Osgoode Hall Law School shines spotlight on its best and brightest

Diversity of winners of annual awards something to celebrate

Osgoode Hall Law School shines spotlight on its best and brightest
Winners showcase the talent that’s attracted to, shaped by and launched from Osgoode Hall Law School.

Exclusive feature

Excellence, innovation and leadership are what Osgoode Hall Law School is known for, and the winners of the school’s annual alumni awards embody those qualities. At all different ages, stages and areas of practice, 2021’s recipients of the Deans Gold Key Awards, the Dianne Martin Medal and the Mentor of the Year awards have a diverse range of experiences, achievements and contributions and are representative of the law school’s outstanding graduates.

The Gold Key Awards

The Gold Key Awards are a long-standing tradition of recognizing dedicated leadership by alumni of Osgoode Hall Law School, and the honourees over the years include a long line of luminaries of the Ontario Bar, among them Brian Greenspan 71, Dale Lastman 82, Patrick LeSage 61, Kathleen Taylor 84, John Tory 78, Jane Pepino 70, 71 (LLM) and Karen M. Weiler 67, 74 (LLM).

We are grateful to our many outstanding alumni who are leaders and trailblazers in the profession and who act as mentors to our students,” says Mary Condon, dean of Osgoode.

Selected from a deep pool of exceptional nominees, this year two alumni received the Gold Key Award for Achievement, one received the award for Service, one for Public Sector and one was recognized with the One-to-Watch award.

A former Attorney General of Ontario and now a partner of Benson Percival Brown LLP and recognized Specialist in Civil Litigation by the Law Society of Ontario, David S. Young made his mark on the law through a number of high-profile cases that have shaped the direction of tort and contract law in Canada including Sanofi Pasteur Limited v. UPS SCS, Inc. in 2015 and Broutzas v. Rouge Valley Health System in 2018. A 1981 LLB graduate, he can count his three children among his nominators and his influence was such that they all followed him into the law, with two of them becoming fellow Osgoode alumni. As Attorney General of Ontario, he introduced a comprehensive case management program, expanded the monetary limit for simplified procedure cases and introduced legislation reforming the Limitations Act. The Young children say these achievements pale in comparison to his dedication to both the practice of law and his community and family.” They attribute much of their success in life to the lessons Young taught them, both explicitly and by example, about compassion, ambition and hard work.”

Justice Harry S. LaForme, an Anishinabe of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation in Ontario, dedicated his career to Indigenous law and justice. Following his graduation from Osgoode in 1977 and after a stint on Bay Street at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, he opened his own  practice specializing in Indigenous law with a focus on matters involving the Constitution and the  Charter and he appeared at every level of Canadian court. He served on numerous task forces and commissions dealing with Indigenous issues and taught a course on Rights of Indigenous People at his alma mater before becoming one of then only three Indigenous judges appointed  to the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. He became the first Indigenous judge appointed to an appellate court in Canadas history when he joined the bench of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004. Following his retirement in 2018, he joined Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP as senior counsel. A life-long and passionate advocate, LaForme writes and speaks frequently on Indigenous issues, Indigenous law, constitutional law and civil, equality and human rights.

A 1979 graduate of Osgoode, Justice Michelle Fuerst was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario in 2002 and assigned to the Central East Region, where she presides primarily over criminal law cases. With a long-standing interest in continuing legal education, Fuerst was a member of the Adjunct Faculty of Osgoode Hall Law School for many years. For over a decade, she served as a co-chair of the Federation of Law Societies annual National Criminal Law Program and currently chairs the Criminal Law Program of the CIAJ/NJI Seminar for New Federally Appointed Judges. She is a frequent presenter at continuing legal education programs for the judiciary and the bar, and is a prolific author and editor of various legal texts. Her nominators note her contributions to the legal field are numerous and varied,” and as her  career carries on, her list of accomplishments continue to grow.”

Anil Kapoor, who has been awarded the Gold Key Award for Service, graduated from Osgoode in 1986 and has been dedicated to his alma mater ever since. From end-to-end Kapoor was there for Osgoodes students, from participating in the first day of law school and introducing the Alumni Association to standing on stage to congratulate graduates at convocation. With the students top-of-mind he constantly sought out new ways to support them, including organizing panel discussions on mental wellness. Kapoor was a member of the Osgoode Alumni Board from 2007-20 and served as president for the last four years, was adjunct faculty at Osgoode, is  a regular lecturer at Continuing Legal Education Seminars sponsored by the Law Society of Ontario, Federal Department of Justice, Ontario Court of Justice education programs, Ontario Crown Attorneys Association, Criminal Lawyers Association and the Advocates Society. Outside of his affiliation with Osgoode, he practices criminal law and regulatory law and has appeared numerous times before the Supreme Court of Canada and provincial courts of appeal  in Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

