Osgoode dominates Canadian Lawyer’s top 25 ranking

Twelve lawyers with connections to York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School are on Canadian Lawyer magazine’s list of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada. 

News of the stellar showing by graduates and those affiliated with the law school was circulated to the York community by Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin (LLB ’92).

“It is with pride that I share with you that of those listed on the just-released ‘Canadian Lawyer Top 25 Most Influential’, 12 are members of the Osgoode community. Additionally, the only academics included among the top 25 are both Osgoode faculty – Peter Hogg and Alan Young," said Sossin, who congratulated recipients for "this well-deserved recognition" .

"I was thrilled to learn that 12 members of the York University community were named among the most influential lawyers in Canada," said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. "This is truly a testament to the quality of education that our University has to offer."

York honorary degree recipient and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin (Hon. LLD ’99), appears first on the list as the most influential person in Canadian law. Holding the judiciary’s most powerful position, she is "capable of raising debate and handing down decisions that will set precedents and, in some cases, change the face of law itself," said Canadian Lawyer.

Appearing in the third spot in the ranking, which is published in the magazine’s August issue, is alumnus Brian Greenspan (LLB ’71), a leading criminal lawyer. "Greenspan has based his career on taking high-profile cases that would make a lesser lawyer balk," said Canadian Lawyer. He and McLachlin were included on the magazine’s cover with No. 2, James Lockyer of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.

The magazine cited former Osgoode dean and Professor Emeritus Peter Hogg, now scholar in residence at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, as "the leading authority on constitutional law in Canada." Osgoode Professor and civil libertarian Alan Young (LLB ’81, BA ’84) "has tackled many hard-hitting issues such as the legalization of marijuana," said Canadian Lawyer, noting his role in the Innocence Project, which investigates suspected cases of wrongful conviction.

In her editorial about the ranking, Gail Cohen, editorial director of Canadian Lawyer, writes: "The Top 25 Most Influential is not just about bright stars, big deals or number of media mentions – although those may play a part. What sets our list apart is that we have endeavoured to select the most influential within the law over the last 18 months, looking at every area of practice, government and the judiciary."

A panel comprised of experts from Canadian Lawyer and its sister publications along with external panellists drawn from a wide swath of Canadian law, including corporate counsel, the academic community and practitioners from criminal and civil law, evaluated each of the candidates for the list. 

Here are the other Osgoode notables on Canadian Lawyer ‘s list, accompanied by selected comments from the magazine:

  • Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella (Hon. LLD ’91) of the Supreme Court of Canada: "Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for the role of children after the breakup of families." said Canadian Lawyer, which noted her "extraordinary achievements and outspoken demeanor."
  • Frank Addario (LLB ’82), a lawyer at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP in Toronto: "An expert of criminal and constitutional litigation, Frank Addario was the face of and one of the driving forces behind the Ontario criminal lawyers’ boycott of legal aid cases in 2009 [which] resulted in the government of Ontario increasing legal aid fees." 
  • Earl Cherniak (LLB ’60), a partner at Lerners LLP in Toronto: "Arguably one of the most respected and decorated litigators in Canada, Earl Cherniak has been recognized with some of the highest honours in the country’s legal field." 
  • Irwin Cotler (Hon. LLD ’87), a  human rights lawyer, Montreal MP and former justice minister: "[Irwin Cotler] played a key role in making the Supreme Court of Canada the most gender-representative Supreme Court in the world when he appointed justices Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron."  
  • Marlys Edwardh (LLB ’74, Hon. LLD ’10), a criminal lawyer in Toronto who recently served as co-counsel in the case of Maher Arar: "One of Canada’s most prominent civil rights lawyers and an internationally known figure, Marlys Edwardh consistently and unfailingly defends those whose rights have been denied or withheld." 
  • David Lepofsky (LLB ’79) of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General Crown Law Office in Toronto: "Blind for much of his life, David Lepofsky has gained a reputation for being an advocate for the blind and disabled," said Canadian Lawyer, noting his role with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act committee.
  • Harvey Strosberg (LLB ’69), senior partner at Sutts Strosberg LLP in Windsor: "With the rise of the class action bar in the Canadian legal field in the last 25 years, Harvey Strosberg has emerged as one of the country’s top class action lawyers and commercial litigators [who] has recovered over $1 billion for his clients." 
  • Lorne Waldman (LLB ’77) of Lorne Waldman & Associates in Toronto: "Lorne Waldman is one of the top immigration and refugee lawyers in the country. He served as co-counsel for Maher Arar during the public inquiry into Arar’s deportation from the United States to Syria." 

Full details are available online in the August issue of Canadian Lawyer magazine.