Reem Zaia is a lawyer practising in the Advocacy Department of Gowling WLG's Ottawa office. Her litigation experience includes professional liability, constitutional, national security, criminal/white collar crime and administrative law matters. She also advises on privacy and government relations files.
Reem has experience defending accused persons in the administrative and regulatory spheres, as well as the criminal justice system. She has served as counsel at all levels of court in Ontario, including the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Justice, as well as matters before the Supreme Court of Canada. She has also appeared before various administrative bodies such as the College or Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Her work regularly involves files where there are allegations of sexual impropriety (civil, criminal or quasi-criminal). She also has experience with corporate investigation mandates. Prior to joining Gowling WLG, Reem practiced criminal and regulatory law at a prominent boutique litigation firm in Toronto.
In 2022-2023, Reem served as the Director of Policy and Legal Affairs for Canada’s Public Safety Minister. In this role, she worked closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Services, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Parole Board of Canada. She led various legislative reforms and advised on complex class actions and litigation matters. Before joining the legal profession, Reem worked on Parliament Hill for two Members of Parliament, including the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. As a result of this time in government, Reem has a strong understanding of policy, operations and government relations at the federal level.
In 2023, Reem was awarded the County of Carleton Law Association’s Regional Senior Justice Award. This annual award recognizes one individual, who has practised for 10 years or less, for making an "outstanding contribution as a litigator or as a solicitor within the profession through their excellence as a professional, as well as outside the profession by making an outstanding contribution to the community."
Reem is currently a part time Professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Her areas of specialty include criminal, national security and constitutional law. She is the co-founder of “Extremism in Canada”, an upper year seminar course at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law focused on national security law, hate speech and the terrorism related provisions, among related matters. Her scholarship in these areas can be found in the University of Toronto Law Journal, UBC Law Review, Criminal Law Quarterly, Canadian Criminal Law Review, and several other journals.
Reem is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she received her LL.M. as the Nathan Strauss Q.C. Fellow in Constitutional Law and published a thesis on the information-sharing provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. While completing her Master's degree, she practiced constitutional and administrative law at the appellate level.
Reem obtained her law degree from the University of Ottawa. During her studies, she clerked for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice and served as law clerk to the Honourable Justice Charles Vaillancourt in the matter of Senator Michael Duffy. She then completed her articles at the Ontario Crown Attorney's Office.