Profiles

Claudia Arrieta

BA 2015

Lawyer
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)

Biography

Claudia graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2015. She completed a major in international studies, with a concentration in security and conflict. While at SFU, she was an active member of the International Studies Student Association, starting as a member at large and finishing her tenure as President. She was also a recipient of the Dr. Alfredo Hurtado Scholarship and, in 2014, she travelled to Montenegro to participate in Model NATO.

Her experiences at SIS taught Claudia to think critically, to start negotiating before you get to the negotiating table, and to lead with authenticity.

After SFU, Claudia completed her Juris Doctor at UBC. While in law school, she volunteered at the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program. She represented clients in Small Claims Court, before the Immigration and Refugee Board, and before the BC Human Rights Tribunal. She also travelled to the Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene First Nations to participate in circuit court.

Claudia was called to the bar in 2018 and has been practicing insurance defence in-house at ICBC since then. She can often be found at the Supreme Court of British Columbia, arguing in Chambers or assisting senior counsel at trial. Claudia cannot wait to conduct her first trial as a “first chair”. She is certain the skills she learned at SFU will play their role in helping her become the best lawyer she can be.

Melissa VanderHouwen

BA (Hons) 2011

Associate Lawyer
Moore Edgar Lyster LLP

Biography

After completing a double major in International Studies (Honours) and Economics, Melissa VanderHouwen attended law school at the University of Ottawa. She now practices at a progressive labour, employment, and human rights law firm in Vancouver, where she provides advocacy to unions regarding a wide variety of labour matters, and advice and representation to non-unionized employees on many workplace issues.

Melissa also has a particular interest in advising and advocating for unions and individuals on a variety of human rights issues. Her interest in human rights was kindled during her time at the School for International Studies, where she was given the opportunity to explore conflict, inequality, and injustice on a global scale. She now advocates for clients in human rights matters as part of her daily work, and draws regularly from what she learned at SFU.

Her time in the International Studies program taught her to think critically about the information we receive, the narratives we are given about people’s stories, the gaps in knowledge we have about the truth, and the nebulous nature of what “justice” means. Much of her legal practice involves telling people’s stories in a way that will be persuasive to an adjudicator, and seeking to enforce their rights in a deeply flawed legal system. Melissa draws heavily on the perspective she developed at SFU to advocate for her clients’ rights, and to push for equality and justice.

Melissa’s legal practice can be found here.