Each year, the Law Society of Upper Canada awards its top honour — the Law Society Medal — to selected lawyers who have made a significant contribution to the profession.
The award is given for outstanding service 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 may be awarded for devotion to professional duties over a long term or for a single outstanding act of service.
Most recent recipients
Seven lawyers whose careers represent the highest level of achievement and commitment to serving society and the profession will receive the 2013 Law Society Medal at a special ceremony on May 29, 2013.
- The Honourable W. Daniel Chilcott, Q.C.
- Paul D. Copeland, C.M.
- Ralph Haskings Frayne
- Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C.
- Martha A. McCarthy
- The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, OC, O.Ont, Q.C.
- Delia M.A. Opekokew
The Honourable W. Dan Chilcott, Q.C., Ottawa, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1956
The Honourable W. Dan Chilcott has spent his career promoting the aims of the Law Society and the independence of the judiciary and law profession.
A graduate of the Dalhousie Law School, he began his career as a senior assistant Crown attorney of Carleton County (1956–59). He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1967.
Mr. Chilcott was elected bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in1979 and was re-elected consecutively until he was voted Treasurer of the Law Society for the 1987–88 term. In 1988, he began a distinguished judicial career, serving first as a judge in High Court of Justice in Ontario (1988–90), the Ontario Court of Justice (1990–99) and finally the Superior Court of Justice (1999–2004). In 1999, he was also named a deputy judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice.
In 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the Law Society.
Mr. Chilcott is a member of the Bars of Ontario and Nova Scotia, and a former member of the Bar of the Northwest Territories, where he served as Special Prosecutor and Deputy Magistrate (1958).
Paul D. Copeland, C.M., Toronto, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1967
Paul Copeland is both a fearless critic of all forms of injustice and one known for his civility and professionalism.
A leading advocate for human rights and social justice, he co-founded the Law Union of Ontario in 1974 and is a founder and past president of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. He was a director and vice-president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario and chair of the Legislation Committee (1981–91). He is chair of the Board of Directors of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.
Mr. Copeland was elected a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1987 and again in 1990, then consecutively until 2007. During this time, he was chair and vice-chair of many committees and is now an ex-officio bencher.
In 2006, he was awarded the Sidney B. Linden Award from Legal Aid Ontario, and a year later was honoured with the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal from the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
In 2010, Mr. Copeland was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
Ralph Haskings Frayne, St. Catharines, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1951
In his 60 years as a lawyer, Ralph Haskings Frayne has been an active member of the Bar including acting as duty counsel, Small Claims Court judge, and both an executive member and president of the Lincoln County Law Association in St. Catharines.
Ralph’s biggest contribution to the profession has been at the local level, with an initiative that has come to be known as “Ralph’s Family Law Group”. This series of seminars presents a mix of outside speakers and local counsel discussing family law issues. Mr. Frayne organized and led it for over 25 years.
He has earned a well-deserved reputation for being helpful to young lawyers opening new practices, often encouraging them and even making space available to those who needed office space to begin work.
He continues to serve clients in St. Catharines.
Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C. Toronto, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1970
Edward Greenspan is widely recognized by his peers as a dedicated professional who promotes greater access to justice. Throughout his career, he has made an immeasurable contribution to the practice of law in Canada.
His work as a high-profile criminal defence lawyer has been widely recognized. He has been awarded honorary doctorates of law from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1999 and Brock University in 2012. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws from the University of Windsor in 2002. In 2001, he was presented with the G. Arthur Martin Medal, and was recognized with The Advocates' Society Medal in 2009. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1982.
Mr. Greenspan has devoted countless hours to educating younger lawyers, developing a bar of criminal trial lawyers dedicated to vigorously advocating for clients charged with criminal offences, and making the Canadian public aware of the important role of defence counsel.
Martha A. McCarthy, Toronto, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1991
Martha McCarthy’s work, put simply, has resulted in a different Canada.
Early in her career, she took on a new client — a client who would eventually become the M. of M. v. H. (1999), the landmark Supreme Court of Canada case that resulted in amendments to include same-sex couples as spouses in federal and provincial legislation. In 2000, she began the equal marriage case, Halpern v. Canada (2002), which ended in the first Canadian decision recognizing same-sex marriage effective June 2003.
Ms. McCarthy intervened on behalf of lesbian families in A.A. v. B.B.., a case which achieved legal recognition for a three-parent family.
In 2007, Ms. McCarthy received the Excellence in Family Law award from the Ontario Bar Association.
The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, OC, O.Ont, Q.C., Toronto, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1958
The Hon. Roy McMurtry was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1975 and was appointed Attorney General for Ontario, a position he held until 1985. As Attorney General, he was deeply involved in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. During that period, he also served for four years as the Solicitor General for Ontario. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1971.
In 1985, Mr. McMurtry was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to Great Britain, a post which he held until late 1988. In 1991, he was appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court and then Chief Justice of that court in 1994.
In 1996, Mr. McMurtry was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario, serving for over 11 years until 2007. In that same year, he was awarded the Order of Ontario, and in 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Delia M.A. Opekokew, Toronto, called to the Bar of Ontario in 1979
Delia Opekokew, a member of the Canoe Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, was the first Aboriginal woman to be called to the Bars of Ontario, in 1979, and Saskatchewan in 1983.
Ms. Opekokew practised family and criminal law in Toronto as a partner in the firm of Zlotkin & Opekokew from 1979 to 1980. She practised in different areas of Aboriginal law with institutional clients while at Blaney, McMurtry LLP from 1985 to 1990.
She was counsel to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations from 1980 to 1985. Between 1990 and 1998, Ms. Opekokew practised alone, during which time she was appointed as one of three commissioners to inquire into the shooting death of Leo Lachance by self-proclaimed white supremacist, Carney Nerland.
She successfully resolved the Canoe Lake Cree Nation land claim and was counsel in the wrongful death case of Anthony O’Brien “Dudley” George, in Ontario.
Ms. Opekokew is a sole practitioner in Toronto, practising Aboriginal law and civil litigation. She is a Deputy Chief Adjudicator for the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Process.
History of the medal
Originally struck in 1985, the Law Society Medal has been awarded to more than 100 lawyers in recognition of distinguished service.
The Medal is made of sterling silver and is in the shape of a heraldic rose; the petals covered in white enamel. The white rose of York was chosen because it forms part of the Law Society’s coat of arms; it symbolizes the fact that the Law Society's seat was in York County, and that Toronto was called York at the time when Osgoode Hall was created in 1829.
The Law Society's motto, "Let Right Prevail," appears in a red enamel circle in the centre of the rose, surrounded by a stag. The stag came originally from the coat of arms of Sir John Beverly Robinson, an early Treasurer. A beaver was also included as it appears in the Law Society's coat of arms.
Recipients of the Medal are permitted to wear it on appropriate occasions, and can also use the designation LSM (short for Law Society Medal) after their names.
See a list of all recipients of the Law Society Medal.