Osgoode Hall Law School honoured eight distinguished lawyers with awards for their exceptional contributions to the legal profession and service to the community at the Dean’s Annual Alumni Reception on Wednesday, May 15, at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto.
Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice through Law
R. Douglas Elliott, an Osgoode LLM candidate in constitution law, is a founding partner in Roy Elliott O’Connor LLP. He has played a leadership role in some of Canada’s most significant class actions as well as landmark constitutional, government liability and health law cases. He was lead counsel in Hislop v. Canada, which was the first successful constitutional class action suit and the largest financial recovery for discriminated gays and lesbians anywhere in the world. He is also well known for the same sex marriage case, where he successfully represented the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in the Ontario Court of Appeal in Halpern v. Canada and in the Supreme Court of Canada on the Marriage Reference. An AIDS activist for many years, he was on the first elected Board of the AIDS Committee of Toronto and was the first person to receive the leadership award from the Canadian AIDS Society. As well, he has received numerous other awards for his legal work and community service.
Alumni Gold Key Awards
Gold Key Award for Achievement: Brian Greenspan (LLB ’71) is considered one of Canada’s leading criminal litigators. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers and the recipient of several important awards including the Douglas K. Laidlaw Medal for excellence in oral advocacy and the G. Arthur Martin Medal for his contributions to criminal justice in Canada. In 2012, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Gold Key Award for Achievement: Dianne Saxe (LLB ’74, PhD ’91) of Saxe Law Office Environmental Law is one of the world’s top 25 environmental lawyers, according to Euromoney’s Best of the Best, 2008. She was also named by Best Lawyers as Toronto’s Environmental Lawyer of the Year for 2011. Saxe Law is a small boutique firm, but it is tremendously successful and effective. It is the only Canadian environmental firm to be honoured with membership in the prestigious International Network of Boutique Law Firms. A certified specialist in environmental law and a founding member of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Environmental Specialist Certification Committee, Saxe is also a well-respected and widely published author. In addition, she gives her time, pro bono, to a number of initiatives including Evergreen, Windshare and the Ontario Bar Association, to name a few.
Gold Key Award for the Public Sector: Coulter A. Osborne (LLB ‘59) practised law in Kitchener until his appointment to the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1978. He subsequently served on the Court of Appeal from 1990 and, in June 1999, he was appointed Associate Chief Justice of Ontario. He retired from the bench in 2001, but continued to serve the province. In 2001, he was appointed as Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner and, in 2006, he was asked by Ontario’s Attorney General to conduct an inquiry into the province’s civil justice system. He has also built a second career in alternative dispute resolution. He has an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law Society of Ontario, and was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2011.
Gold Key Award for One-to-Watch: Ryan Dzierniejko (LLB ’05) graduated from Osgoode with the Gold Medal for highest academic standing. He is an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York where his work has been described as “nothing less than spectacular.” Dzierniejko counsels issuers and investment banks in public and private equity and debt offerings, and acts as US acquisition counsel to companies on both hostile and friendly cross-border transactions. Dzierniejko also gives much of his time as a volunteer to underprivileged youth through Youth Without Shelter. He is a member of their Board and coach of their basketball team.
Gold Key Award for One-to-Watch: Paul Jonathan Saguil (LLB ’07) graduated from Osgoode with a Dean’s Gold Key Award. He is counsel in the legal department of TD Bank Group. He manages litigation on behalf of TD Bank Group, primarily involving its retail, wealth and securities businesses, and provides general legal advice to other TD corporate office groups and support units. He has appeared as counsel in all levels of courts in Ontario, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Federal Court. Passionate about helping to promote access to justice and equity in the legal profession and the judiciary, he is an active member of the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations and the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers. He is also the co-chair of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Equity Advisory Group and a director on the Board of Pride Toronto.
Gold Key Award for Service: John Tobin (LLB ‘87), a senior partner in the tax department of Torys LLP, first started giving back to Osgoode as a mentor in the Alumni Mentor Program. He was very good at it too, with students lining up every year to request his mentoring assistance. Because of his hard work, dedication and collegial nature, he went on to become chair of the Mentor Program, then vice-president of the Alumni Association Board and later president. His engaging personality with his humour, intelligence and unwavering belief in Osgoode made him an outstanding president. He supported Osgoode through many important initiatives, most notably the Building Osgoode Campaign, where he was a key member of the campaign cabinet. Tobin also taught international tax at Osgoode in the fall of 2012.
Mentor of the Year: Moiz Rahman (LLB ‘96) has been involved with Osgoode’s Mentor Program since 2002 and has offered guidance to a large number of students regarding law school, applying for jobs and their future careers. Rahman joined the Federal Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice (now the Public Prosecution Service of Canada) in 1998 and has spent most of his time working in the Anti-Organized Crime Unit, prosecuting major drug cases and conducting both trials and appeals. He is an Adjunct Professor with Osgoode’s Trial Advocacy course and is also a team leader in Osgoode Professional Development’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop.