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.



Litwiniuk & Company

Litwiniuk & Company has operated in Calgary’s vibrant, multiethnic Forest Lawn neighbourhood for 40 years. The firm’s primary focus is helping injured clients, many of whom are new Canadians who speak little English. Some come from countries where corruption is rampant and officials can’t be trusted. Others are simply unfamiliar with our legal system, which is complicated, it’s not always fair and it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed. Litwiniuk & Company works to ensure that doesn’t happen. The firm’s legal team speaks 10 languages. Litwiniuk & Company ensures new Canadians can gain access to important information about their legal rights and deals with paperwork and insurance companies for its clients. The firm works solely on contingency and pays for clients’ disbursements, ensuring that access to justice is available to all.

Lorin MacDonald

For nearly 30 years, Lorin MacDonald has made it her mission to make Canada more accessible to all. Lorin was born with a severe hearing loss but her advocacy work has a crossdisability focus and she believes that an accessible Canada is good for all Canadians. She’s an active volunteer, supporting cross-disability initiatives such as the StopGap Foundation, Music Without Barriers and the Rick Hansen School Program, as an ambassador speaking to elementary and high school students about inclusion. Her human rights law practice focuses primarily on disability discrimination experienced by children, seeking remedies at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She also acts as a mentor to law students and new lawyers with hearing loss. Lorin is a member of the Law Society’s Equity Advisory Group and a member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Equality Committee.

Karen MacMillan, Lawson Lundell LLP

Karen MacMillan is Chair of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee and Chief Inclusiveness Officer at Lawson Lundell. Karen has designed and implemented numerous initiatives to improve the workplace for female lawyers and raise the firm’s overall inclusiveness. She regularly canvasses associates for their views on issues that affect them. Her efforts have led to improvements within the firm, such as tracking gender and minority demographics; introducing industry-leading flexiblework and parental-leave policies; developing programs to foster women’s networking and business development; and annual training of partners and decision makers to recognize unconscious bias and address inequities. She is the firm’s representative for the Justicia Project, addressing evidence that women leave law practice at a higher rate than men. Karen supported best-practice policies of the LSBC, including flexible working arrangements and advancement to partnership.

Loretta Manning, Cox & Palmer

Loretta Manning encouraged Cox & Palmer to become the first firm in Atlantic Canada to join the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN). This led to the creation of a firm-wide diversity committee that formulated a plan for education, external sponsorship, policy review and updates. As Chair of this committee, she led the firm to become the first business in Atlantic Canada to join Pride at Work Canada, supporting the inclusion of LGBT employees. She also spearheaded a firm-wide diversity survey and unconscious bias training and worked with each office throughout the region to coordinate survey delivery and training sessions. Loretta values the perspective and strength that diverse teams bring to an organization and believes that enhancing diversity and inclusion will improve attraction and retention and strengthen client relationships.

Rita Maxwell, Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario

Assistant Crown Attorney Rita Maxwell prosecutes criminal cases, including homicides, child abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. As a mentor for minority law students, Rita has assisted in their pursuit of summer and/or articling positions with Bay Street firms, the government and international opportunities. With the Law Alumni Association, Rita developed and supported financial aid programs, making law school more accessible to historically under-represented groups. She has been a guest lecturer for the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Clinic and advised numerous students from diverse backgrounds on internships and job opportunities with international tribunals, as well as on litigation and/or criminal law practice. Rita has been actively involved in the University of Toronto’s See Yourself Here, an annual student-led initiative, which encourages high school students from under-represented minorities to pursue a legal education.