TORONTO, Wednesday, May 18, 2022 — The first racialized judge to sit on the Ontario Court of Appeal is the 2022 recipient of Osgoode Hall Law School’s Alumni Gold Key Award for achievement – 50 years after his graduation.
The Honourable Russell Juriansz ’72 is one of seven recipients of Osgoode’s 2022 Gold Key Awards for distinguished alumni in the categories of achievement, public sector, community service and ones to watch. The Gold Key Awards celebrate the contributions of Osgoode alumni to the legal profession and the community in those four categories.
This year’s awards will be announced on Wednesday, May 18 during the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Board annual general meeting, which will be held virtually.
Other 2022 honourees include human rights lawyer Ena Chadha ’08 (LLM) and environmental lawyer Ramani Nadarajah ’87, ’07 (LLM) – both in the public sector category – and Toronto corporate lawyer Samuel Schwartz ’72 in the service category.
Recipients in the ones-to-watch category are Ann Marina Elias ’13 of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Toronto intellectual property lawyer Maneesha Gupta ’17, and New York City-based commercial real estate lawyer Lucas Kilravey ’18.
“Our students and alumni are all accomplished individuals by definition,” said Osgoode Dean Mary Condon. “But our annual Alumni Gold Key Awards celebrate those who have reached remarkable heights in representing Osgoode’s values of excellence, innovation, justice, equity and service.”
Condon also announced the recipients of the law school’s other major alumni awards for 2022: Mentor of the Year (nominated by students in the Osgoode Mentor Program) and the Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice Through Law – awarded to members of the Canadian legal community who demonstrate the kind of commitment to achieving social justice and fairness through the law that was exemplified by Dianne Martin (1945-2004), a leading criminal lawyer and former Osgoode faculty member.
The recipient of the 2022 Dianne Martin Medal is Tracy Heffernan ’93, who was most recently tenant duty counsel program director for the Toronto-based Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. The Mentor of the Year award goes to Derrick Guo ‘08, chief legal officer at Traferox Technologies Inc., a Toronto-based medical device company.
About Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, founded in Toronto in 1889, is among the oldest, largest and most distinguished law schools in Canada, with a diverse and accomplished alumni community of more than 18,000 worldwide.
About York University
York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York’s fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario’s Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.
NOTE: See below for biographies of recipients.
John Schofield, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, (416) 736-5820, firstname.lastname@example.org
Russell Juriansz ’72 (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, Achievement): The Honourable Russell Juriansz’s career exemplifies a dedication to the law, the profession and to public service. As an Osgoode student, he served as president of the Legal and Literary Society, the law school’s students’ association, and received a students’ Gold Key Award. He went on to lead an accomplished career as a human rights and constitutional law lawyer, arguing several seminal cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, including Bhinder v. CNR, one of the first cases to recognize the concept of adverse-effect discrimination, and Robichaud v. Canada (Treasury Board), the first sexual harassment case to reach Canada’s highest court. In 1988, he became the first person of South Asian origin to be named to the Superior Court of Ontario. He was elevated to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004 and retired from that role in September 2021. Throughout his career, he has been a frequent writer, editor, speaker and teacher on subjects related to human rights law. In 2015, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the Law Society of Upper Canada, now known as the Law Society of Ontario. “His work as a lawyer and a judge helped shape Canadian law as he sought to find a delicate balance between the rights of individuals and the needs of the state” the law society said in its citation.
Ena Chadha ’08 (LLM) (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, Public Sector): From the beginning of her legal career, Ena Chadha has been committed to the advancement of equity in the legal profession, social justice and public service. Currently the chair of the board of directors of the Toronto-based Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Chadha is also a sessional lecturer with the Schulich School of Business at York University and a former chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In part of 2019 and 2020, she served as a co-reviewer for an Ontario Ministry of Education probe into systemic racism at the Peel District School Board. She has also worked as director of litigation with the ARCH Disability Law Centre, a sole practitioner in human rights, refugee and employment law, and external counsel to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Along with regular volunteer work, she has spoken widely on human rights issues and published extensively on equality rights. “Ena is an outstanding candidate for this award as she exemplifies a longstanding commitment to dismantling discrimination and bringing critical light to processes that institutionalize exclusion,” wrote another nominator. “Few have had such meaningful impact in raising awareness in the area of disability and human rights, and in supporting law students, than Ena. Her expertise and dedication have driven transformative, positive change in Ontario.”
