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Home News Law Society Awards 2021: Recognizing Excellence

Law Society Awards 2021: Recognizing Excellence

May 03, 2021

Members of Ontario's legal professions will be recognized for their outstanding career achievements and contributions to their communities at the annual Law Society Awards ceremony, which will be held virtually, on May 26, 2021.

A link to the virtual event will be available on the event listing the day of.

The following highlights the achievements of the 2021 recipients.

Law Society Medal

The Law Society Medal was first struck in 1985 as an honour to be awarded by the Law Society of Ontario to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. It is given to those who perform the ordinary tasks of a lawyer, but with such diligence or effectiveness or so much to the benefit of the profession as a whole, that they deserve recognition.

The award is made for outstanding services within the profession, whether in the area of practice, in the academic sphere, or in some other professional capacity where the service is in accordance with the highest ideals of the legal profession. It is also awarded for devotion to professional duties over a long term or for a single outstanding act of service.

The honour is granted only to members of the Law Society of Ontario or in recognition of service given while a member of the Society.

Peter Griffin headshotPeter Griffin Called to the Bar in 1980, Peter Griffin is recognized as one of Canada’s top civil litigators. Through precedent-setting decisions, exceptional advocacy, unwavering commitment to education and mentorship, and his involvement in positively advancing the legal profession and broader community – Mr. Griffin represents the very best in the legal profession. Over the past 40 years, he has acted in hundreds of trials and arbitrations, working tirelessly to advance his clients’ interests.

Despite maintaining a busy practice, Mr. Griffin has made an enduring contribution to the profession through his teaching of the next generation of lawyers, giving them meaningful court experience, sharing his expertise through numerous speaking engagements and setting the standard for excellence, professionalism and integrity. Mr. Griffin has also made lasting effects to the practice of law as President of The Advocates’ Society, Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, member of the Commercial List Users’ Committee and member of the Quadrennial Commission for Judicial Compensation, among other positions in which he has served.

Eldon Horner headshotEldon Horner Called to the Bar in 1995, Eldon Horner has demonstrated an outstanding dedication to his local community and to the legal profession overall. A talented lawyer, Mr. Horner runs a very successful litigation and solicitor’s practice while leading the local bar, which spans three counties, and making immense contributions to the Federation of Ontario Law Associations (FOLA) as Chair. He continues presently as the co-Chair of FOLA’s Real Estate Committee. These roles have required extensive time and travel.

Mr. Horner’s firm is known for providing excellent services and for having a commitment to access to justice, often charging lower rates or working pro bono for non-profit organizations and for the people in the surrounding small communities. Additionally, he devotes countless volunteer hours as a coach, a volunteer and a mentor. Many local charities and provincial organizations have had the benefit of this commitment. Hard work, trustworthiness, dedication and adherence to the principles of justice are all part of Mr. Horner’s well-earned reputation.

Judith Huddart HeadshotJudith Huddart Called to the Bar in 1982, Judith Huddart is being recognized for her leadership and contributions to the advancement of family law in Canada. She is a founding member and former chair/president of both Collaborative Practice Toronto and the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation (now Ontario Association of Collaborative Professionals). Her work in legislative reform and family law policy helped establish an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to family law which supports safe, accessible and non-litigious resolutions for families.

Early in her career, Ms. Huddart served as Chair of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Family Law Section, then continued on to become Chair of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) National Family Law Section. Now retired from practice, she is executive director of the Ontario Association of Collaborative Professionals and an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Ms. Huddart exemplifies the integrity and commitment to the best and highest ideals of the legal profession. She has provided outstanding and long-standing service and made a significant contribution to the legal profession.

Susan Kyle HeadshotSusan Kyle Called to the Bar in 1993, Susan Kyle has dedicated her entire career to public service. She currently serves as Ontario’s first female Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG), Criminal Law Division where she leads a dedicated and talented team of more than 1,000 lawyers and 600 business professionals – all of whom have benefited from her example of commitment to and respect for the law.

