Awards 2013: The Law Society Medal
The Law Society Medal is awarded to those who have provided 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.
The Law Society Medal may be awarded for devotion to professional duties over a long term or for a single outstanding act of service.
2013 Law Society Medal recipients
The Honourable W. Dan Chilcott has devoted his distinguished career to promoting the aims of the Law Society and the independence of the judiciary and law profession. He is highly regarded by members of the Bar and the judiciary.
A graduate of the Dalhousie Law School, he began his career as a senior assistant Crown attorney of Carleton County (1956-59). In 1959, he entered private practice with the firm Binks, Chilcott & Simpson, working mainly in criminal and civil litigation. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1967.
Mr. Chilcott was elected bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1979 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 the 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.
He is currently a member of the Pension Appeals Board. He is a retired Deputy Judge of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories.
In 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the Law Society.
He is a past president of the Carleton County Law Association (1973) and for several years, was a senior instructor of the Bar Admission Course in Ottawa (1975-1988).
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).
In addition to his outstanding service and commitment to the profession, Mr. Chilcott ardently supports his community.
He is a past president and life director of the Central Canada Exhibition Association, former vice-chairman of the Ottawa Police Commission and a trustee of Grace General Hospital. He is also a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board in Ottawa.
A passionate advocate for human rights and social justice, Paul Copeland is highly esteemed by his peers for his principled approach to law and his desire to make the world a better place.
Long recognized by both the profession and the bench for his integrity, civility and professionalism, he is also fondly regarded for his sense of humour.
Called to the Bar in 1967, he went on to co-found the Law Union of Ontario in 1974 and is a former board member and past co-president of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
He was a director (1981-83) and vice-president (1983-91) of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario and chair of its Legislation Committee (1989-91).
Until April of this year, he was chair of the board of directors of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada; he is now a director.
He 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 served as chair of many committees, including the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee, the Women in the Legal Profession Committee, the Human Rights Monitoring Group and the Clinic Funding Committee.
He was also vice-chair of the Legal Aid Committee and was the Law Society’s representative on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee. He is now an ex officio bencher.
Mr. Copeland is also active on the international front, defending human rights in countries ruled by dictatorships. He has worked tirelessly for 25 years supporting the rights of the people of Myanmar (Burma).
Throughout his career, he has served as a mentor and role model for many new lawyers. He has also played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of all Canadians through his work on national security issues.
In 2008, he was appointed by the Federal Court as a Special Advocate under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for the Hassan Almrei and Mohamed Harkat security certificate cases.
In 2006, he received 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.
He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010.
Mr. Copeland practises criminal law, immigration law (including national security cases) and some civil litigation. He is a sole practitioner at Copeland, Duncan in Toronto.
In more than 60 years as a lawyer, Ralph Haskings Frayne has been a dedicated and active member of the Bar, including serving as duty counsel, Small Claims Court judge, and both an executive member and president of the Lincoln County Law Association in St. Catharines.
Prior to attending law school, Mr. Frayne enlisted in the Canadian Army at the age of 14, but was dismissed due to his young age. He later joined the merchant marine and the Royal Canadian Navy. During the Second World War, he served aboard HMCS Haida where he was the youngest member of the crew.
Called to the Bar in 1951, Mr. Frayne is lauded by his peers for his passion, perseverance, collegial approach and dedication to mentoring and continuing education.
Over the years, his ongoing support of newer members of the Bar has enriched the careers of many lawyers in the Niagara Region.
Mr. Frayne’s biggest contribution to the legal profession has been at the local level, with an initiative that has come to be known as “Ralph’s Family Law Group.” Introduced more than 30 years ago, this series of monthly seminars comprises a mix of outside speakers and local counsel discussing family law issues.
While these sessions provide education, guidance, support and camaraderie to family law practitioners — particularly those new to the profession — they also provide local practitioners with an important forum for discussion and debate. Mr. Frayne continues to lead this group and has been a regular presenter at local family law conferences throughout his career.
He is also widely renowned as a tireless advocate for the availability of legal representation for all, regardless of financial ability, and encourages his fellow lawyers to provide pro bono legal services.
Despite his vast experience, he is thrilled to continue learning as he serves clients in the St. Catharines area.
Edward Greenspan is recognized as one of the finest defence lawyers in Canada, known as much for his success in the courtroom as for his ability to engage the public on access to justice issues.
Mr. Greenspan, who takes on a breadth of cases from pro bono work to those involving high-profile clients, is a bestselling author and contributor to hundreds of publications.
He made a lasting impression on the public conscience in the 1980s when he travelled across the country to speak against a bill calling for the return of the death penalty. His efforts helped convince MPs and the bill was rejected in June 1987.
A board member and director of several major public companies, lecturer on criminal law, jurisprudence and public educator, between 1982 and 1994, Mr. Greenspan was a celebrated host of CBC FM’s The Scales of Justice and the award-winning TV show.
A graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School (1968), Mr. Greenspan was called to the Ontario Bar (1970) and would go on to hold leadership positions with several legal associations such as directorships of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and of The Advocates’ Society.