Ramani Nadarajah ’87, ’07 (LLM) (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, Public Sector): During the course of her legal career, Ramani Nadarajah has made a significant contribution to the development of environmental law and policy in Canada. She has served as counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) since 1994. Prior to that, she worked as counsel in the Legal Services Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and counsel in the Crown Law Office for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Certified as an environmental law specialist by the Law Society of Ontario, Nadarajah has appeared before almost all levels of court on prosecutions, appeals, civil actions, judicial review applications and interventions. Among other things, she played a central role in advancing the enactment of legislation in Ontario to counter the use of so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), which are defined as frivolous legal actions by plaintiffs designed to prevent individuals or groups from engaging in issues of public interest. As counsel for CELA, she has also worked on complex litigation files, including as co-counsel for Concerned Walkerton Citizens, which represented residents of Walkerton, Ont. who were affected by the contamination of the town’s water supply in 2000. She has also made significant contributions to her alma mater, the community and the profession. “I believe that her career demonstrates a sustained and extraordinary commitment to social justice and public service,” says her nomination package. “Her involvement in cases establishing important principles in regulatory and administrative environmental law, beginning with her work at the MOE (Ministry of the Environment) and continuing at CELA, is exemplary.”
Samuel Schwartz ’72 (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, Service): Sam Schwartz’s distinguished legal career has always been marked by a dedication to giving back. He is the founder of Toronto-based The Strategy Law Group and was managing partner for the Toronto office of Davis LLP, now DLA Piper, from 2008 to 2016. He practises in the areas of corporate/commercial law, corporate finance structuring and securities law, including merchant banking and public and private company transactions. In June 2015, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from York University in recognition for his successful corporate legal career, community building and volunteerism. He is a member of the York University Board of Governors, an honorary university governor for life, and a 2014 recipient of the university’s Bryden Alumni Award for Outstanding Contribution. He served on the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Board from 2015 to 2021 and was the Osgoode alumni representative in the search for the law school’s new dean in 2019. In that role, he solicited the views of fellow Osgoode alumni, attended all meetings and reported to the board. He is also a generous donor to the law school and is always willing to mentor Osgoode students. “We are blessed to be able to have the best and the brightest lead us into the next generation,” he told the law school’s alumni newsletter, Osgoode Brief, in the Fall 2018 issue. “But they won’t do that – they can’t do that – without the senior members of society putting themselves out and providing their experience and understanding.”
Tracy Heffernan ’93 (2022 Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice Through Law): Tracy Heffernan’s inspiring career has been driven by a dedication to ensuring that low-income people have access to justice. Her 25-year career in the community legal clinic system began as a tenant duty counsel before becoming a longtime staff lawyer with Kensington Bellwoods Community Legal Services in downtown Toronto. Most recently, she was a staff lawyer and provincial director of the tenant duty counsel program at Toronto-based Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO). From 2009 to 2017, she served as co-counsel for the pioneering Right to Housing Coalition, whose lobbying and legal efforts helped persuade the federal Liberal government in 2017 to introduce its National Housing Strategy and to enshrine the right to housing in legislation. Among her many other achievements, Heffernan was awarded the Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship in 2012 by the Law Foundation of Ontario to explore the potential of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other legal instruments to reduce homelessness. Throughout her career, she has acted as a lawyer and an educator, authoring papers, giving guest lectures and speaking many times at public legal education events, deputations, workshops and town halls. “She is a tireless and highly respected advocate and a leading voice in her field,” says her nomination letter. “In our view, Tracy Heffernan’s life’s work exemplifies the essence of what Dianne Martin represented in her own fearless and principled commitment to ‘kick through the darkness until it bleeds daylight’ and to the ideal of ‘justice through law.’”
