The Top 25 Most Influential - In-House Counsel

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Posted Date: August 5, 2013


Fred Headon

Assistant general counsel, Labour and Employment, Air Canada, Montreal

Fred Headon is changing dynamics as the first in-house lawyer to be elected president of the Canadian Bar Association, a position he’ll be assuming this month. Headon heads the in-house labour and employment law team at Air Canada and brings a unique perspective to the association, traditionally led by private practice lawyers. At the helm of the CBA Legal Futures Initiative, he is a leading voice in the push for changes to the profession given the new realities of today’s legal market. As corporate counsel, he will bring a certain sensitivity to the pressures and expectations of both private practitioners and their clients. “Lead the change, or be forced to follow,” he has said about the profession. “Change is happening. It may not be happening everywhere at once, and it may not affect everyone to the same degree, but to ignore it could very well be folly.”

What voters had to say: “Very much looking forward to Fred’s upcoming year as our CBA national president; his perspective transcends his in-house counsel world and there’s no doubt he will be an effective advocate for lawyers and the rule of law in 2013-14.

Grant Borbridge

Executive vice president investments and chief counsel, Emergo Group of Companies, Calgary

Under Grant Borbridge’s leadership this past year, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, together with the Rotman School of Management, introduced a first-of-its-kind certification program for in-house counsel, which will be geared towards mid-level in-house lawyers who are aiming to become general counsel or business executives. In his day job, Borbridge is responsible for Emergo Group’s worldwide legal and compliance activities, a member of its Global Portfolio Investment Committee, and co-leader of its transactions team. He is also the current chairman of the Association of General Counsel of Alberta.

What the panel had to say: “Grant gives 150 per cent to everything he does.”

Norie Campbell

Group head, legal, compliance and anti money laundering, and general counsel, TD Bank Group, Toronto

Norie Campbell was appointed TD’s top legal counsel in April. She now leads a team of 60-some lawyers at Canada’s second-largest bank, at a time when TD is making serious inroads into the U.S. market. As a trailblazing woman in the in-house practice, Campbell has been named one of Canada’s “top 40 under 40” by a variety of influential publications. Her story will also appear in the upcoming book Breaking Through: Tales from the Top Canadian Women General Counsel, which highlights successful careers of Canadian women general counsel. She also participates in the Law Cabinet for United Way and is on the advisory board of the University of Toronto program on ethics in law and business.

What voters had to say: “Norie combines excellent legal skills with finely honed leadership talents. She enjoys the confidence of those she works with.”

Ken Fredeen
General counsel and secretary to the board, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Toronto

Ken Fredeen is involved in a number of community and diversity initiatives. He is responsible for Deloitte’s corporate responsibility mandate, chairs the firm’s diversity and inclusion council, and sponsors the Deloitte LGBT people’s network. Under his leadership, Fredeen and his legal department were last year awarded the Canadian General Counsel Award for social responsibility. Fredeen was recently the chairman of the government’s Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and he is an executive member and co-founder of Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of more than 70 general counsel dedicated to supporting diversity. He was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 for his community work.

What voters had to say: “Ken does an unbelievable amount of work for Legal Leaders for Diversity and is in many ways the engine of this group.”

Leslie O’Donoghue
Executive vice president, corporate development and strategy, and chief risk officer, Agrium Inc., Calgary

In her role at Agrium, Leslie O’Donoghue is responsible for handling several core areas of the agriculture giant’s business. She recently helped Agrium emerge victorious from a 10-month proxy battle with the hedge fund Jana Partners, Agrium’s largest shareholder. O’Donoghue helped prevent Jana from installing its own board members and breaking up the company. She established the Agrium Women’s Leadership Group, an organization created to provide mentoring, networking, and developmental opportunities for women within the company, and she is a member of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s leadership council.

What voters had to say: “What a terrific year Leslie has had . . . proxy battles are a TEST!”

This article prepared with the assistance of David Gruber.

Page 1:    Introduction
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

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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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