Greenspan and Hnatiw named as awardees at the TLA 2020 awards

Brian Greenspan recognized for criminal law and Gillian Hnatiw wins award for women’s rights

Greenspan and Hnatiw named as awardees at the TLA 2020 awards
Gillian Hnatiw

The Toronto Lawyers Association has announced that lawyers Brian Greenspan and Gillian Hnatiw are its two major awardees for 2020.

The TLA named Greenspan as the recipient of the 2020 TLA Award of Distinction. The award honours a Toronto lawyer “who has a demonstrated record of excellence, and who has made an extraordinary contribution to the integrity and worth of the law and to the legal profession.”

The second major accolade is the Honsberger Award, which recognizes lawyers who personify TLA’s three pillars of knowledge, community, and advocacy. Gillian Hnatiw, who is currently the Principal of Gillian Hnatiw & Co, will be honoured with this award for the year of 2020.

Greenspan and Hnatiw will be honoured during its 20th TLA Annual Awards Gala, which will be held on Mar. 5, 2020.


Greenspan’s career as a criminal defence lawyer spans four decades, during which he has served as counsel for many prominent cases. He is currently a senior partner at Greenspan Humphrey Weinstein LLP.

“His passion and knowledge of the criminal justice system inspires students, recently called, and established lawyers alike,” said TLA Board President Margaret Waddell in a written statement. “Mr. Greenspan demonstrates the high professional standards to which we commit in our profession.”

He has held leadership roles in criminal law organizations. He served as the President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario) and was the founding Chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers. 

He also has experience in teaching criminal law. He taught at the Osgoode Hall Law School and lectured at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto Law School. For his contributions to criminal justice in Canada, he has previously been awarded the G. Arthur Martin Medal.


Hnatiw is serves as the current Chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, and she has also represented LEAF before the Supreme Court of Canada. She has volunteered for organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Downtown Legal Services, Women and the Law, Pro Bono Students Canada, MealTrans, Council Fire, and the 519 Centre.

The TLA highlighted Hnatiw’s role as counsel at the coroner’s inquests into the deaths of Ashley Smith and Katelynn Sampson, “both of which examined systemic institutional failings that resulted in the deaths of vulnerable girls.”


In celebration of its 135th anniversary, as well as the 20th year of its annual awards, this is the first time TLA will be presenting the Emerging Excellence Award, which is still open for nominations.

The award will honour young lawyers who have been in practice for a decade or less and who exhibit leadership or innovation in advancing TLA’s three pillars.  Self-nominations or third-party nominations for the TLA Emerging Excellence Award can be sent through an online nomination form

The event will be held at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto.

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