Skip to content

Monday, October 1, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018
Mary Birdsell has won the 2018 Guthrie Award.


Mary Birdsell, executive director of the non-profit legal clinic and children’s rights organization Justice for Children and Youth, has won the 2018 Guthrie Award.

The award is to recognize “exceptional access to justice champions,” according to the Law Foundation of Ontario.

Birdsell says that clinics and the lawyers who work there are often seen as “outside the halls of power,” but they in fact do “incredible” work and bring the issues of access to justice from the courts to the public realm.

“None of the work that I have done is work that I do by myself — it’s hugely attributable to the colleagues I have,” says Birdsell, who also credited organizations such as Legal Aid Ontario and the government for supporting clinics.

Birdsell says some of the highlights of experiences include working with students who are having trouble accessing school and have disabilities, among other issues.

She also highlighted Justice for Children and Youth’s work with homeless youth and the Charter litigation she gets to take on.

“We are often on the front lines with these young people. We have really been able to take our lead from them and we are in a position where we can listen to individuals. They are not legally sophisticated, but they are the experts in their own lives and experiences,” Birdsell says.

She says there is more work to be done.

“All lawyers are bound to run into children’s rights issues from time to time. Their ability to recognize the issue and appreciate the nuances and significance of those issues is a really important part of the work that we do,” says Birdsell.


Murray Sinclair, who represents Manitoba and the Independent Senators Group in the Senate of Canada, received an LLD at the Call to the Bar ceremony in Toronto on Friday, an honour bestowed by the Law Society of Ontario on those with “outstanding achievements in the legal profession, the rule of law, or the cause of justice.” Sinclair became the first Indigenous judge in Manitoba in 1988 and chaired Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


The 5th Annual Billiards with the Bar: Chalk One Up Against Hunger will be held Oct. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Rivoli at 334 Queen St. West in Toronto. The event will support the Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program and is being hosted by Neuberger & Partners LLP, Hull & Hull LLP, Toronto Lawyers Association and The Law Society Foundation. More information is available at 


Lawyers say the legal system is grappling with valuing crypto-currency, as evidenced by a recent Ontario court decision. Law Times asked readers if they anticipate encountering any cases or clients where crypto-currency is involved in the next year.

Eighty per cent said they do not anticipate encountering it, as crypto-currency has yet to hit the mainstream. About 20 per cent said they do expect the technology to become increasingly common, including in their practices.

Law Times Poll

Are you surprised by the results of the bencher election?