|Laura Legge, O. Ont., Q.C.
The Law Society of Upper Canada was saddened to learn of the death of Laura Legge, O. Ont., Q.C., on October 5, 2010.
Although Mrs. Legge’s contributions to the Law Society and the profession are innumerable, she is best known as the first woman elected bencher and Treasurer of the Law Society. Mrs. Legge became the first woman elected as a bencher of the Law Society in 1975. She made history again in 1983 when her fellow benchers elected her Treasurer. Mrs. Legge was re-elected as Treasurer in 1984 and 1988 and continued to actively serve as ex-officio bencher. She was modest about her pioneering accomplishments, telling the Lawyers Weekly shortly after becoming Treasurer that she didn’t find her election as Treasurer particularly significant. Mrs. Legge also served the profession as president of the Womens’ Law Association of Ontario and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
First educated as a nurse, Mrs. Legge felt herself better suited to the law and left her work as a nurse to attend Osgoode Hall Law School. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1948 and joined the Ontario Department of Health as a solicitor. In 1955, she established the still active firm of Legge & Legge with her husband, the late Major-General Bruce J. Legge, Q.C..
Despite her busy practice and commitments to the Law Society, the profession and her family, Mrs. Legge was also an ardent supporter of her community. She served on the boards of a number of private and public corporations including as director of the Home Care Program of Metropolitan Toronto from 1975-1983; director of the Board of Trade for Metropolitan Toronto, 1983-1987 and member of the Board of Governors, Women's College Hospital, 1983-1993.
Mrs. Legge’s enormous contributions to her community and the profession were recognized repeatedly. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1966. In 1988, she received a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) from the Law Society and in 1997 she received the Award of Excellence and Robinette Medal from Osgoode Hall Law School. In 2003, she was awarded the Order of Ontario, the Province of Ontario’s highest civilian award. Mrs. Legge was honoured again by the Law Society in 2007, with the establishment of the Laura Legge Award, which recognizes woman lawyers who exemplify leadership within the profession.
Mrs. Legge will be deeply missed by all who knew her at the Law Society.