Ask the Experts



As an emerging sub-speciality our suite of specialized services and training programs are offered by professionals practicing in the field of either social work, law or both. We are highly skilled individuals who work as lawyers, social workers, educators, professional mentors, and consultants to the courts, private and professional organizations, government and corporations. —that is why when it comes to specialized services and training we are the professionals you want.

As professionals in the industry, we want to provide the best training, guidance and service you deserve.  Whether you are seeking a strategic alliance or plan to develop and enhance a special skill set call us today. Together we will create and refine your goals for success. We didn’t get there alone, and neither will you. 

Contact us today at to discuss how we can help.


An Exciting Time

Be a part of this exciting and emerging  sub-speciality in the field of social work practice.  Learn the law that is essential  to social work practice.  Develop practical skills in forensic social work advocacy, investigation, testimony as an expert witness, assessment and much more. 


Unlock an Exciting Career

The possibilities are endless when you have people who are committed to providing you with the very best service, training and support. 

The Founder

Shawna (Paris) Hoyte QC, MSW, RSW


The Institute is the brainchild of Shawna Hoyte who is a practising lawyer, clinical social worker and forensic social work consultant and educator in Canada. After years of simultaneous practise in both professions, Shawna saw the need for lawyers to gain an understanding of social work concepts, theories and approaches and for social workers to enhance their understanding of the law relevant to social work practice. 

Shawna is an award winning and highly regarded multi-disciplinary and inter-professional practitioner as a social worker, lawyer and educator. She holds four degrees that are in the arts, two in social work and a law degree from Dalhousie University, as well as, a Certificate in Community Development from Henson College and a certificate in The Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration (Dalhousie). She is also a trained mediator (UPEI), has training in collaborative family law and a certificate in Forensic Social Work.  Shawna is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.  

Social Worker/Educator: As a social worker and educator, Shawna has trained, supervised and taught social workers in the BSW and MSW programs in Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Law and Social Work Practice (Forensic Social Work) combined, since 2003 at Dalhousie University. She has also taught Diversity and Social Work as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary (Edmonton Campus) in 2017. As a licensed private practice clinical social worker, Shawna has spent the last twelve years working in mental health and addiction services with children and youth on the Emergency Mental Health and Addictions Service team (EMHAS) at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, NS. She also operated a small private practice in Dartmouth NS as an EFAP therapist for several national and international counselling companies with a speciality in depression care, family & couples therapy, trauma services and counselling specific to children with school and social anxiety. 

Lawyer/Educator: For over twenty- two years Shawna has practised as a Barrister & Solicitor and Notary in Canada. She teaches clinical law at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service,a community-based service of the Dalhousie University, Schulich School of law. She is also a guest professor in the Indigenous Black and MiKmaq Pre-law program. Her practice is in child protection, human rights, family law, divorce and youth and adult criminal law. As defence counsel, her legal work focuses on individuals from marginalized, disenfranchised and low- income communities. Shawna successfully argued the case of R. v. L.T.H. at the Supreme Court of Canada (2008) which addresses the rights of youth under the YCJA which is a precedent-setting case in Canadian Youth Justice Law. 

Consultant: Shawna  works at a national and local level with many grassroots community organizations, professional organizations, and government (Embracing Change - Federal Government) to address access to justice and social justice issues faced by women, Indigenous peoples, low-income persons, African Canadians, new Canadians, and generally individuals from marginalized and disenfranchised communities. She continues to share her knowledge in mental health and addictions, cultural competency, public legal education, clinical social work practice, forensic social work education, and human rights with a focus on professional development, training and education, access to justice and social justice for all.  

Researcher: In pursuing a PhD in social work at Memorial University,Shawna’s research interests are in transgenerational and intergenerational trauma and epigenetics specific to criminal law, human rights and child welfare matters and the mental health. She is also focused on program development and education in clinical forensic social work practice in Canada, federal & provincial corrections reintegration programming, clinical cultural-historical assessments, the impact of systemic discrimination, unconscious bias, and social policy development.  

Shawna is a well-known and popular speaker who has been developing, implementing and facilitating workshops, giving lectures and training professionals for many years. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her work in law and social work. Among her many accolades and acknowledgements, Shawna was awarded:  the 2016 Distinguished Service Award in Social Work by the Canadian Association of Social Workers/ Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSASW as it was then).   Shawna holds the prestigious designation of Queens Counsel in Canada as a lawyer.  She is an inductee in the Bertha Wilson Honor Society.  She was a nominee in the 2017 Canadian Lawyer Magazine for The top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada

Shawna and Lana MacLean MSW, RSW presented a paper entitled: Access to Justice: Promising Practices in the Pursuit of Justice - A Case Study, at the National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) Conference 2017 in Boston, Mass.

In 2018, they hope to present on the topic of Community Organizing for Advocacy at the 2018 Conference in New Orleans, USA. See Shawna’s speakers list, publications, awards.  

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