For the Gold Key One-to-Watch, one of Martin Huis nominators describes his trajectory as stemming from humble origins to the heights of local law and finance.” Hui graduated from Osgoode in 2014 and worked as an associate with Davis Polk & Wardell LLP for almost five years before becoming in-house counsel focusing on mergers and acquisitions and investment  banking at BMO Capital Markets in New York City. Huis nominator adds that it was clear from his first days at law school that Huiwould achieve incredible things that would transform his life and the lives of the people and communities he touched along the way.” Hui led efforts to establish major scholarships and funding initiatives to assist Osgoode students in financial need, including the schools landmark Income Contingent Loan Program, and in his career now  he continues to pair professional achievements with social and philanthropic work. Hui founded  Everyones Canada, a non-profit, in 2018 to combat rising xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada and most recently established a podcast that profiles frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another nominator calls him accomplished yet humble — and highly driven to succeed, no matter where his career took him.”

These distinguished Osgoode alumni make their mark in Canada through their outstanding achievement, their public service and their service to the profession and to Osgoode Hall Law  School,” says Patricia Olasker, Alumni Association president. Martin exemplifies the One-to-Watch category, a young lawyer of great promise who demonstrates the same drive for excellence.”

The Dianne Martin Medal

The Dianne Martin Medal is awarded to a member of the Canadian legal community who exemplifies the late Dianne Martins commitment to law as an instrument for achieving social  justice and fairness, and for her many nominators, Cherie Daniel does just that.

Fiercely committed to breaking down barriers in academia, Daniels doctoral research at the University of Toronto for her Ph. D. in Social Justice Education is focused on the experiences of Black women in law schools, academia and the legal profession. One nominator, Dr. Rosalind Hampton, assistant professor of Black Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education who is     supervising Daniels research, calls Danieleager to build the breadth and depth of her knowledge and contribute to Black feminist legal studies and legal education in meaningful ways.”

Daniel is a recognized community leader who dedicates her time to important projects such as providing mentorship, support and representation to Black and international students and in 2020 she launched a National Black Graduate Network. A criminal defence lawyer, another nominator says Daniels practice was 85% legal aid work, mostly defending Black youth, and in Daniel’s own words looking at my community through the lens of both a Black woman and lawyer is social justice work.”

The Mentor of the Year Award

Osgoodes final award is The Mentor of the Year Award, bestowed upon an alumnus who is part of the Osgoode Mentor Program, which connects mentors to current upper-year JD students looking for advice on anything from course selection to careers. This years winner is Zachary DOnofrio, a 2016 graduate, who is now counsel at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry where his current responsibilities include a mix of barrister and solicitor work including prosecutions, hearings before administrative tribunals and solicitor work advising ministry clients. Despite his busy career, DOnofrios mentee said she could not imagine having had a more friendly, kind, useful (in terms of his insight and guidance) or supportive mentor” who has consistently been there for her. He always gave great, nuanced advice, and went above and beyond in terms of editing my cover letters and conducting mock interviews with me of serious depth,” she says. Prior to being called to the bar, DOnofrio completed the joint Juris Doctor and  Master of Environmental Studies degree at Osgoode Hall Law School and York University. In addition to the Osgoode Hall Law School Mentor Program, he has participated in Osgoodes Environmental Law Society career panel and a variety of other mentoring programs.

As Osgoode continues to seek out and celebrate a diverse cross-section of the best and the  brightest, Olasker takes pride in reflecting on the growing list of honourees over the years.

It is a stunning reminder of the talent and passion that is attracted to, shaped by and ultimately launched from our law school.”

To read full bios of the winners and learn more about Osgoode Hall Law School’s annual    awards, visit the awards page here.

Recent articles & video

Live and Learn: reflections on life and the law from retired Osler M&A king Clay Horner

Ontario Superior Court certifies class action against CIBC for duplicate fees

BC Court of Appeal rejects speculative testimony on potential earnings in personal injury case

Ontario Superior Court rules wife and mother share ownership of disputed property in divorce case

BC Supreme Court denies special costs in dismissed workplace sexual harassment case

Ontario Superior Court dismisses bid to quash unpaid wage orders issued by the Ministry of Labour

Most Read Articles

Ontario Superior Court rules wife and mother share ownership of disputed property in divorce case

Kirkland & Ellis faces lawsuit over data breach involving MOVEit software

'Go, Mom!' How a divorce prompted this USask law grad to travel the long road to becoming a lawyer

Roundup of law firm hires, promotions, departures: June 17, 2024 update