Thora Espinet was the only black woman in her class at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and one of the first black women lawyers in Ontario after being called to the bar in 1984.
But that didn’t stop her from pursuing a career, first in criminal law and then family law.
“Sometimes, what holds people back is self-doubt,” Espinet told Law Times in an interview. “But I’m very confident. I don’t let other people define me.”
That confidence has led Jamaican-born Espinet to become a leader in “promoting social change as well as addressing issues of discrimination and equality,” according to the Law Society of Upper Canada. Espinet is the recipient of the Lincoln Alexander Award.
The award is one of several Law Society Awards that will be handed out May 24 at Osgoode Hall.
Law Society Medal winners include Patrick Case, a leader in establishing policies on addressing racism; Larry Chartrand, who works to advance aboriginal and Métis rights; Sally Colquhoun, who has helped increase social justice for low-income people and First Nation communities in Ontario’s Northwest; Michael Eizenga, a leader in the class action bar; Marie Henein, for her achievements as a criminal defence lawyer; Joanna Radbord, for her contributions to LGBTQ rights, family law, constitutional and human rights; and Gary Yee, for his activism and advocacy for racialized communities.
The Laura Legge Award goes to Breese Davies. Edwarda De Oliveira Castro will receive the William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award, and the J. Shirley Denison Award recipient is Grace Alcaide Janicas.
LAW PROFS CALL FOR MINING OMBUDSPERSON
Law professors from universities across Canada have sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for an independent ombudsperson to investigate complaints about Canadian mining companies operating abroad.
“It is time for Canada to step up to the plate and take legislative action to prevent Canadian extractive companies from profiting from human rights abuses and other harm,” said Penelope Simons, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa.
LOGAN JOINS BAKER MCKENZIE
Daniel Logan has joined Baker McKenzie as a partner in Toronto. With more than 20 years experience in complex commercial technology and outsourcing transactions, Logan brings a particular expertise working with clients in the financial services sector, said the firm.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported that a judge had issued a strong rebuke of the processes lawyers have to follow to retrieve unpaid fees from clients and backlogs at the provincial assessment office.
Readers were asked if they felt an overhaul of the process was long overdue.
About 83 per cent said yes, the time has come for much-needed amendments to the Solicitors Act.
Another 17 per cent said no, while the process was not perfect, it is a good development that lawyers will now be able to sue clients for unpaid accounts in some situations.