Each year, the Law Society of Upper Canada awards 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.
Jennifer E. Babe
Called to the Bar in 1982, Jennifer E. Babe is a solicitor at Miller Thomson LLP. She exemplifies leadership in the profession through her work with her clients, her teaching, her writing, pro bono legal services and community service, including work on law reform submissions through the OBA, CBA and other organizations. As chair of Miller Thomson’s pro bono committee, Babe leads by example in donating numerous hours to the development of two projects in conjunction with Ryerson University and Pro Bono Law Ontario.
Called to the Bar in 1983, Ronda Bessner has led an extraordinary career as a lawyer and has made significant contributions to Ontario and its legal community through her leadership and involvement in the Women’s Law Association, as well as her leadership in serving the people of Ontario in five public inquiries. She is a Visiting Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and recently co-designed and co-chaired a pre-inquiry roundtable on Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. She is also an adjudicator on the Consent and Capacity Board.
Ronald F. Caza
Called to the Bar in 1989, Ronald Caza, a renowned minority language rights advocate, has been practising law in both official languages for over 25 years. A partner of CazaSaikaley LLP, he has made significant contributions to the Franco-Ontarian community, not only as a lawyer, but also through his assiduous work with countless community organizations and charities.
Orlando Da Silva
Called to the Bar in 1995, Orlando Da Silva, during his presidency of the Ontario Bar Association, successfully brought the issues of mental illness and mental health to the forefront of the profession. He has shown extraordinary courage by sharing his personal experience and struggles with depression. Da Silva is counsel in the Crown Law Office – Civil, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. In 2015, Canadian Lawyer magazine named Da Silva one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada.
Called to the Bar in 1971, David Estrin is recognized as a true pioneer and leader in the development of environmental law in Canada and internationally through his work as a lawyer, author, mentor and educator. A former senior partner, he is now counsel with Gowling WLG and senior research fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. In the 1970s, he was a co-founder and first general counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association and founding editor of the Canadian Environmental Law Reports. He started Canada’s first private environmental law boutique (1976), and authored several authoritative environmental law texts. Recently he co-founded the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Law Clinical Program at Osgoode Hall Law School and co-chaired the International Bar Association’s Presidential Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights.
Called to the Bar in 1979, Linda Gehrke has been a leader in the profession throughout her 35 years as a lawyer, adjudicator, and in her work as the Lobbyist Registrar for the City of Toronto, where she was responsible for implementing the first municipal lobbyist registry. Gehrke played key role in expanding accountability and transparency in Toronto’s government processes and this has served as a role model for other jurisdictions.
Called to the Bar in 1979, Kathy Laird has used her career to promote access to justice and social equality. She has worked with others to develop new legal services and to reform laws affecting low income tenants, domestic workers, Aboriginal community members and human rights claimants. As a community clinic lawyer, she has represented the rights of people facing eviction and homelessness before the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Supreme Court of Canada. Since 2008, Laird has been the Executive Director of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, overseeing the establishment of a unique and valuable legal service for human rights claimants. Not satisfied with merely applying the law, Laird has pushed successfully for legislative, policy and institutional changes that promote equality.
Professor Errol Mendes, O.Ont.
Called to the Bar in 1986, the University of Ottawa professor has made an extraordinary contribution as an academic, legal advisor, adjudicator and teacher. He is recognized as an expert on constitutional law, corporate governance, human rights and diversity. As commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Mendes has helped to develop several of the Commission’s new approaches to combating systemic discrimination in Ontario.
Called to the Bar in 1992, Peter Rosenthal has devoted his legal career striving to increase social justice. He has represented homeless people, members of First Nations, dozens of political activists, small political parties, families of victims of police killings and many others. Rosenthal is also Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.
Professor Frederick Zemans
Called to the Bar in 1966, Professor Frederick Zemans is a distinguished member of the Faculty of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School and a pioneer in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution. He was the founding director of the Parkdale Community Legal Service clinic. Established in 1971, the clinic was a ground-breaking initiative in the legal profession. Zemans pioneered the experiential training of law students who provided legal services to low-income residents. The initiative was part of Osgoode’s Intensive Program in Poverty Law.
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.