Who We Are – Calgary Criminal Barrister Team

Balfour Der and Lisa Burgis are one of Calgary‘s most energetic and searched for criminal defence lawyer teams. Their experience is unique as they know criminal law from both sides – defence and prosecution. As former crown prosecutors, Balfour and Lisa have 45 years of combined experience at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. This experience and their track record of defending thousands of cases, including many high profiles clients. This has earned them reputations as highly-respected criminal defence lawyers in Calgary and throughout western Canada. Criminal Lawyers Calgary

Whether they work together on a case, or independently, Balfour and Lisa will provide you with the best possible defense. Regardless of the seriousness of the charge or the circumstances of the client.

Their clients are people, not cases. They strive to humanize the legal system and work tirelessly to represent their client’s interests without exception.

Balfour and Lisa have defended professional and amateur athletes, police officers, firefighters, lawyers, and politicians. Also many others whose livelihood and reputations depended on the positive outcome of the case. Some of the most notable cases involve:

  • Canadian Forces Soldier  – manslaughter in Afghan training accident.
  • Cement truck driver – five counts of manslaughter in traffic accident.
  • Commercial pilot – criminal negligence crash landed plane on a Winnipeg street.
  • Young Offender – murder Columbine copy cat shooting at Taber High School.
  • Expert testimony – acquittal for murder – shoe print on victim didnt match Accused shoe.
  • Father  – murder  – shoots drug dealer who has his daughter hooked on drugs.
  • Professional wrestler  –  drug possession.
  • Funeral home owner – fraud and other professional violations.
  • Senior Citizen – murder – successful defence of not criminally responsible.
  • C-train employee – fraud & theft over $5000 – took coins by the handful.
  • Okotokes school employee – sex relationship with a student.
  • Calgary Police Officer – bribery & harassment.

Let Balfour Der and Lisa Burgis put their experience and knowledge to work to help you achieve the best possible results of your case.


Balfour Der Q.C.

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Martindale-Hubbell.com  records Balfour Der as having been given a 5 out of 5 by the Judiciary and Attorney Peers. Martindale-Hubbell®  Review Ratings™ are the gold standard in attorney ratings, and have been for more than a century.

Balfour Der has been described by the Calgary Herald as “arguably Calgary’s top defence counsel.” Balfour has been called upon by professional and amateur athletes, police officers, soldiers, firefighters, politicians, and lawyers. Also by many others whose livelihood and reputations depended on the positive outcome of the case. Balfour’s clients know they can rely on him to represent their interests without exception. When he takes on a case, he does so to achieve the best results. Regardless of the seriousness of the charge or the circumstances of the client.

Balfour was a senior trial prosecutor for the Crown Prosecutor’s Office in Calgary from 1981 to 1990. During that time he honed his skills by handling hundreds of criminal prosecutions. In 1988 Balfour was asked to join the appellate division of the Crown’s Office. Here he handled appeal cases before the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 1990 Balfour left the Crown Prosecutor’s Office to go into private practice. He has continued to practice exclusively in criminal law. He has successfully defended people who have been charged with the most minor of charges to the most serious. There is no area of criminal law that Balfour has not been involved. He has defended people charged in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the North West Territories. His experience extends to areas outside of strict criminal offences. It includes Tax Evasion, Customs Act offences and Traffic offences.

His main work is in the trial courts. However Balfour regularly argues appeals for persons he has defended and also accused that have been defended at trial by other lawyers. As counsel, Balfour has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. On precedent setting cases involving reasonable doubt and jury instructions, lost evidence, and double jeopardy.

Balfour teaches criminal law and is the author of two criminal law text books. As well as numerous papers and articles for seminars and lectures. He has been on the faculty of the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, Ontario and the Bar Admission Course of Alberta. As he says, “I eat, drink and sleep criminal law.”

Balfour is a former Junior A hockey player and marathoner. These days, outside of the courtroom, Balfour loves to travel. He is a triathlete (competing in Olympic and 70.3 distance triathlons) and an avid golfer with a 4 handicap.

Lisa Burgis

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You will not find a more experienced and well-regarded female criminal defence lawyer in Calgary than Lisa. Lisa became a lawyer in 1997 and since then has practiced exclusively in the area of criminal law. She has represented thousands of individuals charged with crimes ranging from shoplifting to murder.

Lisa has earned a reputation as a very skilled negotiator and an outstanding trial lawyer. In the court room she demonstrates the rare talent of negotiating with crown prosecutors. Also in examining witness’s and making written and oral legal arguments. All while protecting and representing her clients’ interests with the utmost poise, professionalism and integrity. Her ability to humanize the legal system by expressing compassion yet maintaining her unwavering legal objectivity sets her apart from her peers.

Lisa’s other distinguishing quality, that few of her peers possess, is her experience working as a crown prosecutor. This experience enables her to know criminal law from both sides – defence and prosecution. She has appeared in Alberta Provincial Court, Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal. Lisa has also had the rare opportunity to appear along with Balfour at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Lisa’s clients know her as a lawyer who believes strongly in establishing positive working relationships with them. She has worked with clients who have severe addictions to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. Also with clients who have serious mental disorders such as bi-polar, schizophrenia, and other behavioral disorders. Her cases have resulted in working with forensic experts in pathology, child abuse, psychiatry, psychology, blood spatter, computer, accounting, and arson.

Lisa has a thirst for continuing education. She continues her own legal and personal development education by attending seminars and courses locally and internationally. In the areas of Criminal Law, Conflict Resolution, Personal Development and Executive Coaching. These courses have helped shape Lisa into the unique lawyer she is. Her coach-approach with her clients is a novel and refreshing approach to practicing law. An approach highly effective to her clients and personally satisfying to her. In the legal community, Lisa is a member of the Calgary Criminal Lawyer’s Association.  A member of  the Calgary Bar Association. A member of the Canadian Lawyer’s Association. Lisa has volunteered her time with the Alberta Bar Admission Course. The Alberta Law Day. The  Calgary Legal Guidance. The Calgary Justice Working Committee, and University of Calgary Faculty of law.

Lisa is very active when away from the office. She is adamant about daily fitness and good nutrition. Lisa has taken up 1/2 marathons races and Olympic distance triathlons.  Lisa’s first love, aside from her family, is travel and the adventure it brings. She is also takes golf courses, thrilling adventures like zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, and cooking classes.