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Shea Coulson

Shea acts as strategic counsel to a wide range of corporate and institutional clients on complex commercial, risk mitigation, regulatory compliance and litigation matters.

As Canadian lead of DLA Piper's AI group, Shea assists a wide range of businesses successfully commercialize AI in an uncertain legal landscape. He advises on technology related commercial disputes and regulatory compliance, including technology procurement, IPT services and supply agreements, supplier audit disputes, and disputes requiring digital forensics. Shea is a leading adviser in the emerging regulatory framework for artificial intelligence at the Canadian federal, provincial, and agency level. Shea regularly advises on issues involving the use of artificial intelligence in administrative decision making.  

Shea is also a leader in DLA Piper’s Chambers Band 1 rail transportation practice, and acts regularly for shippers and users of Canadian railways in arbitrations under the Canada Transportation Act and regulatory proceedings relating to rail freight rates, service issues, and rail-transportation related commercial disputes. 

Shea has been ranked as a “Litigation Star” in commercial and constitutional litigation by Benchmark Litigation and has appeared before the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Provincial Trucking Commissioner, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the B.C. Securities Commission, the Insurance Council of BC, the BC Financial Services Authority, the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Shea has also conducted numerous commercial arbitrations under a variety of arbitral rules. He is often retained to take matters on appeal.
Bar admissionsBritish Columbia, 2010


  • Successful defence of $10 million right of first refusal arbitration brought against a reporting issuer arising out of public markets financing.
  • Confidential final offer arbitration under the Canada Transportation Act, 2022.
  • Level of Service Complaint under the Canada Transportation Act, 2022.
  • Confidential final offer arbitration under the Canada Transportation Act, 2021.
  • Successfully settled complex multi-million dollar partnership and taxation dispute.
  • Successfully removed valuator from valuation dispute.
    • Successfully settled disputed buy-out of minority shares in $30 million dispute.
  • Successfully settled complex licensing dispute in the liquor sector.
  • Successfully settled multi-million dollar share claw-back dispute for founders arising from a new tech IPO and subsequent acquisition.
  • Successfully settled complex multi-jurisdiction commercial lease dispute in hospitality sector.
  • Successfully obtained multi-million dollar injunction for alleged fraud on behalf of large corporate client.
  • Lead counsel for a group of British Columbia wineries at the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark case determining for the first time in modern Canadian history the meaning of s. 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 (Canada's free-trade provision): R. v. Comeau, 2018 SCC 15. 
  • Counsel for the Director of Civil Forfeiture in important case applying the Charter to civil forfeiture proceedings. Successful on all major Charter breach issues: British Columbia (Director of Civil Forfeiture) v. Johnson, 2016 BCSC 1570. 
  • Lead counsel for the drivers successfully arguing BC's administrative roadside prohibition impaired driving law violated section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Goodwin v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2015 SCC 46; Sivia, Goodwin et al. v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), 2014 BCCA 79.
  • Counsel in a successful judicial review of decisions by Port Metro Vancouver to deny licenses to almost 30 companies representing hundreds of trucks for access to the Port to conduct local shipping and drayage: ATL Trucking LTD. et al v. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, 2015 FC 520.
  • Counsel for the Government of British Columbia in constitutional dispute with the Provincial Court Judges’ Association respecting judicial compensation: Provincial Court Judges’ Association of British Columbia v. Attorney General of British Columbia, 2014 BCSC 336; Provincial Court Judges' Association v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2015 BCCA 136.
  • Counsel on precedent-setting case on tribunal standing to make submissions in judicial review and on costs awards against tribunals: 18320 Holdings Inc. v. Thibeau, 2014 BCCA 494
  • English
  • JD, University of British Columbia, ‎‎2009‎
  • PhD, York University, 2006‎
  • MA, University of Western Ontario, ‎‎2005‎

    BA (Honours), University of Toronto, ‎‎2003‎

Publications and media

  • Author, “Explainability, misrepresentation, and the commercialization of artificial intelligence”, DLA Insights, March 18, 2024
  • Author, "Using AI responsibly as in-house counsel", DLA Insights, November 27, 2023
  • Author, "Proposed SEC AI regulations a prototype for Canada", DLA Insights, August 10, 2023
  • Author, "Canadian courts response to generative AI by issuing new practice directions on AI use in court submissions", DLA Insights, July 11, 2023
  • Author, "How artificial intelligence will change administrative law: The Government of Canada’s Directive on automated decision-making", DLA Insights, May 24, 2023
  • Author, "Using policy to protect your organization from generative AI risks", DLA Insights, May 8, 2023
  • Author, “Cullen Commission on money laundering, part two”, The Lawyer’s Daily, July 27, 2022‎
  • Author, “Cullen Commission report on money laundering, part one”, The Lawyer’s Daily, July 25, 2022
  • Author, “Applying for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail License in BC”, Cannabis Retailer, 2018‎
  • Interviewed by the CBC in “5 B.C. Wineries head to Supreme Court over provincial shipping laws”, October 13, 2017.
  • Author, “Normative Ethics and The Changing Face of Legal Technology: Or, How to Stay Relevant in a Transformed Profession”, The Advocate, Vol. 75, Part 5, September 1, 2017
  • Author, “Reviewing the Consequences of Search and Seizure in Administrative Regimes”, UBC Law Review, (2017) 50L1 UBC L Rev 39, Feb 1, 2017
  • Interview on the CBC regarding the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision in Goodwin v. British Columbia, CBC, October 1, 2015
  • Author, “Using Section 8 of the Charter in the Administrative Context”, Lawyer’s Weekly, December 7, 2012
  • Author, “Missing Pieces: Administrative Bodies and the Deliberative Secrecy Doctrine”, Lawyer’s Weekly, December 1, 2011
  • Author, “Liberty, Property and the Environment: Rethinking Environmental Law in Canada”, Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, February 1, 2009.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, International Technology Law Association
  • Member, Canadian Artificial Intelligence Association
  • Member, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
  • Former Law Clerk, BC Court of Appeal
  • Former Lecturer on Constitutional Remedies at UBC Law School