New managing partner at Shibley Righton LLP’s Windsor office


Sheila MacKinnon, a public law lawyer who first joined Shibley Righton LLP more than 30 years ago, has been named managing partner of the firm’s Windsor office.

MacKinnon’s practice ranges from education and public law to labour and employment matters.

The change comes as the Honourable J. Paul R. Howard, the office’s former managing partner and MacKinnon’s husband, was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last year.

In the early years of MacKinnon's legal practice, she specialized in the areas of corporate-commercial law and income tax planning and litigation. As well, for many years, MacKinnon gained practical business experience as the operator and manager of her family-owned retirement home business in Essex County.

She then returned to practising law part-time in the education law group while running the retirement home.

MacKinnon and Howard moved as a family to Windsor after spending time practising in Shibley's Toronto office and formally opened the Windsor Office of Shibley Righton in 2001, she says. The Windsor location now has 13 lawyers serving clients in various areas of law.

MacKinnon branched out from what was initially her primary practices of commercial and corporate law and began practising civil litigation, which included acting for what was then the Toronto Board of Education, she tells

“I was in the litigation group and we were acting for that client, then we started doing more and more of what we now call education law for many Ontario school boards,” MacKinnon says.

Now MacKinnon and the firm take on “administrative law,” sub-specializing in special education and human rights law for school boards, “and just generally any legal advice a school board may need.”

Naturally, MacKinnon started to gravitate toward conducting more work with the Ontario Public School Boards Association, which advocates for public education. She provides professional development for elected trustees in the areas of conflict of interest, privacy law, parliamentary procedure, and general board governance.

MacKinnon also chairs the Board of Governors at the University of Windsor and is the past chairwoman of the United Communities Credit Union, now the Libro Credit Union.

“Through my own extracurricular activities, I’ve learned governance procedures,” she says. “I’ve learned all the skills of being a chair and running a meeting, and now I speak at conferences at the Ontario Public School Boards Association on the development and amendment of corporate and school board bylaws and governing policies."

Established in 1964, Shibley Righton LLP is a full-service law firm with offices located in Toronto, Windsor and Hamilton.

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