Reem Zaia Associate

Speaks:  English, French, Arabic

Year of Call: 2016 - Ontario

Primary phone: +1 613-786-0232

Fax: +1 613-563-9869


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Primary office:  Ottawa

Reem Zaia

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.

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:
  • 2023

    • Rankings & Awards
      Regional Senior Justice Award
  • 2022

    • Career
      Director of Policy and Legal Affairs to Canada's Public Safety Minister
  • 2017

    • Education
      University of Toronto, LLM (Nathan Strauss Q.C. Fellowship in Canadian Constitutional Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law)
  • 2016

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      Year of Call, Ontario
  • 2015

    • Education
      University of Ottawa, JD
  • 2014

    • Rankings & Awards
      Best Overall Advocate in the Sopinka Cup, one of Canada's most prestigious bilingual moots
  • 2011

    • Education
      University of Ottawa, B.Soc. (Hons.)


  • Fellow, Philippe Kirsch Institute
  • Advocates' Society
  • Golden Key International Honour Society
  • County of Carleton Law Association
  • Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS) - Non-academic affiliate


Of Unreasonable Searches and Seizures: A Blueprint for a Constitutional Challenge to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. University of Toronto, Graduate Repository of Theses


Forensic Psychiatry and the Extremist: A Review of Recent Violence Risk Assessment Tools for Offenders Convicted of Terrorism Offences. Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (No. 18-04) Working Paper Series

Guilty by a Nose: The Queen v Riesberry and the Criminalization of Horse Doping in Canada, 2018 28(1) Marquette Sports L Rev

Access to State Secrets in Terrorism Prosecutions: A Case Comment on R v Alizadeh and the Structures of Third Party Disclosure, (2017) 75 U.T. Fac. L. Rev. 129

Mental Health Experts in Terrorism Cases: Reclaiming the Status of Rehabilitation as a Sentencing Principle, 2017 64(4) Criminal Law Quarterly 548

Awakening Section 8 in Wakeling: Legal Implications on Wiretap Intercepts, Intelligence Sharing and Beyond, 2017 50(1) UBC Law Review 197

On Pardons and Miscarriages of Justice: Extracting and Dissecting Institutional Bias from the Conviction Review Framework in Canada, 2016 49(2) UBC Law Review 835

The Queen v. Demetrious Walker: A Cautionary Tale About Guilty Pleas and Sentencing in Absentia, 2015 19 Canadian Criminal Law Review 253

  • Co-published with Brian Manarin, Assistant Crown Attorney, Windsor, ON

The Evaluation of Expert Testimony in Dangerous Offenders Applications: A Judge's Guide to Psychological and Psychiatric Evidence Born out of Clinical and Actuarial Assessments

  • Co-published with Brian Manarin, Assistant Crown Attorney, Windsor, ON
  • 2014 Canadian Association of Provincial Judges E-Newsletter


Workshop on Criminal Justice Approaches to Preventing, Detecting and Responding to Homegrown Terrorism

  • Presenting Canada's approach to prevention and detection in Valetta, Malta on April 25 and 26, 2018
  • Hosted by the Global Counterterrorism Forum and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law at the University of Malta

Annual Criminology Society Conference: Crime-Security Nexus (York University)

  • Presented LL.M. thesis on the Security of Canada Sharing Information Act before the student body and scholars (January 2018)

Reforming Criminal Justice and National Security Symposium (University of Toronto Law School)

  • Presented scholarship on sentencing for terrorism before professors and members of the bar (May 2017)