The Top 25 Most Influential

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Posted Date: August 5, 2013
The popular Canadian Lawyer Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada is back for the fourth year. The Top 25 is always one of the magazine’s most-read, and most commented-on, features. As expected, not everyone agrees with our choices, but it is always worthwhile to get our readers into the debate. This year, we continued with our tried and true formula of asking for nominations from legal groups and associations representing a variety of memberships and locations; last year’s Top 25 list; our general readership; and our internal panel of writers and editors. We received more than 90 nominations, which the internal panel whittled down to the 85 candidates who met our criteria. We then posted the list online and once again asked our readers to participate, which they did in spades. An astounding 4,636 people voted and commented on those who they thought were the most influential this year. This final list is based on that poll with input and the last word from the internal panel.

The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals, or number of media mentions — although those may play a part. We have endeavoured to select lawyers who have been influential within the profession as well as Canadian society over the last 18 months. Closing a high-worth deal, for instance, doesn’t necessarily have a big impact beyond that particular business or industry. The Top 25 is about a level of respect, the ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of this country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement. It can include regulators and politicians — although former Justice and Public Safety ministers Rob Nicholson and Vict Toews were shut out this year.

Once again, we split the list up into five areas of influence, changing them slightly from last year, and have chosen the top five in each of: corporate-commercial law; changemakers; criminal and human rights law; government, associations, and non-profits including public inquiries and officers of Parliament; and have brought back the in-house counsel category. Nominees were put in the category in which the individual exercised their influence in the time period.

A number of previous winners are back this year, such as B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman, Vancouver criminal lawyer Joseph Arvay, Osgoode Hall Law dean Lorne Sossin, and the University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist. This year’s list also sees a strong cohort of new movers and shakers including corruption expert Kristine Robidoux, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella, Quebec corruption inquiry chairwoman Justice France Charbonneau, incoming Canadian Bar Association president Fred Headon, and a group of highly respected changemakers.

Some of our winners proved to be quite controversial including Joe Groia, whose nomination one voter called “a travesty that cheapens this entire exercise.” However the majority of comments lauded his efforts in the battle with the Law Society of Upper Canada over civility in the courtroom. Echoing the sentiments of many, one voter noted: “His commitment to his clients and his beliefs is to be rewarded, not punished!” Ontario’s ombudsman André Marin is often criticized for his brash style but he received more positive comments on his nomination than any other candidate in the Top 25.

So without further ado, here are the 2013 Top 25 Most Influential. They are listed with the top vote getter in each category first, followed by the others in alphabetical order.

Disagree with the choices? Did we miss someone obvious? Post your feedback at below or e-mail it to clb.cleditor@thomsonreuters.com.

Page 2:    Top 5 in Corporate-Commercial Law
Page 3:    Top 5 Changemakers
Page 4:    Top 5 in Criminal Law/Human Rights
Page 5:    Top 5 in Government/Non-Profits/Associations
Page 6:    Top 5 In-House Counsel
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next > End >>
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Comments   