Derrick Guo ’08 (2022 Mentor of the Year): During a difficult year still permeated by pandemic restrictions, Derrick Guo went the extra mile as a mentor to help students – even amid his many commitments as chief legal officer for Traferox Technologies, a rapidly growing, Toronto-based medical technology firm. Prior to that, Guo served as chief legal officer for Novadaq Technologies Inc. and was a Toronto-based associate with Stikeman Elliott LLP from 2007 to 2014. “Derrick has far exceeded my expectations and I am so very thankful for his mentorship this year,” said one mentee. “(He) is available at a moment’s notice. Derrick has been great when it comes to talking about law firm life,” the mentee added. “But he also offers a second perspective as an executive and in-house counsel to a private company.”
Lucas Kilravey ’18 (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, One to Watch): Lucas Kilravey is a dynamic leader with a passion for service and an impressive record of achievement early in his career. He began his career with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) in Toronto, where he was brought in early on some of BLG’s largest deals. In his first year at BLG, he was appointed chair of the BLGTQA+ Affinity Group, the firm’s LGBTQ2S+ employee resource group, launching initiatives aimed at improving equity, diversity and inclusion and promoting systemic change in the legal profession. He designed, developed and executed LGBTQ2S+ “firm hops,” bringing together hundreds of LGBTQ2S+ law students from across Canada to tour and engage with more than 40 law firm partners. He then leveraged the event to launch Canada’s first national LGBTQ2S+ legal mentorship program and is leading a team organizing the Canadian legal profession’s first conference for LGBTQ2S+ lawyers and law students, slated for Toronto in June 2022. Kilravey, who now works as an associate with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York, also proposed and co-organized BLG’s first national Indigenous recruitment and engagement strategy. In recognition of his work, he received the Start Proud Emerging Leader Award in 2021 and was featured in CBC-TV’s Proud to Shine series in 2020. “The hallmark of Lucas’s budding career,” says his nomination letter, “has been his bold vision and his willingness to think big, even when the task ahead is difficult. His exceptional, sustained and impactful professional achievements to date make him most deserving of the prestigious One-to-Watch Award.”
Ann Marina Elias ’13 (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, One to Watch): In a young career marked by “passion, persistence and creativity,” Ann Marina Elias has already made significant contributions to social justice, the public service, Osgoode Hall Law School and the community-at-large. As a federal prosecutor since 2017 with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Elias has developed particular expertise in the areas of trial advocacy and the use of confidential informants, sharing her expert knowledge as an adviser, presenter and teacher to new prosecutors, police investigators and law students. Her work as an educator includes teaching courses at Osgoode Hall Law School and Osgoode Professional Development. She is also a formal mentor for the Osgoode Black Law Students’ Association. At the same time, she has actively worked within the federal prosecution service to recruit and develop talented and diverse students. In a first for the federal prosecution service, she created and implemented the Ontario Regional Office Mentorship Program. And as chair of the program, she designed and launched a virtual trial advocacy master class over the summer of 2020. She has also sought to give back to her community as a committed mock-trial coach for St. Augustine Catholic High School. For her extracurricular work in the context of her career and community, she was awarded the 2020 national Innovation and Creativity Award by the director of public prosecutions and the Altman Award for Fellowship and Excellence in Legal Education by the Ontario and Superior Courts in the Central East Region. “I have no doubt that she will continue to be a leader in the public sector,” wrote her nominator.
Maneesha Gupta ’17 (2022 Alumni Gold Key Award, One to Watch): Maneesha Gupta has shown exceptional leadership, professionalism and compassion not only in her career, but in her dedication to promoting mental health and equity and opportunity for racialized lawyers and law students, women, youth and people with disabilities. The intellectual property and technology lawyer with TD Bank is the founder of Mindful Lawyer Canada, which she launched in 2018 to help lawyers who experience isolation, mental illness, addiction and burnout. She expanded her innovative group meditation sessions and community-building activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including weekly, virtual guided meditation sessions for Osgoode students through the law school’s peer support centre. For her work in improving lawyer mental health, she was selected as one of York University’s Top 30 Under 30 Changemakers and one of Canadian Lawyer magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada. As a director with the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, she has developed career advancement and mentorship opportunities for foreign-trained lawyers, racialized law students, women and persons with disabilities. She has shown the same dedication to diversity and inclusion in her work as vice-chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section and as a mentor for a youth program in Toronto’s Jane and Finch community. “Maneesha is a driven lawyer,” reads her nomination letter, “who has improved the lives of others by pioneering initiatives in mental health, community building and diversity representation.”