Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Top 25 Lawyers of 2020

Canadian Lawyer has named four University of Toronto Faculty of Law alumni to their list of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers of 2020. The annual list, now in its 11th year, highlights the important and significant work Canadian jurists have done over the last 18 months. 

The Top 25 is split into five areas of influence with five winners in each of the following categories: Young influencers; Business; Changemakers; Human Rights, Advocacy and Criminal; and Government/Non-profits/Associations.

The U of T Law recipients are:

Nader Hasan (JD 2006) – category of Human Rights, Advocacy and Criminal
Partner, Stockwoods LLP, Toronto

His citation reads:

Nader Hasan is a lawyer who has participated in numerous criminal, regulatory and constitutional law cases spanning a range of important issues, such as climate change, national security and the rights of Indigenous and racialized persons. This year, Hasan has appeared before the Court of Appeal in R. v. Sharma, which may potentially be an important case discussing the over-incarceration of Indigenous individuals, and in R. v. Morris, which brings up the timely issue of systemic anti-Black racism in sentencing. He is also acting on behalf of the Faqiri family in the case involving the death of Soleiman Faqiri, a mentally ill prisoner who died while in solitary confinement. Last year, he represented seven youths in a constitutional challenge that questioned the Ontario government’s choice to reduce its climate change targets. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where he has taught classes on evidence, crime and punishment, as well as an advisory board member at the university’s David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights.

Nader is also recipient of this year of the Faculty of Law’s Wilson Prichard Award for Community and Professional Service, recognizing graduates of the Faculty of Law (less than 15 years since graduation), who demonstrate the highest standards of professional integrity, excellence and leadership and who have made a significant contribution to the legal profession and/or community through their public interest work, pro bono activities and/or community service.

Nader joined the Asper Centre this year as the centre's Constitutional Litigator-in-Residence

Atrisha Lewis (JD 2012) – category of Young influencer
Senior Associate, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto

Her citation reads:

Atrisha Lewis is a social justice advocate. In 2019, she became one of the youngest benchers ever elected to the Law Society of Ontario. She is also vice chairperson of the law society’s equity and Indigenous affairs committee. As an LSO Bencher, Lewis was a vocal supporter of the Statement of Principles. She was on the intervention team for CABL's first-ever intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada, in the R. v. Chouhan case on the constitutionality of removing peremptory challenges for defendants. Lexpert distinguished her as one of its Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers Under 40 for 2019. In 2018, CivicAction announced Lewis as one of the year’s 25 new DiverseCity Fellows. She has consistently pushed for racial and gender diversity to be recognized as an asset both within her firm and within the broader legal profession. A member of the litigation group of McCarthy Tétrault, her litigation practice spans commercial disputes, intellectual property disputes and professional liability matters. As a lawyer, she prioritizes excellence, professionalism and integrity.

Atrisha is also recipient of this year of the Faculty of Law’s Wilson Prichard Award for Community and Professional Service, recognizing graduates of the Faculty of Law (less than 15 years since graduation), who demonstrate the highest standards of professional integrity, excellence and leadership and who have made a significant contribution to the legal profession and/or community through their public interest work, pro bono activities and/or community service.

Prof. Peter Sankoff (JD 1996) – category of Government/Non-profits/Associations
Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton

His citation reads:

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Peter Sankoff went out of his way to engage the legal community, which was forced into remote work. Even as he kept up his full-time teaching schedule through delivering online lectures, he devoted his personal time to co-ordinating webinars for lawyers and for law students. He donated the proceeds of these webinars to numerous charities, including initiatives supporting lawyers and artists. If a student could not afford the $10 fee, Sankoff and other donors would cover the amount. He also launched internship opportunities for law students who found themselves unemployed following the public health crisis. He takes his job as an educator beyond the classroom — he has coached his university’s Gale Cup moot team, which won for three straight years under his guidance. He also utilizes social media to make complex legal issues more accessible and comprehensible to the public, such as through posting Twitter threads. He co-hosts an award-winning animal law podcast called Paw and Order.

Dr. Julie A. Soloway (SJD 2000) – category of Business

Partner, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Toronto

Her citation reads: 

Julie Soloway is a competition lawyer who goes out of her way to mentor and support her fellow women in the profession. She feels a sense of fulfillment when seeing her mentees take on responsibilities and advance to leadership roles. Having witnessed systemic biases and discrimination during her formative years, Soloway has since become a prominent figure in today’s gender revolution and a passionate advocate for positive social change. She is the author of Leading the Way: Canadian Women in the Law, published by LexisNexis, which follows the journeys of 50 women lawyers in Canada. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she has offered guidance to businesses struggling to navigate this period of uncertainty and legal complexity. She has advised a broad array of clients, including LVMH (Louis Vuitton), The Washington Group, Intact Financial Corporation, Digital Colony Partners and Kinder Morgan. For more than a decade, she has provided leadership to the American Bar Association’s section of antitrust law.

Congratulations to this year's awardees! 

With files from Canadian Lawyer