Lorne Sossin, former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Ontario.
Sossin says he has enjoyed his academic career, “terrific colleagues” and “thoughtful and talented students” and now, as a judge, he hopes to respond to the needs of diverse communities and protect public confidence in the justice system.
“If there has been an animating purpose in my work, and particularly in my role as Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School, it would be the goal of opening legal education to broader communities and bringing the issues of importance to those communities inside legal education,” Sossin told Legal Feeds via email.
Sossin began his legal career as law clerk to former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Antonio Lamer. Called to the bar in 1996, Sossin had a brief litigation practice at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP before becoming assistant professor at Osgoode in 1999. He then moved on to the University of Toronto Faculty of Law before being appointed Dean of Law at Osgoode in 2010, where he served for eight years.
Sossin has authored and co-authored 12 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters on topics including legal process, legal ethics, administrative law and civil litigation. He was named twice to Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers list.
“He'll be a big loss for Osgoode and for York University generally just because he's really been a wonderful leader as the Dean of the Law School,” says Mary Condon interim-dean and professor at Osgoode Hall.
Condon says that in Sossin’s tenure he expanded experiential learning and legal clinic programs, giving students more hands-on experience. A central theme to his legacy is his response to the Truth and Reconciliation commission’s calls to action concerning legal education and the enhancement of competency of Indigenous cultures and legal customs, changing the curriculum to reflect those perspectives, she says.
“It's certainly a great result for the legal system in Ontario,” Condon says.
Christopher Waters, dean of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, says Sossin has set the bar “really high” for law deans across the country.
“Both in terms of an ability to be a teaching leader, a thought leader and to engage meaningfully with bench, bar and the academy,” Waters says.
Sossin has built credibility with the profession by tackling issues such as access to justice and administrative fairness, he says.
“In addition to all of that he's just a person of a lot of integrity and has a lot of goodwill in the community and it’s a fantastic appointment,” Waters says.
Carissima Mathen was in Sossin’s year at Osgoode and is now professor of law and vice dean of the English program at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.
“It’s a wonderful appointment to the bench, I think Lorne is an incredible and accomplished legal thinker, who has been at the forefront of a number of really important debates in Canada over the role of the state, over administrative law, over legal ethics,” Mathen says. “He is a wonderful colleague, he’s extremely generous and kind and I’m sure that he will be a brilliant but also a compassionate judge.”
Sossin will replace Justice Elizabeth Stewart, who went supernumerary on Sept. 26.
Also appointed to the bench this week were Llana Nakonechny, family and estate litigator and partner at Dickson Appell and Jonathan Dawe, partner at Dawe & Dineen. They will replace Frances Kiteley and Elizabeth Quinlan.