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Titan of the legal community, Eddie Greenspan, dead at 70

|Written By Gail J. Cohen
eddie greenspan
Eddie Greenspan 1944-2014 (Photo: Law Times archives)

He has been called the finest legal mind in Canada and a titan of the criminal bar, but today Eddie Greenspan passed away peacefully in his sleep in Phoeniz, Arizona. He was 70.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our senior partner, friend and father Eddie Greenspan,” his law firm Greenspan Partners announced on Twitter this morning.

Some of his most famous clients include Conrad Black, with whom the relationship was not 100-per-cent amicable, Garth Drabinsky, Robert Latimer, Karlheinz Schreiber, and members of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

He has been a mentor, teacher, and inspiration to lawyers in Canada for decades and has received numerous accolades from the profession including a number of honourary doctor of laws as well as the Law Society Medial in 2013, the Advocates’ Society Medal in 2009, and the G. Arthur Medal in 2001. His is also a long-time editor of Canada Law Book's

Martin's Criminal Code.

Upon receiving the Law Society Medal, Greenspan said this of his life as a lawyer:

The idea of the lawyer – the classical, central idea — that is — of the lawyer battling in the criminal courts – corresponds to a universal trait in the human family. I was irresistibly attracted to the lawyer’s role in that ultimate sense. I am happy in the role. It permits me to be both cynic and idealist. As a criminal lawyer, I have come to learn that things are seldom what they seem. No frailty surprises the criminal lawyer. Indeed, surprise is reserved for occasional confrontations of virtue. Nothing gives the criminal lawyer more pleasure and satisfaction than to win a difficult case against the pressure of inflamed opinion, vindicating the stirring principles of the legal tradition against all odds. Criminal lawyers have the blood of Don Quixote in their veins. Criminal lawyers demonstrate that an honourable lawyer can have an exciting life representing persons accused of crime.

Greenspan earned his LLB at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1968 and was called to the bar of Ontario in 1970 and Alberta in 1987. He was named Queen’s Counsel in 1982

His memorial will be held Dec. 28 at Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel in Toronto. More details to come.

Reaction from the legal community and beyond poured in on Twitter.

Updated 12:45: More details added.


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