Outstanding legal professionals to receive 2019 Law Society Awards on May 22
Members of Ontario’s legal professions will be recognized for their exceptional career achievements and contributions to their communities at the annual Law Society Awards ceremony on May 22, 2019, at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
“This year’s award recipients have all demonstrated outstanding achievements, along with an exemplary commitment to service,” says Law Society Treasurer Malcolm Mercer. “We look forward to honouring these exceptional legal professionals with the Law Society’s highest awards of recognition.”
The awards presented in May will 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 following brief biographies highlight the achievements of the 2019 recipients.
Law Society Medal
Aldo Braida (Guelph/Action): Called to the Bar in 1955, Aldo Braida has dedicated more than 60 years to the practice of law in Guelph and Acton. He has devoted countless volunteer hours to public service and has been an advocate and supporter of many projects that have benefited veterans, seniors and palliative care patients and their families in his community.
Tom Curry (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1986, Tom Curry is being recognized for his outstanding skills as a trial and appellate counsel and for his deep and abiding commitment to his clients and the administration of justice and the rule of law. He is considered a generous mentor to junior lawyers and a great leader of his firm and within the profession.
Professor Jeffery Hewitt (Rama): Called to the Bar in 1998, Jeffery Hewitt is an exemplary role model as an academic, advocate and leader. He has dedicated his professional academic career, which has focused on Indigenous legal orders and governance, constitutional and administrative law and human rights and remedies, to advancing the goal of reconciliation. He continues to provide invaluable inspiration on countless Indigenous legal initiatives centered on education and Indigenous justice.
Cheryl Milne (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1987, Cheryl Milne has had a profound and unique influence on the Canadian legal landscape as a child rights advocate. She is a leading constitutional and Charter rights litigator, an innovative experiential legal educator, and a generous legal community volunteer. She provided front-line legal services to children and teenagers across a wide range of legal needs for many years and now leads constitutional advocacy in an academic centre she helped to create.
Guy Pratte (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1984 (and the Québec Bar in 2002), Guy Pratte is an exemplary advocate and generous contributor to his community. He is recognized as one of Canada’s leading bilingual lawyers. In addition, he is recognized as a leader in access to justice and pro bono services. He is currently Chair of Pro Bono Ontario and the founding member of Pro Bono Quebec and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s national pro bono program.
Professor Carol Rogerson (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1991, Carol Rogerson is recognized as a leading Canadian scholar in the area of support law. Her work in developing the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines has had a profound impact on the operation of the family justice system across Canada. She has played a pivotal role in shaping family law and policy in Canada.
Susan Ursel (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1986, Susan Ursel is being recognized for her exceptional achievements in labour and employment law and for championing equality rights for the LGBTQ+ communities. Her ground-breaking cases and involvement in LGBTQ+ initiatives have had considerable impact in advancing human rights in Canada and abroad.
Frank Walwyn (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1995, Frank Walwyn is being recognized as a leader in the legal profession and as a trailblazer in the Black legal community in Ontario. He is the longest serving President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and has championed equity and diversity in the legal profession, making invaluable contributions to the legal community as a whole.
Lincoln Alexander Award
Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa): Called to the Bar in 2001, Yasir Naqvi, a first generation Canadian, has committed his life to community and public service. He has led numerous community programs and initiatives aimed at bringing people together and building up marginalized communities. Under his leadership as a minister serving three major portfolios, and as the first Attorney General of Ontario of Muslim faith, he led significant justice reforms across the province.
Laura Legge Award
Pamela Cross (Kingston): Called to the Bar in 1994, Pamela Cross has demonstrated extraordinary achievement and leadership in the advancement of women’s equality in Canada. For over 25 years, Ms. Cross has worked tirelessly as a lawyer, researcher, teacher, writer, public speaker, mentor, trainer and activist, to explain and challenge how the law addresses individualized and systemic violence against girls and women, especially in the family law context.
J. Shirley Denison Award
Amanda Ross (Toronto): Called to the Bar in 1996, Amanda Ross is being recognized for her long-standing commitment to Toronto’s most vulnerable through her volunteer efforts with the Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program. Having volunteered for the Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program for more than 18 years, she spearheaded a fundraising model to keep it solvent. She is an inspiration to many lawyers and has made significant contributions towards poverty issues.
William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award
Jennifer Gravel Vanasse (Ottawa): Licensed in 2008, Jennifer Gravel Vanasse has demonstrated exceptional skill and commitment to her profession. Having worked at Vice Hunter LLP in Ottawa since 1988, she has demonstrated the utmost devotion to the firm and its clients. She has contributed to the development of the paralegal profession through her long-standing involvement with the Paralegal Committee of the Carleton County Law Association, and through her mentoring of paralegal students and other licensees.
The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.