2019 Zenith Award Winners


Peter Nguyen, Resolver, Inc.

Peter Nguyen, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary & Privacy Officer is responsible for providing legal advice on a global basis for everything from mergers and acquisitions, litigation and commercial agreements. Since joining Resolver, he has been tasked with a mandate to build out a global legal function, and responsibility for worldwide legal affairs. With a mandate this vast, and a small legal team behind him, Nguyen found staying on top of the workflow coming in from various parts of the business was becoming a challenge. Under his leadership, Resolver adopted a configurable SaaS-based platform that: centrally, transparently and automatically manages the workflow associated with legal requests and provides the foundational data to support a modern, metrics-driven legal department.

Julie Ouellon-Wente, BMO Financial Group

Julie Ouellon-Wente has been a Change Agent with respect to pro bono, diversity and leadership at the Bank. An alumna of McCarthy Tetrault LLP, “she first approached them and suggested that BMO and McCarthy Tétrault lawyers work together to co-staff the Pro Bono Ontario Hotline for one week in December 2017. Based on the success achieved that week, BMO then committed to staffing one week each quarter in 2018 – each time with a new law firm to help introduce and encourage other lawyers in the community to engage in providing pro bono legal services. This approach has been successful and through this initiative, legal advice continues to be provided to approximately 350 callers each week that BMO co-hosts.” She used a similar approach for the Power of Attorney clinic. To expand the program to an additional local hospital, Ouellon-Wente reached out to Blakes. Lawyers from Blakes now team up with experienced non-lawyers at BMO to provide these services.

Devin Persaud, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Devin Persaud is currently the Vice-President of the South Asian Bar Association (SABA), the largest equity-seeking legal association in Canada. He is also a member of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) mentorship committee. This past year, Devin oversaw SABA’s Sponsorship, Mentorship, and CPD Committees and planned and hosted the annual SABA gala. His goal this year was to improve the lives of racialized students entering the profession by establishing events and programs to provide mentorship and support as follows: • Creating and implementing the SABA-Student Liaison Program, which manages the development and performance of law students from schools across Canada and abroad, while solidifying the pipeline for racialized law students to find mentors as they enter the profession. • Sitting on the OBA Council as the South Asian Representative, and as a member of the Roundtable of Diversity Associations (RODA) and advocating for changes to the licensee process.

Matthew Peters, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

As McCarthy Tétrault’s National Innovation Leader for more than seven years, Matthew Peters is a driver of change in the firm and legal sector. He has driven innovation and converted it into action, both inside the firm, with clients, and more broadly in the industry. Peters has taken a unique collaborative approach to driving innovation in the industry under the premise that McCarthy Tétrault LLP and its clients will be better served by a whole industry moving forward. This means being open about internal projects, what has worked and more importantly, what has not. “In order to drive change with clients, Peters and his team have focused on having a clear strategy for innovation that focuses on client benefits, developing the resources and tools to support that strategy, taking risks, and having clear and measurable goals."

Bruce Reynolds, Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP

"Bruce Reynolds acted as Counsel for the Ontario Government in conducting a review of Ontario’s Construction Lien Act, and then worked closely with the Ministry of the Attorney General in drafting Bill 142. Bill 142, “An Act to Amend the Construction Lien Act” was unanimously passed in the Ontario Legislative Assembly in December 2017. Currently, they are acting as co-counsel for the Government of Canada (Public Services and Procurement Canada) to conduct an expert review and prepare a report and recommendations regarding promptness of payment and adjudication in relation to federal construction projects. They delivered their report to PSPC in June 2018, which recommended the adoption of prompt payment and adjudication at the federal level. Now, other jurisdictions in Canada are considering the federal government’s decision to follow these recommendations, and there is potential for legislative alignment across the country."