2019 Zenith Award Winners

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Shara Roy, Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP

Shara Roy is very engaged in activities to redress the barriers faced in firms by racialized lawyers, women and all who seek equity. She “helped establish the firm’s D&I Committee in 2017, with a mandate to ensure that members of the firm have an equal opportunity to develop and advance. As the partner responsible for Facilities, Roy uses our physical space to make a more inclusive work environment, including providing a gender inclusive washroom and a private space for nursing mothers.” “Roy spear-headed the firm’s commitment to reducing barriers to entry in the legal profession, including by: pioneering the anonymization of student applications in the OCI hiring process to tackle unconscious bias (Lenczner Slaght is the first firm in Canada to do so); and replacing the firm’s cocktail party with a lounge available to all students during the stressful interviewing process."

Ray Rubin, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

Ray Rubin, counsel in the Private Client practice at Davies, understands transformative change. After stepping away from her career for 15 years to raise her four sons and volunteer in her community, Ray returned to private practice in 2012 to serve her clients, including families, businesses, trust companies and charitable entities. Her passion for volunteerism didn’t waver once she returned to private practice. “Over the past four years, Rubin has embraced the opportunity to transfer her skills as a lawyer into her volunteer work, most specifically as vice president and then president of the board of Toronto’s community Jewish high school, TanenbaumCHAT (TCHAT). During her tenure, the board of TCHAT, in conjunction with other community leaders, undertook transformative change, to tackle the issue of cutting tuition without sacrificing the vibrant, premier experience offered by the school."

Charles Whitburn, Points International Ltd.

Charles Whitburn, recognized not only the need for additional support – both from internal resources and external counsel – but the importance of changing the paradigm. “Whitburn required knowledgeable counsel with experience in multiple practice areas -- not just general commercial and technology law experience -- but substantive experience with complex cross jurisdictional issues, in light of the firm’s international corporate partners, suppliers and customers. In short, Whitburn set out to re-imagine the legal department of a mid-market firm by implementing a ‘distributed’ approach, relying on in-house resources for core operational matters, using traditional law firms for subject-matter expertise on discrete projects and using innovative alternative law firms, such as Conduit Law and Inter Alia Law, for the firm’s high value, and large volume, commercial legal work that requires the benefit of experienced senior counsel able to work at a high tempo on an on-demand basis."

David Wotherspoon, Dentons

David Wotherspoon, head of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution group in Dentons’ Vancouver office, has moved the dial significantly with respect to not only pro bono work in the legal profession, but to redefining the role of lawyers to advance access to justice. He realized that to improve access to legal representation, law firms needed to change the way they do business and redefine how law firms approach pro bono work. Wotherspoon is leading that change…[he] continues to volunteer hundreds of hours to have a meaningful impact on his community. Giving back to the communities in which we live, and work has become an instrumental component of Wotherspoon’s practice. Wotherspoon “represented the City of Abbotsford’s homeless, in a ground-breaking lawsuit challenging city bylaws that made it illegal to set up temporary shelters in public spaces."