The Top 25 Most Influential 2017 - Changemakers

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Tim Wilbur and Mallory Hendry Posted Date: August 8, 2017

Changemakers

Christa Big Canoe Senior counsel, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry Toronto

Christa Big Canoe has worked at Aboriginal Legal Services for years representing indigenous people as legal advocacy director, but she is currently on a two-year leave after being named senior counsel for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry in January. She also represented six of seven families of indigenous students whose deaths were the subject of a coroner’s inquest in Thunder Bay, Ont. The Seven Youth Inquest resulted in 145 recommendations for the federal and provincial governments. The recommendations, delivered in June 2016, are directed at improving accountability, safety and education outcomes for Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth. Most recently, she successfully represented the plaintiff in the Indian Act sex discrimination case Gehl v. Canada (Attorney General). After years of fighting to gain Lynn Gehl Indian status, Big Canoe was successful in April after Ontario’s top court’s decision came down. The act is currently being amended to remove sex-based discrimination.

What voters had to say:

“Very passionate about her profession and fights for what’s right.”

“Great lawyer who will do what is right and tell the truth.”

Anne McLellan Senior advisor, Bennett Jones LLP Edmonton Edmonton

Former minister of public safety, health and justice in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin and also a former law professor at the University of Alberta, Anne McLellan most recently was appointed chairwoman of the Task Force on the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis, the panel that submitted recommendations to the federal government on the design of a new system to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. A host of new legislation, announced in April, relied heavily on the recommendations of the federal task force McLellan led. Since her work with the task force ended in December 2016, McLellan has been speaking at industry-sponsored events across Canada on her role in the legislation as well as commenting on the issue regularly in the media.

What voters had to say:

“She is truly fearless.”

“The most ethical professional I know.”

“I’ve never seen a better consensus builder.”

Shannon Salter Chairwoman, British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal Vancouver

Shannon Salter has been the driving force behind the development and implementation of Canada’s first online tribunal, the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which went live June 1. She has ensured the CRT claims registration process is easily accessible and in plain language. The dispute resolution software that has been developed by the CRT will be able to be used by other administrative tribunals to assist in resolving disputes in the future. While developing the CRT, Salter continued to teach administrative law and legal ethics as an adjunct professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, where she received the Adam Albright Award for Teaching Excellence by an Adjunct Professor in 2016. She joined the Access to Justice All-Stars from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project and was recognized as one of Canada’s 26 New-Law Pioneers by the Canadian Bar Association last year. Salter is also a board member of CanLII.

What voters had to say:

“The reach of Shannon Salter’s work can be felt as far away as New Jersey in the United States, where her materials are shown to law students as inspiration.”

Sharon Vogel & Bruce Reynolds Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and national leader, BLG’s Construction Group Toronto
Chairman, BLG International Construction Projects Group Toronto

Over the last two years, Sharon Vogel and Bruce Reynolds have been at the forefront of change in Ontario’s construction industry leading up to the fundamental amendment of Ontario’s Construction Lien Act, which is currently under consideration by the provincial government. Reynolds and Vogel recently acted as co-counsel for the Ontario government to conduct an independent expert review of the act. The duo put together a report of recommendations on the modernization of the act, while also shepherding industry stakeholders to the next phase of its development through ongoing drafting work and consultation. In April 2016, they delivered the report to the province including approximately 100 recommendations for the modernization of the act. As part of their ongoing retainer, they have worked with the Ministry of the Attorney General to prepare a draft bill and have continued with industry consultation. This year, Vogel was the recipient of an award from the Ontario General Contractors Association, while Reynolds was the recipient of one from the Toronto Construction Association. They both received awards from the Council of Ontario Construction Associations for their contributions to the construction industry as well. Vogel has also been program faculty for Osgoode’s Certificate in Construction Law professional development course for the last few years.

What voters had to say:

“Sharon is a leading voice and changemaker in construction law. She is authoritative, engaged and dedicated.”

“Bruce is a meticulous, professional and absolutely innovative individual.”

Adam Wagman Senior partner, Howie Sacks and Henry LLP Toronto

Over the past year, there has been an unprecedented amount of media attention, as well as law society action, in the area of personal injury law, and Adam Wagman has been a key voice in the discussion. He was the president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association from June 2016 to April 2017. He led the development of a consumer-friendly contingency fee agreement that is more understandable and clear for the public. He also oversaw the dissemination of the new OTLA Code, the code of conduct for personal injury lawyers. He led the firm’s submissions to the Law Society of Upper Canada to address fair and honest advertising by the sector and to have a transparent referral fee that is capped at a reasonable level. Wagman identified to the government and to David Marshall, special advisor to the government, that the automobile insurance system in Ontario is broken and needs to be rebuilt. He ensured that both written and oral submissions were made on this subject with clear and tangible solutions to reduce costs for the benefit of consumers.

What voters had to say:

“Adam carried himself with grace through a very difficult year for plaintiff personal injury lawyers. He continuously demonstrates leadership and professionalism and is the epitome of what it means to be an advocate.”

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+1 # Mr.Kelvin h 2017-08-08 11:26
It's a shame Richard Mclaren didn't make the list, his report on doping in Russia was definitely drew the most international attention and made the most international impact in terms of work done by a Canadian lawyer.
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