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Celebrating excellence

My favourite aspect of putting together Canadian Lawyer’s annual Top 25 Most Influential is receiving nominations for it. Some nominators are very brief, providing simply a name and one or two other bits of information. Others wax poetic for hundreds of words describing the work and accomplishments of the person whose name they have put forward. But no matter how they come in — and I urge readers to keep their eyes open for the request for nominees next spring — I’m always impressed by their variety and quality.

Some of the nominees are quite obvious — Alberta Premier Alison Redford, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, even Chief Justice Warren Winkler — as much of what they do is in the spotlight due to their position or the cases they take on, but the influence that others have may not be so apparent or widely known in the legal profession as whole. Not everyone makes the final list, but the overall accomplishments of all the nominees are inspirational and notable. Reading about the quiet but continuing efforts of new inductee criminal lawyer Bill Trudell around the issue of mental health in general but particularly within the justice system is inspiring. Knowing that Supreme Court Justice Morris Fish is there, increasing alone, standing up for the rights of the accused is as well. The dedication to change of lawyers like Dianne Corbiere and Rosemary McCarney who both, in different areas, focus on standing up for the rights of others is also worth celebrating.

While each year, we have a number of faces returning to our Top 25 list — such as Alan Young, Joseph Arvay, Michael Geist, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Jennifer Stoddart, and Melanie Aitken — it’s encouraging to see a raft of new influencers making the cut. But I suspect that, as always, not everyone will agree with our choices, so don’t be shy about making your opinions on the list known. As well, any suggestions for next year’s list are welcome at any time. You can e-mail me at or leave a comment at Just keep in mind that the list honours those lawyers who have had influence over the course of the previous year to year and a half and have made an impact within the profession as well as Canadian society.