0 # Court ClerkEileen Cummins 2016-06-05 20:38
Ms. Cheryl Goodier is a hard working, tenacious, passionate crown attorney who advocates for those who have been victims of child abuse and/or sexual abuse. She makes a difference in this world.
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0 # missthabsile 2014-01-17 14:46
this is the best criminal laywer
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+1 # Be proactive not reactiveAnon 2013-08-07 17:38
If you want to see a variety of different names and faces in the list, you should nominate lawyers whom you feel are deserving of the honour. All the people listed here were nominated by someone else. They didn't pick the names out of a hat.
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-5 # Response to Harry BlaierMartha Abbott 2013-08-07 13:58
Mr Blaier, I don't have to meet you to know that you are white. I did my homework before responding to you. If you are not Harry Blaier from a law firm in Toronto and from U of Toronto, then I must be mistaken - however, I am pretty sure that I am not. Please do not purport to lecture to me about logic and fairness. You have already shown your prejudice by the implications in your comments that recognising minority lawyers` achievements in this context would be tantamount to tokenism. It is people like you, who pretend to be impartial, who are the real obstacles to fairness and justice for minorities in the legal profession in Canada. Please show me in which years a minority, who was not Native & Canadian, was selected for this esteemed list. Yet, you would have us believe that this selection process is fair and unbiased. Trying to convince a white man of the existence of racism and prejudice - there`s a first.
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-5 # Response to Harry BlaierMartha Abbott 2013-08-07 10:51
Naturally, the minute that someone stands up for the blatant prejudice shown to minorities in the legal profession, we get the racists like you, Harry, who also suggest that selecting a minority would be based only on tokenism. My point, which you chose to miss, is that out of the significant number of minority lawyers in Canada, who are all high achievers - based on their merit and despite the prejudice they encounter daily - not one managed to be selected. Perhaps you never read the statistics and reports about prejudice at the Bar. But then, we are asking those who perpetrate the prejudice, to try to understand the insidious effects of it - not really in their interests, is it? The irony is that some of those selected are called champions of "diversity" but even a casual glance at their employees will reveal a lily-white brigade. Of course, no one expects people like you to understand, from your Ivory Tower- pun intended.
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0 # LawyerHarry Blaier 2013-08-07 11:54
Oh my. First, I just don't "get it" and then I'm an out and out racist. I certainly hope, Ms. Abbott, that in the course of your practice you bring a bit more logic to bear. You call me a racist simply for disagreeing with you. This old fallacy of logic is called "poisoning the well"--i.e. if you can't assail the argument, attack the proponent. Must the conclusion be that the selection committee is comprised of racists or that they only "see" white and are insensitive to the visible (or other) minority communities? As for your so-called pun, I am not aware of having ever met you, Ms. Abbott, so I wonder why you jump to the conclusion that "from [my] Ivory Tower", I am white. Can it be that you believe people of colour are incapable of bringing logic to bear? I happen not to share that view.
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-4 # Response to Harry BlaierMartha Abbott 2013-08-07 10:44
Naturally, the minute that anyone attempts to highlight the prejudice against minority lawyers in Canada, we get people like Harry Blaier who are quick to jump on the bandwagon that minorities may just not have been very good that year. Apparently, the world that you live in is fair and everything happens on merit - the delusion that Canadians love to peddle for the rest of the world. In which other year have those minorities been good enough for you? Perhaps you never read the news about the discrimination suffered by minority lawyers in Canada. My point, which you so obviously missed, is not that people should be recognised on the basis of tokenism. Rather, out of the significant number of black and other visible minority lawyers in Canada, not one managed to be good enough to be selected. People were selected who claim the champion diversity - the irony is that when you look at their work colleagues you will see only the lily white. Maybe you didn't notice from your ivory tower.
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+1 # LawyerHarry Blaier 2013-08-07 08:50
I respond to the comment of Ms. Abbott, in which her opening 4 words belie her sarcasm and then spirals downward from there. I would think that selections of this kind should be based on merit, not "minority visibility". Is it not possible that in any given year, a visible minority simply does not make it to the top of the the selection process? Ms. Abbott seems to prefer the belief that discrimination is the only explanation for the result. Apparently the demand for tokenism is alive and well in some quarters.
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+12 # NoneJoanne Shiers 2013-08-07 06:57
As my late grandmother used to say, there are a lot of high falutin people on this list. I mean, a SCC judge. The head of a big firm. The head of a faculty... I've worked in big firms and in-house. In my experience, the more expensive the car, the less interesting and influential the lawyer. How about highlighting the REAL lawyers in this country? The ones who work in the trenches and out on the streets where law matters. I don't want to see yet more Benz lawyers who spend their days lunching in fancy suits and even fancier restaurants. I want to see lawyers whose work is not televised.
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-7 # Not one Visible MinorityMartha Abbott 2013-08-06 18:04
Always great to see that not one visible minority made it to your hallowed list out of such a significant proportion in the legal profession. just not good enough for you, right?
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0 # Your facts are skewedGertrude Shnibbery 2013-08-07 16:08
Pam Palmater is Mi'kmaq, a visible minority. Aboriginal people represent about 4% of Canada, and 4% of this list. This may not be enough for you, but I think it is important to acknowledge that this list reflects some diversity, and more importantly, recognizes and affirms the importance of Palmater's work in Aboriginal governance. Furthermore, this list honours the work of lawyers working for minority rights, showing that this is a concern in the profession. Your comments are extreme, imprudent, and demonstrate a knee jerk reaction to this list.
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0 # Dear Gertrude...Martha Abbott 2013-08-07 17:36
So, Gertrude, to use your logic, since 9.2% of the lawyers in Canada are visible minorities, shouldn't there be a 9.2% representation of them on this list? Oh, shock, horror, there isn't?! You are right about one thing, though, no; it is not enough for me nor for the significant proportion of minority lawyers who have to contend with prejudice and racism at the Bar and with colleagues like you, who love to try to invalidate the experiences that they have on an almost daily basis. By refusing to even countenance the fact that there may be bias, people like you help to maintain the status quo, by not asking the right questions. I really am very tired of having to explain myself on this forum to people who have no interest in learning. This is the last from me. Goodbye.
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+3 # RE: Dear Gertrude...Gertrude Shnibbery 2013-08-07 17:56
If 9% of the lawyers on the list had been visible minorities, that would mean that there would be 2 visible minorities on the list. There is 1 visible minority on the list. Over this statistically insignificant difference, you label the profession and anyone who disagrees with you as racist, biassed, and opposed to equal rights. The evidence - namely the recognition of Ms. Palmater and others advocating for minority rights - indicates the opposite of what you believe. Good day, madam.
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Gail J. Cohen

One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the former editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, who was 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 covered the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, which had put 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.

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