An Example of Excellence: Tom Curry Receives 2019 Law Society Medal
Called to the Bar in 1986, Tom Curry is recognized for his outstanding skills as a trial and appellate counsel and for his deep and abiding commitment to his clients, 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. Tom is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and is a Certified Specialist in Civil Litigation by the Law Society of Ontario.
Tom served as Director of the Advocates’ Society from 2012-2017, and is currently a board member at Nipissing University and a member of Queen’s University’s Health Quality Programs Advisory Committee.
Tom has earned the respect of colleagues, opponents, the Bar, and the Bench, and is an example of excellence in the profession.
Tom is one of this year’s recipients of the Law Society Medal which is awarded to Ontario lawyers who have made a significant contribution to the profession.
What does this award mean to you?
I have a passion for justice and the law. Over the course of my time at the Bar, I have maintained an enthusiasm for my work in the Court that is anchored in a belief in the ability of the law to solve problems of every kind. Putting the law into action and helping people solve legal problems is the professional life I have chosen and that I have truly loved.
The Law Society of Ontario has always been an important part of my pride in the profession, for a few reasons. First, it is a great honour to be a member of an organization that has governed the profession for over 200 years and that has included so many interesting people among its members. Second, it has been my privilege to work over many years with the Law Society in the delivery of educational programs and occasionally to act as its counsel. Finally, I have admired the leaders of the profession who have chosen to serve the public interest as benchers and the staff members and volunteers who make it run effectively.
Throughout my career I have tried hard to honour the goals and values of the profession and the administration of justice. The award of the Law Society Medal represents the pinnacle of my work as a lawyer and member of this Society.
What drives you (or has driven you) in your legal career?
My work as a lawyer is driven by a commitment to excellence to be as good a counsel as I can be. Success in any field comes only with a commitment to work hard to achieve one’s goals, whether those are the goals of a family, an organization, or personal goals.
I learned these values from my family. My mother is a wise, kind, generous and empathetic person. She instilled those values in my four sisters and me – she has been the foundation of our family for her life and at 97, remains a source of all that is good in my life.
My late father’s life was devoted to the service of others – first as a young person forced to leave school in Grade 8 to support his family when his father was killed in an accident, and later as a soldier in WW2 and then a policeman in North Bay. From him, I learned the importance of sacrifice for others.
My spouse and three children have supported me in my career and they share the joy of my practice and have made many sacrifices to allow me to pursue my passion.
It has also been my privilege to have worked in two law firms that pursue excellence in everything they do. I have benefited by my association with the members of those firms and I have absorbed the values they share.
What piece of advice do you have for new legal professionals beginning their career?
Aim high! Dedicate yourself to excellence in everything you do. Cherish the relationships you form with colleagues. Invest in them and take the time to listen to others. Surround yourself with mentors, friends and colleagues from all areas of practice who challenge you and your perspective. If you do that, you will never stop growing.
Don’t miss the chance to broaden your perspective. In the end, spending time on a secondment or even taking a year off will not interfere with the arc of your career in the law. It will only enhance it.
Remember that you can control two things: your effort and your attitude. Be positive! Do not give up and do not give in. The wonder of legal practice is the breadth of the opportunities it presents and the fact that for each bad day, there will be countless good ones. Mistakes are part of your work. You will make plenty (I still do). You will learn that mistakes can be corrected and that some of your most enduring professional relationships will be found over the making and solving of mistakes. Have fun!
The Law Society Medal is given for outstanding service within the profession, whether in the area of practice, in the academic sphere, or in some other professional capacity where the service is in accordance with the highest ideals of the legal profession. It may be awarded for devotion to professional duties over a long term or for a single outstanding act of service.
This year, 12 outstanding members of the legal professions will be honoured with Law Society awards on May 22nd.