Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

June 03, 2008 16:05 ET

Media Advisory-Law Society awards honour commitment to the profession

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 3, 2008) - The Law Society of Upper Canada will present awards to 10 lawyers who represent the highest level of achievement and commitment to serving society and the profession. The Law Society Medal, the Lincoln Alexander Award and the first ever Laura Legge Award will be presented by Treasurer Gavin MacKenzie at a special ceremony at Osgoode Hall on June 5, 2008.

Established in 1985, the Law Society Medal is the Law Society's highest honour and is presented to outstanding Ontario lawyers whose service reflects the highest ideals of the profession. The award is given for outstanding service whether in a particular area of practice, in the academic sphere, or in some other professional capacity. This year's Law Society Medal (LSM) recipients are: Earl Cherniak Q.C., Kirby Chown, John F Evans, Q.C., Abraham Feinstein, Q.C., Clifford Lax, Q.C., Audrey Loeb, Sidney Troister and David Ward, Q.C.

The Lincoln Alexander Award is presented to one lawyer each year who has demonstrated a commitment to the public and its well-being through community service. The award was created in 2002 in honour of former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Member of Parliament, and 2002 Law Society Medal recipient The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, P.C., C.C., O.Ont., Q.C., to reward his dedication to the people of Ontario and the legal community. This year's recipient of the Lincoln Alexander Award is Morley Wolfe, Q.C.

The Laura Legge Award is presented for the first time this year and recognizes one Ontario woman lawyer who has exemplified leadership within the profession. The award was established in 2007 in honour of Laura Legge, O. Ont, Q.C., the first woman ever elected as a bencher of the Law Society and the first woman to serve as Treasurer. This year's recipient of the Laura Legge Award is Susan Elliott.

Law Society Medals Ceremony

When: Thursday, June 5, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Law Society of Upper Canada, Convocation Hall 130 Queen Street West, Toronto

The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates the lawyers and paralegals of Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society ensures that every individual who practises law or provides legal services in Ontario meets standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct that are appropriate for the legal services provided.

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. Photo and biographical information for the medallists will be available after the ceremony online at the Law Society website,

Biographical information is attached to this media advisory.


2008 Law Society Medal Recipients

Earl A. Cherniak Q.C., Toronto, called to the Ontario Bar in 1960.

Earl Cherniak is a leading litigation practitioner with Lerners LLP in a number of areas, including product liability, class actions, directors and officers liability, commercial insurance litigation, corporate commercial litigation, personal injury, securities litigation and defamation. He regularly acts as a commercial arbitrator and is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration and of the Canadian panel of arbitrators of the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Mr. Cherniak has served as a commissioner of the Ontario Law Reform Commission and counsel to the Royal Commission on Metropolitan Toronto Police Practices. He served as a bencher at the Law Society and chaired the Proceeding Authorization Committee from 1999-2007. He was for many years a sessional professor at the University of Western Ontario and was a senior instructor in the Bar Admission Course in London. He writes extensively and instructs in CLE on a variety of topics. Mr. Cherniak is a past president of The Advocates' Society, an elected fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the recipient of the Advocates Society Medal in 1996. Mr. Cherniak was the first recipient of the Ontario Bar Association Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation in 2004, and received the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Gold Key Award in 2006. He has also contributed to his community, serving as the vice-chair of the board of directors of Victoria Hospital, director of the Canadian Weizmann Society and patron of Partners in Research, and has been actively involved in fundraising for the London Health Sciences Centre and the University of Western Ontario.

Kirby Chown, Toronto, called to the Ontario Bar in 1981.

Kirby Chown is recognized as both a superb practitioner and a leader on women's initiatives within her firm and the profession as a whole. She has been the Ontario regional managing partner of McCarthy Tetrault LLP since 2002. She is a leading member of the family law and civil litigation bars, and was counsel in the Grange Inquiry into the deaths at Sick Children's Hospital and the Dubin Commission into drugs in sports. She has introduced a number of innovative practices to her firm to improve opportunities for women and develop family friendly policies that assist all young lawyers. An example of this is the Women's Initiative Network, which has had a profound impact on the culture of the firm and opportunities for women. Importantly, she shares her experience by providing advice to other firms that want to initiate programs to help women, as well as mentoring women lawyers. She also contributes to the community as the founder and co-chair of an initiative supporting the Art Gallery's education programs called smART women; a member of the United Way Cabinet and co founder of a new initiative Women Gaining Ground focused on women donors; patron of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation; past president of the University of Toronto Law Alumni Association; chair of the University of Toronto Academic Tribunal; and director of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. In 2005, she was selected by the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law as one of their twenty most prominent women graduates, and in 2006 the Women's Executive Network cited her as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. Ms. Chown recently won the Women Law Association of Ontario's President's Award.

