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Ottawa appoints three judges to Ontario Superior Court’s family court branch

Tuesday, May 07, 2019 @ 2:53 PM | By John Chunn

The federal Department of Justice on May 6 announced the following appointments to support the expansion of Unified Family Courts in Ontario:  

Diana Piccoli, partner at SV Law, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the family court branch and a judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Jennifer Breithaupt Smith, sole practitioner at Breithaupt Law, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the family court branch and a judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Mary Anne Kril, sole practitioner at M.A.K. Family Law, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the family court branch and a judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Justice Piccoli graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1990 with a bachelor of arts degree in English. After obtaining her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa, in May 1993, she articled at a small firm in Kitchener, Ont., and was called to the bar in February 1995. Justice Piccoli returned to the Kitchener firm to start her practice, gaining diverse experience with a variety of family law cases and civil cases involving assaults against children. In 1997, she started working in her hometown of Guelph, Ont., with the firm Valeriote, Valeriote which subsequently merged with Smith Smith in 2001. Justice Piccoli has been a partner at SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP (now called SV Law) since 2001.

According to the Justice Department press release, throughout her career, Justice Piccoli has mentored many young lawyers. She has always been inspired to help others in the community and in her profession. Justice Piccoli has served on a number of boards in her community including Women In Crisis, Family and Children’s Services and the Foundation of the Guelph General Hospital. Children hold a special place in her heart and she was a panel member of the Office of the Children’s lawyer for a number of years. Justice Piccoli’s practice has primarily been focused in the area of family law. She places great importance on family, friends and community and is the proud mother of two amazing young women.

Following her undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, Justice Breithaupt Smith graduated from Western University Law and was called to the bar in 2003. Her early practice at a litigation firm in Waterloo shaped her career. In January of 2007, Breithaupt Smith opened her own firm in Kitchener and joined the Office of the Children’s Lawyer’s panel in 2015. Child-centred family law was her litigation focus.

At the time of her appointment Justice Breithaupt Smith sat on the board of The Advocates’ Society (TAS), where her enthusiasm for professional development started during her time as a student. In 2009, she developed her own Law Society of Upper Canada-accredited programming, and soon thereafter she became education co-ordinator for Waterloo Region’s family law practice group, producing multiple programs annually. Justice Breithaupt Smith co-chaired TAS’ Courthouse Series from 2008 until her appointment, adding a companion Criminal Courthouse Series in 2010. Most recently she is very proud to have been instrumental in developing “Braiding Diversity Into Justice,” the Ontario Justice Education Network’s newest flagship program which seeks to attract diverse young women to law-related careers.

Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is a guiding principle for Justice Breithaupt Smith. She is honoured to have been asked to attend a healing circle for her child clients and to have served as a director of Healing of the Seven Generations, Waterloo Region’s pre-eminent Indigenous cultural healing organization.

Her deep local roots compelled Justice Breithaupt Smith to engage in many community initiatives from chairing a Kitchener City Council Advisory Committee to teaching karate. She and her husband are proud to raise their son in their shared hometown.

Justice Kril is a first-generation Canadian of Ukrainian descent. She did her undergraduate work at Queen’s, graduating with the Gold Medal in Sociology. She went on to earn a master of arts degree and began her PhD studies before deciding that she needed to learn a trade. She chose the law and graduated from the University of Toronto with prizes in administrative and family law and a 3-month-old baby boy. She was awarded the Treasurer’s Medal for the highest standing in the Bar Admission Course and went on to practise commercial litigation with a leading firm in Toronto.

After spending two years at home raising her new baby daughter (now a second year veterinary student at Guelph University), Justice Kril returned to the practice of law in Oakville, Ont., and focused on family law. She remained with O’Connor Macleod Hanna for 17 years before embarking on her own family law practice in 2009. Last year, her son Michael (now a seasoned lawyer in his own right) joined her in forming a new partnership.

Justice Kril has acted as a dispute resolution officer for the Superior Court in Milton since the inception of the program and, in 2016, was the first woman to receive the Award of Excellence from the Halton County Law Association.

Justice Kril lives in Oakville with her husband, the now retired Justice Terrance O’Connor.