By the Law Society of Ontario
Members of Ontario’s legal professions will be recognized for their outstanding career achievements and contributions to their communities at the annual Law Society Awards ceremony, which will be held on May 24, 2023.
An in-person ceremony hosted by Treasurer Jacqueline Horvat will be attended by the recipients and their invited guests. A link to the webcast will be available for all others to view at: LSO.ca/2023AwardsEvent.
“The Law Society Awards acknowledge excellence in many forms,” said Law Society Treasurer Jacqueline Horvat. “I am so pleased to recognize this outstanding group of legal professionals who serve as excellent role-models for their fellow licensees. The professions are privileged to have you.”
The awards presented in May will include: The William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award, The Lincoln Alexander Award, The Laura Legge Award, The J. Shirley Denison Award and The Law Society Medal.
The following highlights the achievements of the 2023 recipients:
William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award
Paul Cappa Licensed in 2008, Paul Cappa was first employed as a Law Clerk with Cohen Highley LLP in 1990. Mr. Cappa became a partner in 2012 and from 2017 to 2019 he served as a Managing Partner. He has mentored and provided insight and training into best practices and procedures at the Landlord and Tenant Board and has guided licensees and articling students through the nuances of negotiation, mediation and resolution of complex regulatory legislation.
He is a speaker and presenter with numerous programs and organizations including the Law Society of Ontario, London Property Management Association and Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. He was a member of the executive of the London Property Management Association – including serving as President of the association – and as an active committee member of both the Greater Toronto Apartment Association and the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario.
Mr. Cappa is known for his exceptional professional competence, outstanding client service, professional achievements and his contributions to the profession, the multi-residential housing sector and the community at large.
Lincoln Alexander Award
Selwyn J. Hicks Called to the Bar in 2003, Selwyn Hicks is a respected lawyer with a history of community service spanning more than 40 years. Prior to being called to the Bar in 2003, Mr. Hicks was a social worker for 13 years and he also worked in the Legal Department at the Children’s Aid Society in Windsor.
After opening a law practice in Hanover in 2004, he committed himself to giving back to the community. He has a long history of volunteering with many organizations including: Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and, the Physician Recruitment and Retention committee.
Mr. Hicks was first elected to Hanover Council in 2006 and served until 2022. He also served three terms as Warden of Grey County, the first visible minority person to hold that office. He has been on the Board of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services since 2010 and chaired that board. He played important roles on the Bruce Grey Poverty Taskforce and the Grey County Affordable Housing Taskforce. He also helped develop the Grey County Mental Health and Addictions Taskforce.
Mr. Hicks continues to volunteer his time with a number of community organizations and groups.
Laura Legge Award
Courtney Harris Called to the Bar in 2003, Courtney Harris exemplifies leadership within the profession. She is one of the founding members and the de facto leader of Voices for Mental Health – a group of Ministry of the Attorney General employees who have fundamentally changed the landscape for mental health within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Mental health is now a key priority for the OPS and she has helped make that a reality. More broadly, in the legal profession, she has played a critical role in the creation and development of the Law Society’s Mental Health Summits, which reach thousands of members across the province each year.
In addition, she is a highly respected skilled advocate who promotes civility and empathy as attributes just as essential to the practice of law as substantive knowledge and analytical excellence. Ms. Harris has a gift for mentoring, teaching and bringing people together to tackle difficult issues. She created a mentoring program to support Ministry of the Attorney General articling students across the province through the isolation and stress of the pandemic. She has an extraordinary ability to empower people which in turn has led to many others undertaking initiatives to make the legal profession more inclusive – leading the way for a cultural change.
J. Shirley Denison Award
Tami Moscoe Called to the Bar in 1998, Tami Moscoe has been incredibly effective at delivering real, concrete improvements to benefit Ontario families.
A family lawyer who has worked for 10 years as Senior Family Counsel at the Superior Court of Justice and is currently on secondment at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Ms. Moscoe has been instrumental in many significant family justice improvements including the recent Unified Family Court and Dispute Resolution Officer program expansion, the introduction of automatic disclosure orders and Ontario’s unbundled legal services and binding judicial dispute resolution projects.
Ms. Moscoe has a proven track record of bringing together those with the ability and willingness to deliver timely and responsive solutions to complex and pressing challenges.
Her leadership, unlimited energy and zealous commitment have had a significant impact on advancing the interests of separating families in Ontario and ensuring that vulnerable family litigants can access the justice services they need. This includes having ensured that emergency legal services were available during the early stages of the pandemic and continuously advocating for better access to technology with the move to more virtual processes and court attendances.
Law Society Medal
François Baril Called to the Bar in 1998, François Baril is well-known to Ontario’s francophone legal community as an unfailing ally in advancing access to justice in French.
He served on the board of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO) for over a decade. Over the years, he has committed himself to AJEFO’S mission and to the next generation of francophone lawyers through mentoring, Continuing Legal Education programs and being a part time-professor at the University of Ottawa. Under his presidency (2014 to 2016), AJEFO launched the first legal information centre in Ottawa, which is now the Legal Information Centre of Ontario.
