28-canadian_lawyer_logoCanadian Lawyer  has named the Top 25 Most Influential figures in the Canadian justice system and legal profession. The list, which is in its seventh year and is among the publications’ most-read features, honors select Canadians in one of five categories: Government/Associations/Non-Profit, Changemakers, Criminal and Human Rights Law, The World Stage and Corporate/Commercial Law.

Honorees were peer-nominated and voted-upon by members of the Canadian legal profession. With more than 135 nominations and more than 9,000 votes cast this year, Canadian Lawyer gathered the data and voter feedback to decide the Top 25. Top vote recipients were recognized in the five categories with four additional, unranked honorees named to each category.

This year’s honorees are:


Top Vote Recipient – Justice Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa

As last year’s top vote-getter in the Changemaker category, McLachlin continues to make her mark as a staunch advocate for greater justice for all Canadians. Last year, she handed down two significant decisions – Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia and Keewatin v. Ontario (Natural Resources) – that clarified treaty rights of and the duty to consult with First Nations in both key cases. McLachlin’s leadership from the bench and vocal support for free speech, diversity and inclusive leadership should ensure her popularity among readers for some time to come.

Additional honorees – Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Ottawa

Orlando Da Silva, president, Ontario Bar Association, Toronto

Katrina Pacey, executive director, Pivot Legal Society, Vancouver

Justice Murray Sinclair, chairman, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Winnipeg


Top Vote Recipient – Sara Cohen, founder, Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP, Toronto

Cohen is recognized this year for her dedication as both an educator and an advocate for fertility law in Canada and beyond. As the first adjunct professor in Canada to offer a course devoted to reproductive law, Cohen is not only paving the way for future fertility law practitioners, but her lobbying efforts to secure in vitro fertilization services through Ontario’s health plan further demonstrates her passion for this challenging area of law.

Additional honorees – Allison Dellandrea, Crown counsel, Ministry of the Attorney General, Toronto

Fred Headon, assistant general counsel, labor and employment law, Air Canada, Montreal

Mark Tamminga, partner, Gowling Lafluer Henderson LLP, Hamilton

Alice Woolley, professor and associate dean-academic, University of Calgary Faculty of Law, Calgary

Criminal Law/Human Rights

Top Vote Recipient – Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling, defence counsel, Edmonton

Honored as a team, Edney and Whitling are recognized for spending more than a decade acting in defence of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr. From their continued fight to defend Khadr during three Supreme Court of Canada cases, to his eventual release from prison in May, both men continue to fight for the young man’s legal rights in Canada and abroad.

Additional honorees – Rocco Galati, Rocco Galati Law Firm PC, Toronto

Marie Henein, senior partner, Henein Hutchison LLP, Toronto

Frank Iacobucci, senior counsel, Torys LLP, Toronto

Lorne Waldman, Waldman & Associates, Toronto

The World Stage

Top Vote Recipient – Louise Arbour, counsel, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Montreal

For her human rights efforts, Arbour – a former judge, international war crimes prosecutor and law school professor – has certainly earned her place on this list again. An inductee on Canada’s Walk of Fame, her latest cause, now that she is back in her native land, is confronting economic disparities between and within countries.

Additional honorees – Dawn Devoe, general counsel, World Vision Canada, Toronto

Pascale Fournier, professor and research chair, legal pluralism and comparative law, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ontario

Murray Klippenstein, founder, Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, Toronto

Pascal Paradis, executive director, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, Quebec City


Top Vote Recipient – Justice David Stratas, judge, Federal Court of Appeal, Ottawa

Stratas’s decision in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada, which allowed federally regulated employers to dismiss employees without cause, made waves and signaled a significant change in Canada Labour Code. With the case now headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, this case, and the broader employment law issue, will be featured in conversations for some time.

Additional honorees – Sheila Block, partner, Torys LLP, Toronto

Wayne Myles, counsel, Cox & Palmer, St. John’s

Justice Ian Nordheimer, judge, Ontario Superior Court, Toronto

Poonam Puri, professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto

“From the returning candidates on this year’s list, to the inspiring newcomers, we are continually amazed by the commitment of these individuals to advance justice and influence the rule of law both in Canada and abroad,” said Gail J. Cohen, editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer. “Again, we are pleased to salute this year’s honorees, and we thank the voters for a record turnout this year to support these 25 amazing individuals and their stories.”

For more on the 2015 Top 25 Most Influential, including profiles of all honorees, visit Canadian Lawyer

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