2016 Zenith Award Winners


Simon Fish, BMO Financial Group

BMO General Counsel Simon Fish serves as BMO’s executive diversity champion; co-chairs the Leadership Committee for Inclusion and Diversity (LCID); and chairs the legal group’s employee-led Diversity Council. As a founding member of Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD), he recently brought together more than 100 law firms to share best practices on driving change in diversity. With his leadership, BMO’s Legal Group is a banking-industry leader in the representation of women at senior levels and has set measurable goals for the hiring and retention of minorities in senior roles globally. As of December 2015, 57.6 per cent of women in the Legal Group hold senior roles; 48.3 per cent of Legal Group senior leaders are women; and 23.7 per cent of visible minorities at Legal Group hold senior roles.

Fernando Garcia, Nissan Canada, Inc.

Fernando Garcia, Nissan Canada General Counsel, Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary, is recognized company-wide as a champion of diversity and inclusion. Fernando and the North American Executive Diversity Council work to formulate diversity action plans implemented throughout the company. He transformed the legal department’s culture into one in which diversity and inclusion impact how team members engage with one another and the public. A naturalized Canadian born in Argentina, Fernando is a passionate advocate of diversity in law and an executive of Legal Leaders for Diversity. He regularly speaks on the value of diversity and serves on the advisory board of LSUC’s Law Practice Program, established to ensure all students have an opportunity to article. He was an executive member of the CCCA and a member of its Mentorship and Diversity Committees.

Albert Hudec, Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP

After a lengthy career in M&A and securities law, Al Hudec began working with First Nations, negotiating precedentsetting commercial benefits agreements for Aboriginal communities across northern BC. Al now represents more than 20 First Nations in dealings with resource companies, contractors and governments, including LNG projects and pipelines. He works to ensure First Nations share fairly in the benefits of major infrastructure and energy projects on traditional lands. He helps Aboriginal leaders assess resource development proposals and weigh project benefits and impacts. Where development is appropriate, he helps First Nations negotiate up-front financial agreements and long-term benefits, including joint-venture contracting, employment and educational opportunities. Throughout his career, Al has been a mentor and advocate for women in the law. He is a former director of Big Sisters and helped found the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.

Arleen Huggins, Koskie Minsky LLP

Arleen Huggins is immediate past president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL). Elected to CABL’s first board in 1997, Arleen has been instrumental in defining and building CABL. Since 2008, she has served as director of membership, vice-president and president from 2013 to 2015. She has worked for equity and diversity in the legal profession and introduced strategies to overcome the barriers experienced by racialized lawyers. As Chair of CABL’s Advocacy Committee since 2008, she has drafted numerous submissions to LSUC: advocating voluntary self-identification in gathering statistics to better understand demographic trends in the profession; responding to LSUC’s Articling Task Force Consultation Report; and urging investigation of access and advancement within legal organizations and supporting strategies for change. Arleen has also been a leader in the very public lobby for a transparent, accountable and representative federal judicial appointments process and the appointment of qualified, racialized candidates.

Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN)

The LFDIN is a group of Canadian law firms supporting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Sixteen founding firms signed a statement of principles in May 2013. To promote diversity and inclusion, members agreed to share ideas, work with other groups in the legal profession, support outreach to law schools and communities and promote thought leadership on diversity. There are now 33 member firms across Canada, including Canada’s 20 largest national law firms. Members share best practices, education and awareness efforts, working with Legal Leaders for Diversity, the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and others. LFDIN meetings consider such issues as diversity surveys, LSUC’s report on racialized licensees, unconscious bias in recruiting and retention, and accreditation of Trinity Western University Law School.