John F. Evans, Q.C., Hamilton, called to the Bar in 1965.

John Evans has had a distinguished career as an advocate practising in civil litigation with his firm Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP. He has served the legal community in many different capacities, particularly as past president of The Advocates' Society, the Hamilton Law Association and the Hamilton Medical-Legal Society. He has served as an executive-at-large for the CBAO, as a member of the Ontario and National Councils. In 1994, he received the Emilius Irving Award from the Hamilton Law Association for outstanding contribution to the Association. In 2001, he received the Ontario Bar Association Award for Distinguished Service and in 2008 the OBA Award for Excellence in Insurance Law. Mr. Evans has served as chair of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Appointments (Southwestern Ontario). He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has participated in numerous CLE and trial advocacy programs. Mr. Evans is involved in his community, having acted as governor and chair, and now honorary governor, of the Dundas Valley School of Art and president of the Hamilton Regional Arts Council. For his service to McMaster University, including chairing the President's Club, he was named an Honorary Alumni of McMaster. Mr. Evans has led the local Bar in charitable endeavours, spearheading a fundraising drive for the United Way of Hamilton/Burlington focused on the presence of a Supreme Court of Canada judge at the annual Sopinka United Way Luncheon. As founding chair, he was also instrumental in establishing the Sopinka Cup Society and its annual trial moot for law students across Canada.

Abraham Feinstein, Q.C., Ottawa, called to Bar in 1965.

Abraham Feinstein has extensive experience in real estate financings, acquisitions and development, practising with the firm Soloway Wright. He has been a bencher at the Law Society since 1991, and a director of LAWPRO since 2006. He is a past president of the County of Carleton Law Association and the recipient of the Association's highest honour, the Carleton Medal. He was a founding director of the County and District Law Presidents' Association, which has since become an important voice of the legal profession. He is a past president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and was instrumental in the development of the National Mobility Agreement, which allows lawyers from the eight relevant jurisdictions to offer legal services to clients across Canada. In addition, as chair of the Federation's National Technology Committee, he spearheaded the idea of a virtual law library, which led to the establishment of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). More recently, Mr. Feinstein was integrally involved in the successful challenge by the Federation to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. He is a mentor to members of his firm, as well as practitioners in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, and has devoted a great deal of time to teaching at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law and for the Bar Admission Course. Mr. Feinstein is also an honorary president of the Ottawa YM/YWCA.

Clifford Lax, Q.C., Toronto, called to the Bar in 1970.

Clifford Lax is one of Canada's leading litigators, with extensive experience in major litigation and arbitration work with an emphasis on complex corporate commercial and securities cases, libel and slander, insolvency and environmental issues. As counsel at Lax O'Sullivan Scott, he acts as senior counsel in leading cases before a wide variety of courts and tribunals. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he is also a past chair of the Ontario Province committee of that College, past president of the Advocates' Society and a member of the Toronto Bench and Bar Committee. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association, Commercial Panel of Arbitrator and Mediation, as well as the American Dispute Resolution Centre. He has lectured at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, and received the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto in recognition of his contribution to that body. Mr. Lax is a committed environmentalist, having held board positions with the Canadian Environmental Law Research Foundation, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the CBA National Environmental Law Section and the Canadian Institute of Resources Law. He is a director of the Wilderness Research Foundation, and past director of Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, the Rotman Research Institute and the Quetico Foundation.

Audrey Loeb, B.A. LL.B, LL.M., Toronto, called to the Bar in 1974

Audrey Loeb is a leading member of the Ontario real estate bar and associate counsel and co-chair of the condominium practice group at Miller Thomson LLP. She is the author of the leading texts on condominium law, Condominium: Law and Administration and The Condominium Act: A User's Manual. She was this year's recipient of the OBA's Real Property Section Award of Excellence. She is professor emeritus of Ryerson University School of Business Management. Also active in her community, Ms Loeb is a past member of the board of directors of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, where she founded and chaired the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. This event has raised over $78 million for the Foundation since its inception in 2003 and over $180 million across Canada. She is currently a member of the board of directors of Bridgepoint Hospital.

Sidney H. Troister, Toronto, called to the Bar in 1974.

