2016 Zenith Award Winners




Marc-André Blanchard is an esteemed lawyer from Québec who in April became Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this role, Ambassador Blanchard works to advance Canada’s interests, promote international development, security and human rights, and to keep our government informed on multilateral issues. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Blanchard had been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, one of the country’s most prominent law firms. He also has a long history of political involvement, as the former president of the Québec Liberal Party and, more recently, as a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s transition team. Ambassador Blanchard holds several degrees including a Master's in Public Administration and a Master’s in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He is a Lexpert Rising Stars alumnus, and in 2013 was named one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer.

 

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Linc Rogers, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Since 2007, Linc Rogers has been active in diversity and inclusion initiatives at Blakes. Linc is a former President of the Ottawa Black Law Students’ Association of Canada and serves on Blakes’ diversity and inclusion committee, taking a leadership role in several diversity-and-inclusion initiatives. He is the principal author of the firm’s diversity-and-inclusion webpage and founder of the Blakes diversity network, promoting diversity within Blakes and the broader legal profession. He has led several diversity-network initiatives, including a presentation by Justice Russell Juriansz of the Court of Appeal for Ontario on best practices before the court and diversity in the legal profession; a roundtable on business development through a diversity lens; and a Blakes client seminar on diverse religious holidays. Linc has organized presentations on the US Supreme Court case on marriage equality and inclusive leadership.

Diversity and Law Society, University of Calgary Faculty of Law

To improve diversity in the legal profession, students at the Faculty of Law created the Diversity and Law Society (DLS), aimed to promote diversity and multiculturalism in the study and practice of law. DLS aims to promote awareness of equality issues in the legal profession; provide the means to eliminate discrimination; develop resources to assist the legal profession in achieving equality and monitor, on a national basis, the status of equality issues in the legal profession. DLS is affiliated with the national Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers and is associated with the Canadian Bar Association’s Equality and Diversity Section, formed out of the association’s 1993 task force report on gender equity. “The composition of Canadian society is changing [and] it’s important to foster … tolerance and acceptance of diversity in law school,” a DLS vice president said.

Christine Thomlinson, Rubin Thomlinson LLP and RT Workplace Training

Chris Thomlinson has led development of training for employers across the country that supports diverse, respectful and inclusive workplaces. Sessions covering respect at work, accommodation at work, investigating human rights breaches, advanced workplace investigation techniques, sexual harassment and mental health issues in the workplace aim to enhance employees’ respect for each other. Her clients have included police forces, universities, municipalities and professional services firms. Chris developed a program for the Ontario Hospital Association, which is being delivered province-wide through 10 webcasts. Topics include identifying and dealing with harassment and discrimination, as well as best practices to promote harassment- and discrimination-free workplaces. As Co-managing Partner and Co-founder of the firm and a training company, Chris has built two businesses, which are highly diverse, including members from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, place of origin, sexual orientation and age.

Donna Walwyn, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers

Donna Walwyn is President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and a practitioner of employment law. Donna became a partner at Baker & McKenzie in 2008 and, as President of CABL, has called for greater inclusivity among Bay Street law firms. In 2012, she was selected as the first Canadian participant in the Fellows Program of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. In 2016, she was appointed to the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, which was convened by the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, and is focused on improving access to the civil and family justice system. She has also served as a member of the board of trustees for the national scholarship fund of the Black Business and Professional Association.

Frank Walwyn, WeirFoulds LLP

One of the few black law partners on Bay Street, Frank Walwyn embraces opportunities to mentor, inspire and educate. He is one of Canada’s top commercial litigators, devoting many hours to increasing the number of minority practitioners in law. He regularly counsels high school, university and law school students on their career paths and works through his membership on various judicial appointments committees to open doors for minority lawyers. His community service includes: past president, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers; board member, Community Legal Education Ontario, delivering legal education to low-income communities; steering committee, DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project, aiming to diversify Toronto’s leadership landscape; national advisory committee, James R. Johnston Chair, honouring the distinctive historical presence of African Nova Scotians; and past board member, The Advocates’ Society, and a member of its International Training Committee.