As ADAG, she has championed key initiatives including managing vicarious trauma, supporting diversity initiatives, mentoring, and continuing to transform the delivery of criminal justice. Ms. Kyle is currently guiding her division through one of its greatest challenges – the urgent move to virtual courts during the pandemic. She is a truly inspirational leader and an agent for positive change in the development and modernization of criminal law and the administration of justice in the province of Ontario.

Candice Metallic HeadshotCandice S. Metallic Called to the Bar in B.C. in 1997 and Ontario in 2006, Candice Metallic has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the advancement of Indigenous rights. She was involved in the Supreme Court of Canada case, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which continues to be leading constitutional law. In Ontario, she served as legal counsel for the former Indian Claims Commission and was called upon to assist in drafting legislation to resolve specific claims of First Nations - the Specific Claims Tribunal Act.

In 2011, she served as legal counsel to the Honourable Frank Iacobucci for a review of First Nations peoples on Juries in Ontario, and in 2017 she served as legal counsel to Senator Murray Sinclair in an Investigation into the Thunder Bay Police Services Board regarding allegations of systemic racism within the Police Services Board. In 2018, she was appointed the Indigenous Peoples Counsel, which is the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada’s highest honour. Ms. Metallic’s leadership and groundbreaking work have been transformative in advancing Indigenous rights in Canada.

Janice Payne HeadshotJanice Payne Called to the Bar in 1976, Janice Payne has been a leader in the legal profession for 45 years. A true trailblazer, she was one of the first women in private practice in Ottawa and continues to be an exemplary role model and mentor to many female lawyers who have followed. During the 1980s, she was a pioneer in Condominium law, arguing pivotal precedent-setting cases, and writing, interpreting and litigating Ontario’s condominium laws. She later shifted her area of practice and is now recognized as one of the top lawyers in Canada in employment law.

Many clients come to her at a vulnerable point in their lives. Ms. Payne steps in, stands up for them and becomes their voice – one that commands respect and obtains remarkable outcomes for her clients. In 2012, she was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2020, the OBA Award of Excellence in Civil Litigation – just two of many recognitions for her commitment and expertise throughout her remarkable career.

Professor Poonam Puri HeadshotProfessor Poonam Puri Called to the Bar in 1999, Professor Puri is one of Canada’s most respected and influential legal scholars in the fields of corporate law, corporate governance and securities regulation. She is a leading voice in provincial, national and global discussions on these topics, and her research has led to significant policy and regulatory reform. 

Professor Puri’s trend-setting and trailblazing pro bono efforts to improve access to justice for vulnerable individuals who have suffered financial harm led to the establishment of Osgoode Hall Law School’s Investor Protection Clinic, the first of its kind in Canada, and other similar clinics are following suit across the country. Her unwavering commitment to teaching and mentoring law students and young lawyers has shaped the next generation of lawyers in Canada. Professor Puri is a passionate and thoughtful leader in the legal profession who has earned the trust and respect of Canadian academia, bench, bar and society.

Lincoln Alexander Award

This is awarded annually in recognition of an Ontario lawyer or paralegal* who has demonstrated long-standing interest and commitment to the public and to the pursuit of community service on behalf of residents of Ontario. *This award was expanded to include paralegals in its eligibility criteria this year.

Rochelle Ivri HeadshotRochelle Ivri Licensed in 2012, Rochelle Ivri has shown outstanding leadership as the first African-Canadian professor in Mohawk College’s Paralegal Program. She is also the first paralegal and immigration consultant appointed as one of Canada’s 10 citizenship judges. Mrs. Ivri inspires her students to reach higher as set by her example, continually elevating the standards of those around her. She obtained a degree in Criminology from the University of Windsor, a post-graduate certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from York University and co-authored the textbook: Tribunal Practice and Procedure for Legal Professionals (Emond 2018).

Mrs. Ivri is committed to enriching her community. She formerly sat on the Council of the College of Midwives of Ontario, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library Board and the Discipline, Appeal, Review Committee of the ICCRC. She currently sits on the board of Bravo Niagara! and is the first and only African-Canadian appointed to the inaugural Niagara Region Women's Advisory Committee. Mrs. Ivri is also incoming Vice-Chair of the board of Fit Active Beautiful Foundation, member of the Black North Initiative's Representation Committee and is co-founder of a mentorship program for Black youth in the Niagara Region. Mrs. Ivri has demonstrated the need and importance of representation for racialized women in her profession and her community. She continues to elevate the paralegal profession through her consistent and continuous achievements.

