Long-time legal aid advocate honoured

Posted: 02/17/2012

The Guthrie Award is given to individuals or organizations which demonstrate outstanding public service, make significant contributions to access to justice or symbolize excellence in the legal profession.

Lawyer and long-time advocate for legal aid services, Judith McCormack, has been awarded a 2011 Guthrie Award by the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The award recognizes outstanding public service on the part of an individual or organization, in the form of contributions to access to justice or excellence within the legal profession.

Those who nominated McCormack describe her as a “vociferous advocate for increased legal aid services and improved access to justice.”

Others point out that McCormack has done “a remarkable job training the next generation of lawyers to remain loyally fixated on their professionalism and the public interest.”

McCormack is acknowledged as a person who blends “just the right amount of idealism with realism for the occasion.”

McCormack, of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, joined the faculty’s Downtown Legal Services clinic (DLS) in 2001.

In addition to serving as its executive director and holding an adjunct professorship, McCormack provided leadership while overseeing the work of law students which each year assists about 3,000 low-income people.

LFO board chair, Mark Sandler, commends McCormack on her contributions.

“Judith’s distinguished career has been consistently guided by a strong commitment to accessible justice,” he said in a news release.

“She has had an enormous impact because of her influence on law students entering the profession and because of her success in achieving systemic change in law schools, legal clinics and the tribunal sector – all of which, in turn, benefits the public of Ontario.”

McCormack’s Guthrie Award nomination was supported by a selection of people including judges, academics and legal clinic practitioners.

McCormack will be presented with a Guthrie Medal at a reception in the spring.