Guthrie Award honours Justice Goudge
Justice Stephen Goudge of the Ontario Court of Appeal joins a cadre of legal industry leaders in receiving this year’s Guthrie Award.
The Law Foundation of Ontario award honours outstanding individuals or organizations for their contribution to access to justice and excellence in the profession.
“I feel I am getting this award as a representative of many, many members of the profession who in their own way, time after time, do things to promote professionalism and access to justice,” Justice Goudge said in a recent interview.
“If I can receive this award as a representative of them and as a way of underlining those values in the justice system, I am delighted.”
In receiving the Guthrie Award last night at an Osgoode Hall ceremony, Justice Goudge’s contributions are acknowledged alongside those of previous award recipients including, the Hon. Roy McMurtry, the former Attorney General and Chief Justice of Ontario and Alan Borovoy, General Counsel, Emeritus at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.
The public is better served by lawyers who have studied concepts of professionalism, Justice Goudge said. He has helped connect lawyers with resources that cultivate their understanding of professionalism through his work as chair of the Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism.
“Today, young people coming out of law schools are exposed to professional values and their importance in being a lawyer. That’s an enormous advance,” he said.
“When I went to law school nobody taught us about professionalism.”
Articling under Ian Scott, who in 1985 became Attorney General of Ontario, Justice Goudge said he was grateful to have learned about professional values from one of the great leaders in the profession.
Justice Goudge points to the focus on professionalism within the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development program as an essential modern tool benefiting lawyers and the public they serve.
“Now students go through law school and are exposed to challenging teaching from a very smart group of legal academics — it doesn’t matter what law school they go to, all six Ontario schools are moving ahead with this — in a way that is going to make them better serve the public interest as lawyers.”
Justice Goudge’s success is informed by the values he has dedicated his career to cultivating in other members of the Bar.
“What you know is that there is more discussion of professional values, there is more consciousness of what that means and, I think, as a result, lawyers will demonstrate a greater pursuit of professional values than they have before,” Justice Goudge said.
“The whole conversation that’s going on at the Law Society about civility wouldn’t have happened at the Law Society 10 or 12 years ago.
“It will be a collective pursuit of this goal. We’ll never get to perfection, but we will always move forward toward that goal.”
After working as litigation counsel with what is now the firm of Gowling, Strathy & Henderson, in 1996, Justice Goudge was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. He graduated from the University of Toronto law school in 1968 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1970. Between 1991 and 1996 he served as a Law Society bencher.
In addition to working on the Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism, Justice Goudge is also a member of the Civil Rules Committee and the Board of Governors of the Law Commission of Ontario.
Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, Lorne Sossin, nominated Justice Goudge for the Guthrie Award and characterized Goudge’s efforts “to build up the capacity and commitment of Canadian law schools to offer innovative programming in legal ethics as simply unprecedented.”