LLB (Windsor), LLM (Osgoode), of the Bar of Ontario
Paula McGirr is a senior lawyer at Legal Aid Ontario’s Family Law Centre.
Ms. McGirr is a graduate of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and has been
practicing family law since 1990. From 1995 to 1998, she pursued on a part time basis a
Master’s Degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution at Osgoode Hall Law School. Ms.
McGirr was in private practice until 2003, at which time she joined the Family Law
Office of Legal Aid Ontario (now the Family Law Service Centre-North Toronto). Ms.
McGirr provides private legal representation to family law clients in receipt of legal aid
certificates. Ms. McGirr takes on some of the most difficult family law problems around,
tending to represent individuals whose legal issues are too complicated to be handled by
the private bar on legal aid certificates under the existing legal aid tariffs.
A significant number of Ms. McGirr’s cases involve immigrants and litigants with mental
health issues, both as clients and as unrepresented opposing parties. In addition, she most
frequently represents individuals who are survivors of spousal or partner abuse. Her
practice encompasses both domestic and child welfare matters, at every court level from
the Ontario Court of Justice to the Court of Appeal of Ontario. Ms. McGirr also conducts
child welfare mediations in Newmarket at the Legal Aid office there and provides agency
representation in family law matters for the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
Ms. McGirr was a board member of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic from
2003 to 2010 and a board member of the Family Lawyers’ Association for many years.
She is presently a board member of the Brock Early Years Centre and sits on the Policy
Committee of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Ms. McGirr is also a
member of the 47 Sheppard Court Education Committee, the 311 Jarvis Court Education
Committee and the North York Family Court Bench and Bar Executive. As well, Ms.
McGirr is a frequent speaker at numerous external legal continuing education programs,
such as at the Law Society of Upper Canada, as well as in the community at large. She
has authored a number of papers regarding family law issues. Ms. McGirr is also a
frequent speaker at Ontario Family Judges’ Conferences and at National Family Judges’
Ms. McGirr is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she
teaches an upper year law course in child protection law. She is also an instructor in the
joint Osgoode Hall/Legal Aid Ontario/Children’s Aid Society externship program for law
students. Ms. McGirr also instructs and/or speaks at other professional programs such as
the Intensive Child Welfare Institute and Legal Aid Ontario’s various continuing legal
education programs. Ms. McGirr was nominated for the Sidney Linden Award in 2014
and 2015. She is the articling principal in her office and has and continues to spend
countless hours mentoring new lawyers. While in private practice, Ms. McGirr also
worked as and trained duty counsel and for many years volunteered her time as a family
court referee (mediator) at the Ontario Court of Justice in Scarborough, prior to the
dissolution of that program.