Mr. Baril also served on the Board of the Vanier Community Service Centre for over a decade where he helped steer the Clinique juridique francophone d’Ottawa. As a community leader, he was a driving force in the Ottawa Ville Bilingue movement, which in 2017 led to the legislative recognition of the City’s bilingual character.
Mr. Baril has led an exemplary legal career. A partner in a national firm, he has appeared at all levels of courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. He is a recognized expert in health law and language rights. He continues to use his privileged position to give back to his community and to the profession.
Ena Chadha Called to the Bar in 1994, Ena Chadha has been a litigator, lecturer, adjudicator, mediator and public service leader. Her career began with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) in 1994 and she subsequently became the Director of Litigation of ARCH: Disability Law Centre in 1999.
From 2007 to 2015, Ms. Chadha was Vice Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In 2018, she was appointed Chair of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. From July 2020 to August 2021, Ms. Chadha served as the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC, becoming one of only a handful who have served in the most senior leadership roles in all three pillars of Ontario’s human rights system.
Ms. Chadha led the OHRC during challenging times, confronting not only the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, but also escalating bigotry and extremism permeating the prevailing social turmoil. With passion and dedication, she helped steward the Province through an ever-changing landscape by strengthening relationships with government and by championing the rights of marginalized communities. Through her legal activism and extensive scholarship, Ms. Chadha has been a strong advocate for social justice reform and addressing systemic inequities to improve the lives of all Ontarians.
Reva Devins Called to the Bar in 1985, Reva Devins is a leader in the field of mediation, arbitration and the administration of class action settlements. Her practice focuses on labour, employment and human rights matters. She has also been appointed by supervising courts to determine claims under numerous class action settlements, spanning a wide range of personal injury, consumer and commercial actions. She has sensitively adjudicated claims under many social justice-based settlements, including claims for historic abuse at Federal Indian Day Schools, infection from blood products under the 1986-90 Hepatitis C settlement, and injuries from tainted water in Walkerton. Most recently, she was appointed to oversee the assessment of claims for sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces/Department of National Defence.
Ms. Devins is also a dedicated mentor. Colleagues cite her special blend of expertise and generosity which make her particularly appreciated. Despite a heavy workload, she is never too busy to nurture new adjudicators, offering valuable feedback and inspirational support to a generation of newcomers. She has also served on the executive committee of the Ontario Labour Management Arbitrators Association and taught Legal Ethics and Professionalism as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Igor Ellyn, KC Called to the Bar in 1973, Igor Ellyn was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1984. For the past 50 years, Mr. Ellyn has been an exceptional advocate, respected mediator and arbitrator, extraordinary mentor and role model. As a multilingual lawyer, he has represented clients from different cultures and origins. He is truly a fearless advocate who never settles for anything other than what is in a client’s best interests.
Mr. Ellyn has demonstrated professional leadership throughout his career, notably serving as president of the Ontario Bar Association in the mid-1990’s. He was active in Canadian Bar Association affairs and also served as a vice-president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
Mr. Ellyn is a generous mentor with an unwavering commitment to coach and teach the next generation of lawyers. He has had a long and distinguished legal career and is still going strong. He has contributed to the legal profession and to the community through his passion for equality and human rights and his commitment to volunteerism. His experience and personal stories from the last half-century should be shared to inspire new lawyers and demonstrate all that can be accomplished in a career and a lifetime.
Ian Hull Called to the Bar in 1990, Ian Hull is one of the leading estates and trusts lawyers in Canada. He is the author, co-author and contributing author on many estate and trust publications including the leading text on probate practice. He has been a lecturer on estate issues in Ontario, Canada and in other foreign jurisdictions.
His leadership was critical during the COVID-19 crisis working with Ministry of the Attorney General and the courts to modernize key elements so that Ontarians could address important affairs during the pandemic. His efforts resulted in amendments to Provincial legislation and were immeasurably helpful, particularly to the most vulnerable – who did not have easy access to the Ontario justice system.
Mr. Hull is described a “an innovator of the Bar.” He spearheaded the creation of eState Planner, an estate planning software program designed to assist the estate planning and will drafting community and their clients. His community contributions are also noteworthy, especially his contribution to the Law Society Foundation and his tireless devotion to the Lawyers Feed the Hungry program.
W. Randall Seller Called to the Bar in 1977, Randy Seller has been practising law in Kenora for 45 years with an unwavering passion and commitment. He is a front-line practitioner and known to be the “go-to” lawyer amongst both his colleagues and citizens of the community.
Mr. Seller is committed to the education and mentoring of the next generation of lawyers, always leading by example and demonstrating leadership, professionalism, excellence and integrity. He has mentored and educated a generation of lawyers on complex areas of property development and transactional matters, all while ensuring an understanding of client-centered services is the ultimate goal.
Despite a demanding practice, for 45 years he has consistently devoted time, creativity and expertise to improve the lives of those in his community through his roles as legal counsel, part-time Crown Attorney and 20+ years as a Small Claims Court Deputy Judge, and also through his extensive personal volunteerism.
He has provided leadership as past president of the local Rotary, Curling and Golf Clubs, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Kenora and Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation. His selfless charitable works and influence have grown the community in countless positive ways.
The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.