Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

June 20, 2008 14:20 ET

Law Society Presents Two Honorary Doctorates at Toronto Call to the Bar Ceremonies

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 20, 2008) - The Law Society of Upper Canada presented degrees of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LL.D.), to two distinguished members of the profession: the Honourable Justice Frank N. Marrocco, and the Honourable Vibert A. Lampkin, at ceremonies held to welcome 874 of the province's new lawyers at Roy Thomson Hall on June 19 and 20.

Every year, as part of its Call ceremonies, the Law Society awards honorary doctorates to distinguished persons who exemplify the values held in esteem by the legal profession. Recipients serve as inspirational keynote speakers for the graduating classes as they begin their careers.

On June 19, Justice Marrocco received an LL.D. for his distinguished legal career and his many contributions to the profession. On June 20, an LL.D. was presented to former Justice Lampkin for his service to the judiciary, the legal profession and the wider community in Canada - as well as his native country Guyana - with integrity and distinction for more than 40 years.

(Please see the attached biographical information for both LL.D. recipients.)

The Law Society also held two other ceremonies - in Ottawa and London on June 13 and 16 respectively - to call this year's 293 new lawyers from those regions to the Ontario Bar.

At each ceremony, Law Society Treasurer Gavin MacKenzie congratulated the new lawyers and offered some words of advice: "You have joined a noble profession... We are committed to the rule of law in a democratic society. We are also committed to an independent Bar and an independent judiciary." He also told lawyers that the profession has a duty to promote access to justice for all, through legal aid, pro bono work and other means.

The Law Society of Upper Canada governs the legal profession in Ontario in the public interest by ensuring that its members meet high standards of learning, competence and ethics.

The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

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The Honourable Justice Frank N. Marrocco

The Honourable Justice Frank N. Marrocco was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in 2005, following a distinguished law career spanning 33 years. He is well known for his professionalism, analytical skills and quiet contemplation - skills that served him well as a lawyer and have ensured his effectiveness as a judge.

Justice Marrocco received his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto in 1970 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1972. He practised criminal and civil litigation law and later developed a subspecialty in immigration law. A former Queen's Counsel, he was a partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson prior to his judicial appointment.

Over the years, he worked on many high-profile cases, which included defending Lawrencia Bembenek - whose struggles to resist deportation or extradition to the US attracted much media interest. He also represented former Toronto City Counsellor Norman Gardner in his dispute with the Toronto Police Services Board. As well, he was the lead prosecutor in the Bre-X Securities prosecution, and was the lead counsel for the province of Ontario in the Walkerton Inquiry.

Justice Marrocco is an accomplished legal author whose credits include the Annotated Immigration Act of Canada and the Annotated Citizenship Act of Canada. He has also served as Vice-Chair of the University of Toronto Academic Disciplinary Tribunal and is a Judicial Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

He was elected as a Law Society bencher in 1995, and chaired several committees. He also served as Chair of the Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company (LawPRO) from 2002 to 2003.

Recognized for his leadership skills, he was elected as Treasurer of the Law Society in 2003. In this role, he endeavoured to strengthen the profession and protect its independence by promoting access to justice and by fortifying the Law Society's relationships with government and stakeholders.

The Honourable Vibert Arthur Ridley Lampkin:

The Honourable Vibert A. Lampkin is a recently retired judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. Throughout his career, he earned a reputation as a leader of the court, a trailblazer and a mentor to the many lawyers who appeared before him.

Born in Guyana, he earned his first law degree from the University of London in 1957 and successfully wrote the final examination of The Law Society of England in 1958. He was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Guyana in 1959 where he had a general law practice until June 1967. He was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in England in 1965, and then called to the Ontario Bar in 1969. He earned his Master of Laws degree from York University in 1977.

He practised with the firm Rosenfeld, Schwartz, Malcolmson, Lampkin & Levine until 1982 when he was appointed to the Provincial Court (Criminal Division), which was renamed the Ontario Court of Justice in 1999. He was one of the first Black judges in the province.

Until his retirement this year, he served in Newmarket, where he was known for his knowledge of the law, civility and contribution to the body of criminal law, with 286 reported cases. Everyone who appeared or worked in his court was aware of his respect and compassion for people.

Mr. Lampkin's judicial philosophy is summed up in an often-quoted passage from his mentor, Lord Denning, writing in Packer v Packer in 1954:

What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The rest of the world will go on whilst the law stands still, and that would be bad for both.

Mr. Lampkin was formerly a director of Oxfam (Canada) and is director emeritus of New Leaf: Living and Learning Together Inc. He is a supporter of many charitable organizations.

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