Society introduces J. Shirley Denison Award in recognition of significant
contributions to access to justice and poverty issues.
ON — Fourteen
members of Ontario's legal professions will be recognized for their exceptional
career achievements and contributions to their communities at the annual Law
Society Awards ceremony on May 25, 2016, at Osgoode Hall.
"This year's recipients are outstanding legal
professionals and I look forward to honouring them at our upcoming ceremony,"
said Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor. "I am also very pleased to present
the very first J. Shirley Denison Award, established in honour of former
Treasurer John Shirley Denison, KC. This award will be bestowed annually upon a
lawyer or paralegal in recognition of significant contributions to access to
justice and the relief of poverty.
honourees have very impressive and diverse professional experience and
expertise — from the private sector, public sector and academia. They are
leaders in their fields — from environmental law to language rights and human
rights. They are involved with our professions and in their communities and in
the advancement of social justice issues. Each recipient represents the best
of our professions and our professions' core principles — commitment to the
rule of law and access to justice.
presented in May are: The
Law Society Medal, The Lincoln Alexander
Laura Legge Award, The
William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award and the inaugural The
J. Shirley Denison Award.
Law Society Medal
Jennifer Babe, Toronto — Called to the Bar in
1982, Jennifer 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. 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.
Bessner, Toronto — 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 Ontario public inquiries. She is also 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.
Caza, Ottawa — 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
Orlando Da Silva, Toronto —
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.
Estrin, Toronto — Called to the Bar in 1971, David Estrin is recognized
as a true pioneer 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 Gowlings LLP and senior
research fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
David's personal commitment to the protection of the environment led to the
creation of CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) in
1970, Canada's first law clinic dedicated to such issues.
Gehrke, Toronto — 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 has played key role in expanding accountability and transparency
in Toronto's government processes and this has served as a role model for other
Laird, Toronto — Called to the Bar in 1979, Katherine Laird has dedicated
her entire professional life/career to the improvement of the lives of those
most marginalized in Ontario. She has been a leader in developing law reform
proposals, speciality community clinics, legislative amendments and other
legal initiatives to serve the most vulnerable. Since 2008, Laird has been
the Executive Director of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, overseeing
the establishment and development of a unique and valuable legal service for
human rights claimants.
Mendes, OOnt., Ottawa — 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.
Rosenthal, Toronto — Called to the Bar in 1992, Peter Rosenthal has
dedicated his legal career to representing those who are most marginalized
and disadvantaged in our society, including vulnerable youth, homeless
citizens, and members of Indigenous communities. He is widely recognized as a
strong advocate on social justice issues. Rosenthal is also a professor of
mathematics at the University of Toronto.
Professor Frederick Zemans, Toronto — 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.
William J. Simpson
Distinguished Paralegal Award recipient
John Tzanis, Toronto —
Licensed in 2008, John Tzanis is recognized for his leadership in the
paralegal profession. He led the successful unification of the two provincial
paralegal professional associations, leading to the establishment of the
Ontario Paralegal Association. Tzanis is recognized for his extensive
contributions on paralegal issues with colleges, the provincial government,
and the Law Society. He is the owner and operator of Continental Legal
Services Professional Corporation.
Alexander Award recipient
Mary Lou Dingle, QC, Hamilton —
Called to the Bar in 1964, Mary Lou Dingle is recognized for her lifetime of
service to the Hamilton community through her outstanding community
involvement and volunteerism. She is a trailblazer, mentor and role model to
countless lawyers in Hamilton and beyond. As a solicitor, she has a high
level of expertise and knowledge of estates and trusts.
Legge Award recipient
Lisa Borsook, Toronto — Called to the
Bar in 1982, Lisa Borsook has demonstrated extraordinary achievement and
leadership throughout her career as managing partner and now as executive
partner at WeirFoulds LLP. Borsook is one of the first of few women to be
named managing partner of a large law firm in Ontario. She is recognized for
her contributions and advocacy of diversity and women in the legal
profession, as well as her work on other boards and service in the
J. Shirley Denison Award
Jenny Vuay Quan, Toronto — Licensed in 2012,
paralegal Jenny Vuay Quan is the inaugural recipient of the J. Shirley
Denison Award. Quan has served for more than 28 years as a Community
Legal Worker for the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal
Clinic. For almost three decades, she has helped thousands of clients, many
of whom are disadvantaged and suffer from mental illness and trauma.
The Law Society regulates lawyers and
paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a
mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of
justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people
of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.
Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor, email@example.com
The Law Society of Upper Canada
Osgoode Hall, 130
Queen Street West
Toronto, ON, M5H 2N6
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