the Niagara area. Shawn earned his Juris Doctor at Osgoode Hall Law School where he completed the Criminal Intensive program. He also completed the Litigation, Dispute Resolution and the Administration of Justice curricular stream.
Shawn serves on the board of the Welland County Law Association and St. John’s Ambulance – Niagara Falls Branch. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Lincoln County Law Association. Prior to law school, Shawn was a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the Canadian Forces for four years and he worked as a political assistant at Queen’s Park for eight years. During law school, Shawn was very involved in his school community as a member of the Osgoode Christian Legal Fellowship and the Black Students Association. Shawn is a father of 3 children and husband to his beautiful and much wiser wife Myrtho.
board of directors
Robert Reynolds (President)
Robert Reynolds graduated from Bishop’s University in 1965 with an Honours B.A. in French and Philosophy (magnis cum honoribus). He received a Bachelor of Civil Law degree from McGill University’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He was admitted to the Bar of Quebec in 1969, and has practiced law in Quebec since that date. He has maintained a general practice with a special interest in freedom of religion and other fundamental freedoms. He has pleaded before all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Reynolds is married to Judy and is the father of three daughters and three grandchildren. He is a teaching elder at Faith Community Bible Church in Beaconsfield, Quebec. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, and has been the President of the Board of Christian Legal Fellowship since September 2013.
Shawn Smith (Vice-President)
Shayna Beeksma (Secretary)
Shayna A. Beeksma is a civil litigation lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, practising law with ESB Lawyers LLP. Her practice focuses on commercial litigation, estate litigation and professional liability. Shayna is an effective advocate, having appeared before all levels of court in Ontario and regularly appearing before the Superior Court of Justice. She summered and articled at a prominent Bay Street law firm in Toronto prior to being called to the Ontario Bar in 2012. Shayna sets herself apart to her clients by not only being skilled at the art of advocacy but by also being dependable, practical, and strategic
Timothy Sinnott (Treasurer)
Philip Fourie, B.L.C., LL.B., M.Env.Mgmt. (Dist.), is a Partner with Kirkby and Fourie Law Firm in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Philip is a former Military Judge, federal crown prosecutor, Government legal advisor, and Governor of The Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association. Philip serves on the Board of Directors of several charitable organizations and companies including Christian Legal Fellowship, the Foundation for Cross Cultural Education Canada, and Kingsmere Resource Services Inc.. Over the past ten years Philip has acted as litigation counsel in a number of National high-profile public interest constitutional law and administrative law cases. His general practice includes a special emphasis on Real Estate, SGI/No Fault/Tort Insurance, Personal Injury and Wills & Estates, Civil Litigation, and Administrative law. Philip resides in Prince Albert with his wife, Noelene leRoux-Fourie and his three sons, Joel, Jed and Luke.
Jessie Legaree (Student Representative)
Jessie Legaree has been involved with CLF since her first year of undergrad when they held a pre-law conference at Trinity Western University (TWU) in 2006. She holds a BA and MA from TWU and is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Born and raised in BC, Jessie returned home to article at RDM Lawyers LLP, a full-service firm in the Fraser Valley. Jessie has since come on staff as an Associate Lawyer focusing on litigation. In her free time, Jessie loves debating religion and politics. (Side note: she’s not the best dinner guest.)