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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Scott Jolliffe, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP

Scott Jolliffe initiated and led Gowling WLG’s diversity and inclusion initiative, ensuring that it became an essential part of the firm’s culture. As Chair and CEO in 2015, some of Scott’s achievements in advancing diversity and inclusion involved greater diversity in senior management positions: four out of seven Canadian office managing partners are women; the national executive committee includes a female firm managing partner; 27 per cent of partners are women, exceeding the Ontario average; and better representation of gender and race diversity on the firm’s board. Under Scott’s leadership, Gowlings adopted a diversity and inclusion strategy in 2014. As part of the strategy, Gowlings conducted a firm-wide diversity and inclusion self-identification census providing direction for the future. The diversity and inclusion council also sponsored training courses on unconscious bias at all levels of the firm.

Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

As Director of Research and Advocacy for the Canadian HIV/ AIDS Legal Network, Sandra Ka Hon Chu works to advance the rights of sex-trade workers, drug users and prisoners. Sandra’s work includes leading litigation against the Government of Canada for failing to provide needle and syringe programs in prisons. She has written extensively in the area of HIV/AIDS, including a legislative reference work on women’s rights in the context of HIV and briefing papers on the sex trade and HIV law in Canada and internationally. Before joining the Legal Network, she worked in The Hague with the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, advocating for gender-inclusive justice before the International Criminal Court. She has worked for human rights and United Nations agencies in Libya, Timor-Leste, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

Marie Laure Leclercq, De Grandpré Chait LLP

Marie Laure Leclercq was a leading organizer of the first World OutGames, which were held in Montréal in 2006 for LGBT athletes. Marie Laure acted as Director of the Montréal OutGames Corporation and as a member of the International Scientific Committee for the Conference on LGBT Human Rights, held in conjunction with the games. She is also a leader with the Québec Gay Chamber of Commerce (QGCC) and served as President of the Equality Committee of the Canadian Bar Association. In 2007, she led the creation of the Québec Branch of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference, which she co-chaired until 2015. With Québec CBA’s Legislation and Law Reform Committee, she held an advisory role in the adoption of Québec legislation regarding transgender people. She is also a founding member of the Québec Branch Forum des femmes juristes, promoting the rights of women lawyers.

David Lepofsky, Ontario Public Service, University of Toronto

David Lepofsky holds law degrees from the University of Toronto and Harvard Law School. He practises constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal law in the Ontario Public Service and serves as a part-time member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Throughout his career he has advocated for the rights of persons with disabilities and appeared before the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, achieving an amendment to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensuring equality rights for the disabled. He also worked with the disability coalition that secured protection against discrimination in Ontario’s Human Rights Code and led the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee from 1994 to 2005. He has been inducted into the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario and Terry Fox Hall of Fame.

Christien Levien, Legalswipe

Christien Levien created the Legalswipe smartphone application that advises the public on their legal rights when questioned or detained by police, an offering that proved so popular it crashed the Apple App Store server. A Canadian of Caribbean descent, Christien recounts being subjected to unprovoked assault by police as an undergraduate and was inspired by that experience to become a lawyer. As a law student doing legal rights workshops in communities affected by the issue of police violence, he gained an understanding of the needs of those communities and designed his app around those needs. Legalswipe draws from the Know Your Rights booklet of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to advise detainees on specific wording of responses to police questions, as well as providing video recording of incidents and an emergency-message function.