Greenspan has numerous awards to his credit, including the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada (1992), an Advocates’ Society Medal (2009) and the G. Arthur Martin Medal (2001).
The range of professionals who nominated Mr. Greenspan for a Law Society Medal — from distinguished lawyers to honorable members of the Bench to a politician to well-known authors, broadcasters and producers — speaks to how significantly he has helped advance justice issues across myriad industries.
Mr. Greenspan is characterized by his commitment to philanthropy and to community. He is regularly asked to speak at numerous fundraising events on the importance of law and the greatness of the Canadian criminal justice system.
As one nominator described it, “Eddie Greenspan is the archetype of an Ontario lawyer the Law Society Medal is meant to honour.”
Martha McCarthy is lauded for her tenacity and compassion as a courageous advocate and an internationally respected authority for the rights of same-sex couples and gender equality.
Ontario’s global reputation as a leading jurisdiction in providing equal family law rights to same-sex couples has been built on cases litigated by Ms. McCarthy.
Ms. McCarthy holds an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (1989) and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1991.
She began her distinguished career as an articling student at McMillan Binch LLP, where she developed a devotion to family law and later became a partner.
Prior to founding Martha McCarthy & Company in 2007, she was a partner at Epstein Cole LLP (2000-07) practising in the areas of family law litigation and mediation; children’s law and child representation; corporateissues in family law; and equality rights.
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 landmark equal marriage case, Halpern v. Canada (2002), which ended in the first Canadian decision recognizing same-sex marriage, effective June 2003.
Ms. McCarthy also intervened on behalf of lesbian families in A.A. v. B.B., a case which achieved legal recognition for a three-parent family.
In the last year, she acted for interveners in the Supreme Court of Canada about the rights of unmarried couples and on an appeal about child support for adult children with disabilities.
Among her numerous accolades during her more than 20 years in practice, she received the Canadian Bar Association Sexual Orientationand Gender Identity Conference Hero Award (1999); the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Family Law (2007); and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto Hope and Freedom Award (2010).
She was presented with the 2012 Toronto Family Lawyer of the Year award by Best Lawyers® in Canada and is consistently recommended in the Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory as a leading practitioner in family law.
She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, as well as the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
She has devoted many hours to continuing legal education and instructed law students in trial advocacy for over 10 years.
Ms. McCarthy is a frequent advocate, author and commentator on family law and equality issues and on our evolving concept of family.
The Honourable Roy McMurtry is well-recognized as a tireless champion of diversity, human rights and access to justice.
His contributions as a practising lawyer, legislator, judge and advocate are unequalled and truly inspiring. He represents, without doubt, the best of the legal profession.
Mr. McMurtry began his distinguished career as a trial counsel. In 1975, he was elected to the Ontario Legislature and was appointed Attorney General for Ontario, a position he held until 1985.
As Attorney General, he oversaw a period of unparalleled law reform, including bilingualism in the courts, multiculturalism and family law reform. He was deeply involved in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
During that period, he also served for four years as the Solicitor General for Ontario.
In 1985, he was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to Great Britain, a post 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, he was appointed Chief Justice of Ontario, serving for over 11 years until 2007.
Mr. McMurtry’s numerous and enduring contributions to the public good include the founding of The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, which promotes public interest in the history of the law, the legal profession and the judiciary, through the publication of 88 books to date.
He also founded and led the Ontario Justice Education Network after seeing a group of students visiting a courthouse and identifying the need for the legal profession to connect directly with and help educate young people about the justice system.
He is a dedicated supporter of Pro Bono Law Ontario and recently chaired the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project.
The recipient of numerous accolades, Mr. McMurtry was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1971, and made an Officer, Order of Merit of France in 2004.
He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2007, and in 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Mr. McMurtry is currently counsel with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and chancellor of York University.
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.
She is widely recognized by her peers as a passionate advocate and trailblazer.
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.
Early in her legal career, Ms. Opekokew pressed for recognition of the survivors of residential schools, one of which she attended for several years.
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 one of three commissioners appointed to inquire into the shooting death of Leo Lachance by self-proclaimed white supremacist, Carney Nerland.
Ms. Opekokew initiated legal action in Ontario for the family and estate of Anthony O’Brien “Dudley” George, the Aboriginal activist shot and killed by police at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995.
The resulting public inquiry led to many reforms, including the creation of the first-ever Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in Ontario, as well as important changes in policing approaches to First Nations settings.
Between 1998 and 2004, Ms. Opekokew litigated a case which led to a major financial settlement for First Nations war veterans who had been neglected after their return to Canada from serving abroad.
She was designated in October 2004 as an Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel (IPC) in recognition of her outstanding achievements in law. Recipients of this prestigious honour pursue their goals in a manner that aligns with the ideals of the Indigenous Bar Association and have served their community and the Creator with honour and integrity.
Ms. Opekokew is a sole practitioner in Toronto, practising Aboriginal law and civil litigation. She is one of 11 vice presidents of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and plays a leadership role within the Indigenous Bar Association.
She was awarded the Women’s Law Association of Ontario 2012 President’s Award.
She is a Deputy Chief Adjudicator for the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Process.