Alton aims to promote positive change and modernization in the justice system
Seasoned in the justice system, former general counsel at the Workplace Safety & Insurance Appeals Tribunal, Michelle Alton took her skills to the Ministry of the Attorney General as assistant Crown attorney in Sept. 2022. In this role, she takes responsibility for prosecuting criminal matters arising under the Criminal Code, and frequently has the opportunity to go to court.
After leaving administrative tribunal WSIAT in April last year, Alton briefly joined the Corporation of the City of Sarnia as a City Solicitor before jumping at the opportunity to join the Ministry of the Attorney General.
“I really enjoyed working for the City, but I was really interested in returning to a role that’s more directly involved in the justice system because that was something I really missed,” says Alton. “This is my first time practicing criminal law, so it’s been a really big change. It’s very busy and fast-paced, and I am lucky to be working in a really supportive and team-focused environment with a bunch of lawyers who are very generous with their time, and patient.”
Promoting consistent access to justice has always been top of mind for Alton, no matter what role she is in. She is also focused on cultural competency, having recently published a paper on cultural competency, specifically when assessing credibility.
During her eight-years at the WSIAT, Alton oversaw a legal department that managed external litigation and adjudications, as well as providing support for privacy and labour and employment matters. After assuming the role of general counsel in 2015, she promoted the adoption of a legal culture that prioritizes access to justice both at the WSIAT specifically, but also within the general administrative law community generally.
In late 2019, Alton helped to establish the WSIAT's Access to Justice Working Group and led over 50 staff and decision-makers in the adoption of processes and the creation of resources to help support meaningful participation for all of the WSIAT’s stakeholders. Alton even co-chaired the WSIAT’s first Access to Justice Symposium.
Alton’s passion for work in the justice system also drove her involvement in a number of volunteer activities including being a member of the Society for Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators which provides training and a community for the administrative law community. Alton organizes an annual conference for the society and acted as co-chair for the past two years. She is also involved with the Advocate Society, sitting on various committees including the diversity, inclusion and representation working group.
During the pandemic, Alton also began volunteering with Pro Bono Ontario – a free legal advice hotline, and she is on the board of various local organizations.
As she settles into her role at the Ministry of the Attorney General, Alton continues to expand and strengthen her skills.
“A lot of great work is being done to promote access to justice, but there’s clearly more to do,” she says. “I just hope I can continue to use my skills to promote positive change and modernization in the justice system.”