Sayeh Hassan graduated from law school at the University of Ottawa in 2006 and was called to the Bar in 2007. She articled with Walter Fox & Associates, a boutique criminal defence firm in Toronto, where she was hired on as an associate and continued her criminal defence career for 13 years, before joining the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Sayeh has experience in all levels of court in Ontario where she has conducted countless bail hearings, preliminary hearings, guilty pleas, Charter applications and trials. She also has experience as a per-diem Crown prosecutor in bail court.
Sayeh is passionate about civil liberties and access to justice and has been published widely on criminal law issues impacting the socioeconomically disadvantaged and marginalized individuals in society. She has testified before the Parliamentary Committee for Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-75, focusing her submissions on the impact of the elimination of preliminary hearings on marginalized individuals. She recently published her first book “A Practitioner’s Guide To Preparing and Presenting Bail Hearings” a step by step guide on conducting successful bail hearings, bail reviews and bail pending appeals.
In her spare time Sayeh is heavily involved with mentorship programs in the legal community including Law Practice Program Mentorship Program and the First-Generation Mentorship Program. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Lawyer’s Association and volunteers in the community through the Ontario Justice Education Network, where she speaks to at risk youth about Charter Rights and the Ontario Human Rights Act.
Interviews/Quoted in the Media
- Federal Court finds mandatory hotel quarantine constitutional | Law Times
- Justice Centre suing federal government over requirement for travellers to quarantine at designated hotels | Edmonton Journal
- Quarantine hotels on trial as Federal Court hears constitutional challenge of COVID restrictions | National Post
- Trudeau government invoked cabinet secrecy on COVID quarantine hotel decision, shielding it even from court | National Post
- My Night in a Canadian Quarantine Hotel - The New York Times
- Lockdown Measures Are Hurting Churches, Congregants - The Epoch Times
- Canadian Rights Watchdog Challenges Gov't COVID Lockdown Rules, Lawyer Points at Freedoms Violations - Sputnik News
Q & A
What has been your most significant moment or experience so far?
Having the opportunity to argue the hotel quarantine case has been my most significant experience at the Justice Centre so far. It has been both gratifying and humbling to be able to challenge the constitutionality of a government measure that have impacted thousands of Canadians.
If it is your day off, what are you most likely doing for rest and fun.
Picking one of many lovely neighborhoods in Toronto to walk around and re-discover with my husband, taking a day trip to one of the small towns nearby, some of my favourites are St. Jacobs, Elora and Paris. Reading on my gigantic chair/swing in my balcony, I’ve been exploring Russian classics for the past two years and am loving it, for some light reading David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson are my go tos.
Did you always want to be a (lawyer) when you grew up?
I have wanted to be a lawyer from my early teen years when I learned about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I was born in Iran right after the revolution and the start of Iran-Iraq war. My family had to flee Iran when I was 7 years old and we lived in Turkey as refugees for five years before making Canada our home. I have witnessed first hand what happens to a society and it’s people when rule of law is not followed and human rights are not respected. Unfortunately, this is the case in many countries around the world even today. Learning about the Charter made me realize how fortunate we are to be Canadians and live in a country where our basic rights and freedoms are protected. I became a lawyer to protect those rights and have been fortunate to be able to do so first as a criminal defence lawyer and now as a Charter litigator.
What's your best advice for new lawyers who are trying to decide if they would be a good fit for constitutional law?
I always advise students to follow their passion, usually the rest will work itself out as long as we are true to ourselves and follow a path that has meaning for us. This is true for any area of law or any other career path.