The Top 25 Most Influential - Page 2
- Subtitle: Cover Story
Partner, Torkin Manes LLP, and former treasurer, Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto
A family law lawyer, Laurie Pawlitza wrapped up her two-year stint as treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada in June — only the third woman to hold the position in the LSUC’s 214-year history. She has been a bencher since 2003, and was a director of legal insurer LawPRO for five years. Her knowledge of the issues facing the legal profession runs deep and she has been instrumental in finally addressing the articling crisis in Ontario with the first meaningful step of putting together a task force and really starting a dialogue within the profession on how to fix the issue. As co-chairwoman of the law society’s retention of women in private practice project, she has also played a key role in launching the Justicia program and creating a variety of other support systems for women lawyers at firms of all sizes in order to help them continue their careers in private practice.
What voters had to say: “She has been a breath of fresh air and has truly reinvigorated a moribund organization dominated for too long by staid, privileged white males.”
Dianne G. Corbiere
Partner, Nahwegahbow Corbiere Genoodmagejig, Rama, Ont.
Dianne Corbiere is a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation and has been a partner with her firm since 2000. She is a past president of the Indigenous Bar Association and is the chairwoman for the National Secretariat Against Hate and Racism in Canada. Corbiere is considered a strong advocate for the cause of First Nations. During her time as president of the IBA, she was instrumental in advocating for Aboriginal inclusion in the appellate courts of Canada and the revitalization of indigenous traditions.
What voters had to say: “Dianne has been a legal defender and, therefore, changemaker in First Nation and Aboriginal circles for a number of years. She is not only an excellent advocate, but as an Anishinabe Kwe or female lawyer, she is a further role model in a professional field that has low rates of participation.”
President and chief executive officer, Plan Canada, Toronto
Rosemary McCarney has had an extensive international career in law, business, and the not-for-profit sector. She has worked in more than 100 countries and is recognized as an influential leading executive in the NGO sector and has been named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women. McCarney practised corporate law in the United States but 20 years ago returned to Canada to co-establish an international development consulting firm with a focus on international trade and investment work and an emphasis on the role of women in international development. Recently, she has been particularly active in the movement to empower young girls in Canada and around the world.
What voters had to say: “Rosemary is a trailblazer in bringing the newly-declared UN International Day of the Girl, which aims to celebrate the rights of girls all over the world. She is a highly sought spokesperson and thought leader on law, business, as well as social justice and development issues.”
Partner, Heenan Blaikie LLP, Vancouver/Victoria
A former attorney general of the province, Geoff Plant has spoken out bravely and boldly on many social issues that affect British Columbia, including housing, homelessness, and drug use. He has always put citizens’ legal and electoral rights first and is a keen advocate of aboriginal rights. In February, he was one of four former B.C. attorneys general who penned a letter to the current AG in support of legalizing marijuana. He has also been quite vocal in his calls on the province’s judiciary to engage constructively in the B.C. government’s ongoing judicial reform initiatives rather than just stand for the status quo.
What the panel had to say: “Geoff Plant isn’t afraid to speak his mind on the tough issues and speak truth to power.”
Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto
As dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and previously as a law professor at the University of Toronto, Lorne Sossin has been at the vanguard of access-to-justice efforts. Recently, he was a member of the steering committee of
U of T’s access to middle-income justice initiative, a multi-pronged initiative aimed at addressing the growing problem of middle-income access to the civil justice system in Canada. In many other ways, he has been at the forefront of these issues and a leader in the profession of law: He is a founding director of the Centre for the Legal Profession and has been a member of the steering committee of Ontario’s joint civil legal needs study, and served as research director for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s task force on the independence of the bar.
What voters had to say: “One of the best professors I had in my undergraduate studies at
U of T and in law at Osgoode, Lorne Sossin continues to show a level of knowledge and commitment to the legal profession that makes him a leading changemaker in Canadian law.”
Next: Top 5 in Criminal/Human Rights Law
One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the editorial director of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, responsible for the editorial direction of all the publications in the group, which also includes Candian Lawyer InHouse, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, and the daily Legal Feeds blog. Gail has been covering the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, putting her in a prime position to access and engage thought leaders in the regulatory, legal, and business realms. Canadian Lawyer and its editorial team have been the recipients of many journalism awards and their publications are highly respected throughout the legal profession in Canada and abroad.