Emilie Taman:
Named One of Canada's 25 Most Influential Lawyers


This is part of Northern Notables, a collection of interviews with NSS Alumni who have made an impact in their personal and professional lives.

by Sam Laskaris

For many people it takes a lot of nerve to get up and speak in front of others. Emilie Taman, NSS'96, believes the public speaking skills she honed while at Northern helped her throughout her career. A former federal Crown prosecutor, Taman is now an employment law litigator with Champ Law in Ottawa. She’s also a human rights advocate, educator and community organizer.
Taman has also run as a candidate in three federal elections. During her last run for office (2019), Taman, who was the NDP candidate, placed second behind the winning Liberal candidate in Ottawa Centre riding.
During her final year at Northern, Taman served as the President of the Student Affairs Council (SAC). “Student council was a BIG part of my life,” said Taman. “I think those experiences – getting in front of people – helped me.” 
Interview continues below
Taman (second from right) with close friends from Northern in the 1990s
Taman was also involved with several other extracurricular activities while at Northern. She was part of the Buddies program, which sees senior students providing mentorship to younger students. She was involved with Northern’s United Way committee. And she was extremely committed to the school’s music program as a member of the jazz band, orchestra and concert band. She played both the flute and alto sax.
Taman's partner is Michael Spratt, a criminal defence lawyer in Ottawa. The couple co-hosts The Docket, a podcast that focuses on issues at the intersection of law, politics and policy. In the widely listened-to podcast they explain and offer their thoughts on complex and controversial legal issues. As their official podcast site says: "What happens in our courts and the halls of power affects you." Taman and Spratt have three children.
Thinking back to her Northern days brings a smile to Taman’s face.

“I have a lot of fond memories of the assemblies,” she said. “Teachers would always get involved. They embodied the school spirit.” One teacher who was a huge influence on Taman was Harold Lass, who taught her Grade 9 English. Lass was one of those teachers who vividly believed in the intelligence of young people. He challenged students with his choice of books, bringing his playful, clear-minded energy to complex themes and ideas.
He introduced us to Kurt Vonnegut ... and some out-of-the-box things for a 14-year-old.
–  Emilie Taman speaking about Harold Lass, NSS English Teacher
Another high school highlight for Taman came during her Grade 11 year when she travelled to Tübingen, Germany for a spring exchange. It was an eye opening trip. Germany in so many ways, as a country, expresses a steadfast optimism – a place with a complicated history, East and West Germany had recently unified, and at the time the country was already having serious conversations about a green transformation, a solid 20 years ahead of Canada. Tübingen is an architecturally stunning medieval city in the southwest of Germany, lying at the confluence of three rivers. A university town with an industrial spirit, one can imagine Tübingen being a fertile place for Taman to reflect on both the Canadian and European experience.
After her Northern days, Taman wound up at Montreal’s McGill University, where she studied biochemistry and political science. She later graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 2004. She was called to the bar in Ontario two years later. 

Taman began her career as a law clerk for the Ontario Court of Appeal, has appeared before every level of court in the province, and has been a law professor at the University of Ottawa. A few years ago she was bestowed with a prestigious honour, named one of the country’s top 25 most influential lawyers by Canadian Law Magazine (2018).


Interviewer, Sam Laskaris, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and joined the NSSF board in early 2021. His wife Kathryn (Defries) and their two sons, Michael and Adam, are Northern alumni. Sam has been a long-time supporter of Northern where his sons were key contributors to the school’s drama and athletic programs.