A “Lawyer’s Lawyer”: Celebrating the achievements of Chris Paliare

  • October 04, 2016
  • The Hon. Stephen Goudge, QC, Linda Rothstein and Richard P. Stephenson

Chris PaliareMentored by the late and great Ian Scott, Chris began his career in 1973 as a partner at Cameron Brewin & Scott. As a young lawyer he quickly became known for his advocacy skills, taking many briefs to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada in a wide range of practice areas: labour and administrative law, contracts, torts and constitutional litigation.

As a result, Chris became well known and greatly admired by the judiciary: he is quick on his feet, his submissions are a combination of deep preparation, common sense, careful logic and humour. They describe Chris as someone who clearly loves the courtroom and who is a “natural”.

As Chris’s experience and reputation grew, he became a “go-to” guy for difficult briefs – an unreasonable jury verdict an insurance company sought to overturn on appeal, a ground-breaking constitutional case opposing the “mega-city” amalgamation, the defence of a tobacco executive, a billion-dollar dispute over a gold mine in Chile. In a world of increasing specialization, Chris has succeeded at doing the opposite – taking on ever more diverse briefs in virtually any subject area.

Today, Chris is one of Ontario’s great “counsel” – a lawyer’s lawyer called on to supply his unique combination of advocacy skills. As tenacious and determined as he is, he is also unfailingly civil and immensely likable. Those who have had the experience of appearing against him in court, even the advocates whom he has beaten soundly, inevitably become his friends.

Legal education and mentoring

It is impossible to overstate the amount of young lawyers Chris has mentored, guided, befriended and assisted. His enthusiasm is infectious and his commitment to law and advocacy draws other lawyers to him. Although he is not a coffee drinker himself, for years he led a group of 3-10 lawyers to the local Starbucks so he could buy them a coffee and talk about what they were up to. As the group paraded down University Avenue one could not help but be touched by how much Chris revelled in the opportunity to spend time helping younger lawyers find their way in the profession.

Many of Chris’s protégés have shared a common experience: after conducting an examination or making a submission, the judge or opposing counsel will remark, “Has anyone ever told you that you sound just like Mr. Paliare?” These remarks are made (and received) as high praise. They reflect the indelible mark that Chris has made with the Court, with his colleagues at the bar, and most importantly, with the many lawyers who have learned from him.

Chris has 40 years of experience teaching law and advocacy at CLE sessions in numerous disciplines (he still teaches at ITAW most summers at Osgoode Hall). He is also a frequent presenter for the NJI and has participated in education sessions for both the Supreme Court of Canada and the US Supreme Court.


Chris’s significant dedication to pro bono pre-dates most of his peers. In fact, some of Chris’s early successes in the Court of Appeal were on behalf of pro bono clients. For generations of budding lawyers, their first knowledge of Chris was seeing his name in administrative law casebooks as the counsel that made the “able and attractive argument” on the behalf of Mrs. Webb in the Court of Appeal in Re Webb and Ontario Housing Corporation. Less known was that he was just a fifth year lawyer, and that this one of his many cases, before and since, done pro bono.

Chris’s career has been a lifetime of excellence in advocacy. His remarkable talent deserves to be recognized. We extend our congratulations to Chris upon winning the 2016 Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation.

About the Authors

The Honourable Stephen T. Goudge is a well-known and highly respected member of Canada’s legal community. He became counsel to Paliare Roland in 2014, having served on the Court of Appeal for Ontario since 1996. 

Linda Rothstein is a partner with Paliare Roland. Her high profile work as Commission Counsel to the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology, counsel to the City of Toronto in the Computer Leasing Inquiry and lead counsel to the Motherisk Hair Analysis Review have cemented her reputation as one of Ontario’s leading advocates.

Richard P. Stephenson, a partner with Paliare Roland, is the lawyer that other lawyers consult with when faced with their most difficult legal challenges. He brings a keen analytical approach to the resolution of the complex factual and legal problems, in both the private law and public law spheres. 


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