Extraordinary Legal Professionals Honoured at Annual Awards Ceremony
Ten distinguished members of Ontario’s legal professions were honoured and celebrated for their remarkable career achievements and contributions made to their communities. The Law Society Medal and Awards Ceremony took place May 23, 2018 at Osgoode Hall. Watch the archived webcast here.
“The Law Society is very proud and pleased to celebrate the achievements of these 10 outstanding legal professionals,” says Law Society Treasurer Paul B. Schabas. “Their commitment to serving society and the legal profession is exemplary.”
The Law Society awards include: The Law Society Medal, The Lincoln Alexander Award, The Laura Legge Award, The William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award and The J. Shirley Denison Award.
The 2018 award recipients are:
The Law Society Medal
Lenny Abramowicz: Called to the Bar in 1987, Lenny Abramowicz has committed his career to the Ontario community legal clinic system, starting with his articles in 1986 at the Parkdale Legal Clinic, and most recently as the Executive Director of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario. For the past 30 years, Mr. Abramowicz has worked tirelessly to promote access to justice and equality for low-income Ontarians.
Kathleen Lickers: Called to the Bar in 1995, Kathleen Lickers, a Seneca from Six Nations of the Grand River, is widely recognized for her work in Indigenous affairs. She is renowned for her expert counsel and as an accomplished negotiator between Indigenous agencies, First Nation governments and federal and provincial ministries.
John Andrew Olthuis: Called to the Ontario Bar in 1987, the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 2015 and the Alberta Bar in 1965, John Olthuis has spent 40 years working with First Nations across Canada from Labrador to the Northwest Territories for recognition and implementation of their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, including finding innovative ways to secure cultural and habitat protection and economic benefits from projects they consent to in their Traditional Territories.
Gilles LeVasseur: Called to the Bar in 1994, Gilles LeVasseur, a proud Franco-Ontarian, has dedicated much of his career to working to protect, promote and enhance the constitutional and language rights of Ontario’s Francophone community, including human rights.
Professor Carissima Mathen: Called to the Bar in 1994, Carissima Mathen has championed women’s equality, respect for the rule of law and public legal education throughout her career. From her work on ground-breaking sexual violence cases, to her constitutional scholarship and informative public commentary, she has become one of Canada’s leading legal voices.
Walter Martin Traub: Called to the Bar in 1973, Walter Traub is highly regarded as one of Canada’s foremost experts and authorities in real estate and mortgage law. He is the Editor in Chief of the leading book on mortgage law in Canada, “Falconbridge on Mortgages” published by Canada Law Book in 2003 and he has made a remarkable contribution to the law and practice of real estate through his role as a teacher, mentor, writer and leader in the real estate bar.
Lincoln Alexander Award
Jim Cimba: Called to the bar in 1981, James Cimba is known to the Hamilton community for his generous and selfless community involvement. His past and ongoing commitments encompass a wide range of organizations and causes, including arts and culture, sports and recreation, community building, relief of poverty, social and healthcare agencies, charitable projects and professional associations.
Laura Legge Award
Mary Lou Fassel: Called to the Bar in 1983, Mary Lou Fassel has demonstrated extraordinary achievement and leadership throughout her work at the Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. Over the past 30 years, she has dedicated herself to improving legal services to female survivors of violence and to the reform of laws and legal system responses to support survivors.
Shirley Denison Award
Antree C. Demakos: Called to the Bar in 1992, Antree has devoted her entire career to demystifying the law and helping millions of Canadians obtain better access to justice. Antree founded, and continues to be the driving force behind Legal Line, a federal non-profit organization. For 25 years, she has helped millions of Canadians obtain free legal answers and professional referrals through her pre-recorded, 24-hour information telephone line, live telephone support and the website — Legalline.ca
William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award
Harry D. Fine: Licensed in 2008, Mr. Fine served as an adjudicator at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. At the end of his term, he opened a private practice providing legal services as a paralegal. He has taught a variety of paralegal courses at various community colleges and has served as a director of both the Paralegal Society of Ontario and the Ontario Paralegal Association. He has also volunteered as president of the Landlord’s Self-Help Centre.
The Law Society Awards were initiated in 1985 with the unveiling of The Law Society Medal to honour members who have made significant contributions to the profession, exemplifying diligence, effectiveness and commitment. Other awards include: The Lincoln Alexander Award established in 2002 and presented to a lawyer demonstrating long-standing interest, duty to the public and community service; The Laura Legge Award established in 2007 presented annually to a woman lawyer, commemorating exemplary mentorship and service to the profession; The William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award initiated in 2011 and bestowed to a paralegal exhibiting outstanding professional achievement and involvement; and in April 2015 Convocation approved the establishment of The J. Shirley Denison Award in honour of former Treasurer John Shirley Denison, bestowed annually to a lawyer or paralegal in recognition of significant contributions to access to justice and /or poverty issues.