Honourary LLDs awarded to legal leaders

The Law Society of Ontario awarded honorary doctorates to four distinguished legal leaders at its June 25 and 26 Call to the Bar ceremonies.

Honourary LLDs awarded to legal leaders
Former justice Gloria Epstein.

The Law Society of Ontario awarded honorary doctorates to four distinguished legal leaders at its June 25 and 26 Call to the Bar ceremonies.

Law Society Treasurer Malcolm Mercer presented Gloria Epstein, Thulisile Madonsela, Earl A. Cherniak and Stephen Toope with honourary LLD degrees during ceremonies held in Toronto.

Former justice Gloria Epstein received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her contributions to the legal profession and community at large. Called to the Bar of Ontario in 1979, she practised in two large Toronto law firms before starting her own firm in 1985, at a time when very few law firms were led by women, according to a Law Society of Ontario news release. She was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in 1993 and then to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 2007. She retired from the bench in 2018 to accept an appointment from the Toronto Police Services Board to lead the Independent Civilian Review into the Missing Person Investigations.

Thulisile Madonsela was presented an honorary LLD in recognition of her work in her role as Public Protector for South Africa. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has worked in several government departments, civil society organizations and academia throughout her career. Madonsela is currently the Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, and she is also the founder of the Thuma Foundation for Democracy, Leadership and Literacy. In 2014, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

Earl Cherniak received an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the legal profession and the administration of justice as one of Canada’s leading counsels. A partner at Lerners LLP, Cherniak has acted on some of Canada’s most important cases, both at trial and at the appellate level, including representing the Canadian Red Cross in the Inquiry into the Canadian blood system, and serving as counsel for the Medical Officer of Health in the inquiry into the Walkerton water safety crisis. Cherniak also served as a commissioner of the Ontario Law Reform Commission and was counsel to the Royal Commission into Metropolitan Toronto Police Practices.

Lastly, Stephen Toope was presented an honorary LLD in recognition of his accomplishments as a pre-eminent legal scholar. Toope has degrees in common and civil law from McGill University (1983) as well as a PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he is currently serving as the university’s 346th vice chancellor. Prior to joining Cambridge, Toope was director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and before that, he was president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia. He served as president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and as dean of law at McGill University

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