Laura Legge Award

This award is presented annually to a female lawyer in recognition of service given while a member of the Law Society of Ontario.

Dr. Beverly Jacobs HeadshotDr. Beverly Jacobs (Mohawk Nation/Haudenosaunee) has exemplified leadership through her decade’s long advocacy work on behalf of Indigenous women and girls. Just prior serving as President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada for five years, Dr. Jacobs worked with Amnesty International Canada to write the 2004 Stolen Sisters’ Report – exposing human rights violations facing Indigenous Women and Girls. The Stolen Sisters’ Report included pathways to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. Dr. Jacobs’ work served as a pre-cursor to Canada’s National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. These are only two highlights of Dr. Jacobs’ career devoted to raising awareness and seeking to end discrimination against Indigenous women and girls.

Her advocacy, teaching and social commitments to the advancement of the rights of Indigenous women and girls, as well as access to justice, in her first year at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, where she is currently the  Acting Dean, resulted in her receiving the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility, Human Rights and Social Justice Award in 2017. Dr. Jacobs’ publication on her response to Canada’s formal apology for residential schools, continues to be utilized in law school classrooms in Canada. A member of the Order of Canada, her research combined with her advocacy has resulted in national and international recognition.

J. Shirley Denison Award

This award is bestowed annually to an Ontario lawyer or paralegal in recognition of significant contributions to access to justice and/or poverty issues.

Laurie E. Joe HeadshotLaurie E. Joe Called to the Bar in 1987, Laurie Joe is a bilingual lawyer with Community Legal Services of Ottawa, assisting clients in the areas of immigration, refugee and disability law. She has been involved with the Women and War program (Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa) for more than 25 years, providing legal support to survivors of violence and trauma. She is a founding member of the governing circle of Justice for Indigenous Women (J4IW), an educational and social justice organization. These two organizations work with vulnerable women who face multiple barriers to obtaining justice, including poverty, lack of information about available services, language barriers, stigma and social exclusion.

Ms. Joe is a longstanding member of the Association of French Speaking Jurists of Ontario and proud of the Association's projects to promote better access to justice in French. She is active on many committees and participates in training workshops for legal decision-makers, lawyers and law students. She is inspired by the next generation of legal advocates and demonstrates her caring through teaching and mentoring. Ms. Joe has made tangible and impressive contributions to justice issues in Ontario both through her volunteer and community engagement and her commitment to the legal profession. Every day, Ms. Joe has a positive impact on the lives of many people.

William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award

This award recognizes a licensed paralegal who has demonstrated a number of criteria, including: outstanding professional achievement, outstanding contribution to the development of the profession, adherence to best practices and mentoring of others in best practices, a history of community service and personal character that brings credit to the legal profession.

Kathleen Cooper HeadshotKathleen Cooper Licensed in 2012, Kathleen Cooper is a highly regarded practitioner who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to her profession. She is a senior researcher and paralegal at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, a legal aid clinic dedicated to promoting environmental and public health for low-income Ontarians. She is widely recognized as a leading voice for environmental justice in this province. A prolific author, Ms. Cooper has written seminal reports on environmental health and the protection of vulnerable communities from environmental harms. She is a key contributor to consultations on environmental laws at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Her longstanding commitment to public legal education ensures that Ontarians understand the impacts of environmental pollution on their health. Her advocacy work is rooted in her deep understanding of social justice and equity, and she ensures that the perspective of low-income people is front and centre in the environmental health field. Her legacy will be a far deeper understanding of the unfair burden of environmental harms on vulnerable communities and stronger legal standards to protect those communities. Her work has significantly improved the lives of low-income people, especially low-income children, throughout Ontario and Canada. She is an inspiration thanks to her passion and commitment to social justice and because of her skill and competence in her work.

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