2019 Zenith Award Winners


Ana Badour, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

In the rapidly evolving global financial services industry, Ana Badour is the co-leader of the firm’s Fintech practice, actively seeking out and assessing innovative technology to provide optimal service to clients. In 2018, one such problem recognized by Badour revealed the need for advancement of an antiquated process: legal agreements. Lawyers create and share legal agreements between parties (often via email), which traditionally requires multiple versions of a document to exist until all revisions are captured in a final document. This process is time-consuming, includes a potential security issue and elevates the risk for errors. Badour “saw the benefit of combining Open Law’s markup language (computer coding that creates and stores legal agreements) with Ethereum’s blockchain technology, to inexpensively and expediently create a secure, shareable document that keeps record of all changes.

Anita Banicevic, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Anita Banicevic is a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP specializing in Competition, Antitrust & Foreign Investment; Advertising, Marketing & Distribution; and Investigations & white collar Defence. She is considered a global leader in the field of Competition Law. At a time when regulators in a variety of areas are grappling with the legal implications of artificial intelligence, algorithms and big data, Banicevic’s specialized expertise and thought leadership are in high demand. “Recognizing the complexities of Antitrust issues in this space and the need for regulators to take such complexities into account without stifling innovation, Banicevic has quickly become an authority on these issues, and through her valuable contribution to discussions on these topics, she has been able to contextualize them for policy-makers seeking to update their regulatory structures.

Drs. John Borrows, University of Victoria - Faculty of Law

Drs. John Borrows and Val Napoleon were instrumental in the launch of the world’s first law degree to combine the study of Indigenous and non-Indigenous law. Following years of planning and fundraising by Borrows and Napoleon, in September 2018, the University of Victoria (UVic) welcomed the first cohort of students to the joint degree in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders (JID/JD program).“The nominees, Val Napoleon and John Borrows, are the preeminent Indigenous legal scholars that have co-founded the first joint degree program in Canadian Common Law (JD) and Indigenous Legal Orders (JID). It is the first program of its kind in the world. Combining intensive study of Canadian Common Law with intensive engagement with Indigenous laws, the JD/JID will develop the skills needed to practice within Canadian Common Law, with Indigenous legal orders, and at the interface between them.

David Budd, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

Published statistics on mental health indicate that one in five Canadians will experience some problem with their mental health over the course of a year (Source: Government of Canada, 2006) - and while awareness surrounding mental health has increased dramatically in recent years, the stigma surrounding it still remains – particularly in the legal industry. “A 2017 study out of the UK on ‘work-related stress, depression and anxiety’ ranked the legal profession fourth on the list of the most stressful jobs. That is likely not surprising to anyone who works in – or near – the industry. The profession is demanding - with clients expecting a trusted advisor who is impervious to personal issues and able to exceed expectations in terms of work product, strategic analysis and responsiveness. In addition, competition for work at both a personal and firm level can be incredibly intense. “Beyond wellness, there is a business case to be made for prioritizing a healthy firm. According to the World Health Organization, every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 or better in health and ability to work - and the University of Warwick found that happiness makes people about 12% more productive. The corporate world seems to have taken notice, understanding that combating stress can only serve to enhance performance.” “The leadership roles assumed by Cohen and Budd are essential to the success of this initiative - one where a message that your well-being is important flows through the entire firm and chips away at the stigma that still surrounds mental health.