Awards vital to publicize work having a lasting and positive impact, says lawyer
Lexpert and Canadian Lawyer are gathering the legal profession together once again to celebrate the industry’s most outstanding individuals, organizations, and achievements. Nominations open Monday morning for the fifth annual Canadian Law Awards.
There are just over 20 awards to submit nominations for, covering deals and cases, exceptional in-house departments and law firms, and awards for individuals and initiatives. Nominations close on Feb. 2 at 11:59 pm EST.
Lawyers often have their heads down, hard at work in a specific niche. Expert advisory panel judge Paul Fruitman says the public recognition of accomplishments within the legal sector is crucial in revealing important but obscure work.
“There's so much going on in the legal space – whether it's transactions or it’s cases – and a lot of them, people just don’t hear about. They’ll hear about the really big ones, but there is a lot of really important work that is being done that isn’t known broadly.”
While “the work is its own reward,” he says, it is essential to recognize those aiming to have a lasting and beneficial impact on others. Fruitman is a partner at Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, and it is his second year serving as a judge on the Canadian Law Awards expert advisory panel.
Nominations must be concise and directly address specific category criteria. They must be submitted on the nomination page of the law awards website. Once the submissions are in, the Canadian Law Awards team will research and draw on industry knowledge and information gained through Lexpert, Canadian Lawyer, and InHouse to identify the Excellence Awardees for each category.
The Canadian Law Awards will announce the Excellence Awardees in March and April, and the law awards team will provide the independent panel of judges with the submissions of each Excellence Awardee. The judging panel will assess and score each submission according to the criteria for the applicable category, and the judges' scores are aggregated to produce a winner in each category. Winners will be announced and celebrated at the 2024 Canadian Law Awards.
Fruitman, a commercial litigator and trial lawyer, says that when assessing submissions for outstanding cases, he is looking for those that have a “large impact because they advance the law in some regard.” Cases that also stand out are particularly challenging, but in which the candidate was able to find a way to achieve success despite the difficulty, he says.
While having a significant effect on the law weighs heavier than headline-grabbing cases with a broader societal impact, some cases sometimes demonstrate a cross-over between the two, says Fruitman.
“I point to a case that several of my partners were involved in last year, which is the Rogers merger,” he says. “This was the largest contested merger in Canadian history. It had a whole bunch of legal issues. At the same time, it's obviously affecting pretty much anyone who has a cell phone plan in this country.”
For Canada (Commissioner of Competition) v Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, Davies, and Bennett Jones LLP won Commercial Litigation Team of the Year at last year’s law awards.
Participating in the expert advisory panel is an excellent opportunity to see what’s going on in the legal sphere beyond one’s own practice, says Fruitman.
“We all have a lot going on, and we're all very busy. We don't often see outside the narrow world in which we personally operate. So, to see what others are doing – not only in our specific practice area but in other areas that we don't touch a lot – is a good exercise.”
The awards take place on Thursday, May 9, at the Liberty Grand in Toronto. The night begins at 6 pm EST with a cocktail reception. The awards ceremony will run from 7:30 to 10:30, followed by a post-awards celebration.