Sidney Troister is a senior partner in the commercial real estate group of Torkin Manes, and is one of the leading members of the real estate bar in Ontario. From 1990 to 2001, he was co-head of the real estate section of the Bar Admission course. In 2000, he received the OBA Award for Excellence in Real Estate, and he is a past member of the executive of the Real Property Section of the OBA. He frequently participates in CLE programmes, including chairing the Annual Real Estate Law Summit for the Law Society. Mr. Troister has authored many books and articles on real estate law issues, including his celebrated Planning Act textbook, The Law of Subdivision Control in Ontario, which is heavily relied upon by the bench and the bar of Ontario. Noted as a real estate problem solver, he regularly acts as counsel to LAWPRO, advising and helping to settle claims relating to professional negligence in real estate matters, and has been instrumental in defining the profession's position with respect to real estate fraud, serving on the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Committee with the Ministry of Government Services.

David Ward, Q.C., Toronto, called to the Bar in 1958.

David Ward is a founding partner of Toronto firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg. He played an integral part in establishing the culture of that firm which is renowned for quality and service, as well as innovation in taxation, securities and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Ward was for many years the leader of the firm's tax practice, and is widely regarded as one of Canada's leading experts in Canadian tax law, as well as the interpretation of international tax treaties and cross-border tax issues. He is a prolific writer and sought after speaker at conferences, and lectured for several years at Osgoode Hall Law School. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in the International Fiscal Association and the Canadian Tax Foundation, where he served as president of the Canadian branch and as a member of the executive committee, and the Canadian Tax Foundation, where he was a governor. He has also served as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Minister of National Revenue and has been retained by the Advisory Panel on Canada's System of International Taxation to provide research and analysis relating to treaty shopping. He was actively involved in advising the Law Society in developing its position relating to multi-discipline partnerships and affiliated law firms and rules for "up-the-ladder reporting" when lawyers discover serious illegality in working for clients.

2008 Lincoln Alexander Award winner:

Morley S. Wolfe, Q.C.

Morley S. Wolfe has long been a champion of human rights and equal opportunity for all, and his volunteer community work in Toronto and across Canada reflects this. He served as chair of the Toronto Regional Council of B'nai Brith Canada, as well as National President and the Canadian representative on the councils of B'nai Brith International. He was a founding member of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, where he also served as National Chair for Intercultural Dialogue. A past governor of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, he also chaired the former Ontario Region Joint Community Relations Committee. He served as chair of the former Mayor's Committee on Community, Race and Ethnic Relations, providing leadership in housing, policing and other concerns to the diverse population of Toronto. On the amalgamation of the local municipalities, he founded Toronto Residents In Partnership, a non-profit corporation, to carry out works promoting race relations across the city. Mr. Wolfe was a member of the Toronto Police Service Sub-committee on Race Relations and the Civilian Coalition on Police Hiring. The list of organizations that have benefited from his activism is long and encompasses groups from across the spectrum of ethnic diversity. He consistently works to bridge difference and promote equity. Mr. Wolfe's involvement has not been solely at the managerial and board levels. He has also volunteered on a distinctly personal level, helping to implement the many programs he has launched, providing services to children and the elderly at venues as diverse as the Carmelite Home for Orphans, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Baycrest Centre, Bloorview Children's Hospital, the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation and the Jewish Camp Council of Toronto.

2008 Laura Legge Award winner:

Susan Elliott

The recipient of the first Laura Legge Award, which honours the first woman Treasurer of the Law Society, is Susan Elliott, who served as the second woman Treasurer from 1995-1997. Her leadership of the Law Society during the turbulent time of the insurance deficit and the legal aid crisis has been remarked upon by many. She was instrumental in ensuring that the Bicentennial Report on Equity in the Profession was adopted by Convocation, a report that underscores the Law Society's commitment to equity and diversity in its own operations and within the profession, as well as a wide-ranging review of the governance of Convocation. Ms. Elliott has practised since her call in 1981 with Good Elliott Hawkins LLP in Kingston. She is a past executive member of the Frontenac Law Association and has served as a bencher of the Law Society since 1991. She chaired the Working Group on the Long-Term Delivery of County & District Library Services, which resulted in the creation of LibraryCo, a centralized structure for library management based on the principles of universal access and universal funding. At Teranet Inc. from 1998 to 2007 she introduced the world's first remote electronic submission of land title documents to lawyers in Ontario and, as president of Bar-eX Communications Inc. she developed and launched the first live, online webcasting of CLE for Ontario lawyers. A past recipient of the Law Society Medal, Ms. Elliott has also received the Kavanagh Excellence Award in recognition of distinguished alumni of the University of Ottawa, the President's Award from the Women's Law Association and an honorary LL.D. from the Law Society.

Contact Information

  • For interviews, photographs or additional information, please contact: Jane Withey, Editor, at (416) 947-3300 ext 2239, or