Meet new bencher Tanya Walker

Posted: 08/10/2016

Picture of Bencher Tanya Williams standing outside beside Benchers' Entrance sign.Toronto lawyer Tanya Walker was elected as a bencher of the Law Society on August 9, 2016.

Bencher Walker was elected to fill the vacancy created by the election of Paul Schabas in June as the 66th Treasurer of the Law Society.

Her election makes Bencher Walker the first black woman elected as a bencher from inside Toronto in the Law Society’s history.

Ontario’s lawyers elect 40 lawyer benchers to the Law Society’s board of directors, known as Convocation, every four years. To ensure adequate regional representation, 20 benchers are elected from inside Toronto and 20 are elected from outside Toronto.

Watch video of Treasurer Schabas and Bencher Walker on the day of her election.

About Bencher Walker

Bencher Walker earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree (Hons.) from McMaster University in 2002. Called to the Ontario Bar in 2006, she obtained her law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2005. While there, she was awarded the Simms Shuber Prize for the highest academic standing in Corporate Governance. She is an Officer of the Board of Governors of McMaster University and a member of the Board of Directors of the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Association.

The 2013 Harry Jerome Award Young Entrepreneur winner is the founder of Walker Law Professional Corporation, a commercial-litigation firm located in downtown Toronto. In 2014, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the National Bar Association. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Traditional Law Practice Award from the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Rising Star Award from Planet Africa.

Bencher Walker is an active member of a number of legal organizations, including the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising.

In May, she was named a 2016 Precedent Setter by Precedent Magazine.

In her own words

Q: Congratulations, Bencher Walker! What do you hope to contribute as a bencher of the Law Society?

A: I am looking forward to bringing my own voice to the Law Society. That voice looks to access to justice and fair opportunity for people of all backgrounds. As a black woman, I have an interest in diversity that springs from my personal background but it isn’t limited to that. The special needs for diversity will hopefully become the standard for all. When that happens the word ‘diversity’ will cease to exist. That’s my goal. I am deeply honoured to represent all members of the profession as they seek to fulfil their obligations to the public interest in Ontario.

Q: How do you feel about this historic moment in your life?

A: There are opportunities, obligations and honours. Regarding opportunity, I hope to be able to make a contribution for the betterment of lawyers and paralegals to fulfil their obligations to the public. These obligations are very complicated and I can only hope to weave my way through these complex issues. The central obligation is to govern the professions who serve the public. More than that, with my background I want to ensure that those from diverse backgrounds have access to legal services. I receive this role as a Bencher with a huge degree of humility and I am reminded by my political friend that I serve in this role for a short time. In that period of time, I want to do my best to serve the profession.

Q: No doubt you’ve been congratulated from many people who have been part of your journey. Does anyone stand out for you — past professors, colleagues or someone you’ve particularly admired or held up as a role model?

A: In 2013, I received the Harry Jerome Award from the Black Business and Professional Association for creating Walker Law Professional Corporation. Harry Jerome was and still is a hero. He was a Canadian black sprinter who competed in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics. I have always admired him and feel privileged to receive a level of association for opening my own practice. The Law Society provides the opportunity for diverse lawyers to succeed and feel that they are enabled to jump over hurdles themselves.