2018 OBA Awards Gala

  • April 11, 2018

2018 OBA Awards Gala


Canadian Cross Border Legal CoalitionCanadian Cross-Border Legal Coalition (CCBLC)

An outstanding group of volunteer lawyers who offered help to those affected by the U.S. government’s imposed travel bans (Executive Orders 13769 and 13780) are a perfect example of lawyers upholding the law and protecting peoples’ civil rights and liberties. The Canadian Cross-Border Legal Coalition, winner of the OBA President’s Award, represent the very best of lawyers preserving the law and serving the public.

At a time when civil rights and liberties and the protection of the law were tested to the extreme, the volunteer lawyers who make up the CCBLC arrived at Canadian airports ready to defend and support detained travellers affected by the Executive Orders, which had served as a travel ban for people from certain, mostly Muslim populated, countries. These passionate and dedicated lawyers acted quickly and responsibly to defend the law and ensure travellers, many of whom were anxious and confused, had the information, the resources and the assuredness they needed to pursue their rights and liberties.

Today, the lawyers remain committed to their cause, continuing to facilitate a coordinated effort across Canada to fight the ban, provide resources to the profession, educate the public about their rights, and help those who continue to be impacted by the U.S. ban.

OBA’s Award for Distinguished Service

Raj AnandRaj Anand

WeirFoulds LLP

An accomplished lawyer, Raj Anand has served both the profession and the public in a myriad of ways. As a Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario, he has led important initiatives such as the Law Society’s Working Group on Challenges faced by Racialized Lawyers and Paralegals. He has chaired Pro Bono Ontario, made pro bono contributions in several public interest cases, served as Human Rights Commissioner, and has been a teacher, leader, and friend to many individuals and organizations within the legal community and beyond. Raj is a partner, arbitrator, mediator and investigator with WeirFoulds LLP and remains wholly committed to the profession, to equality rights, and to advocacy throughout his work and volunteer efforts.

Michael TullochThe Honourable Michael H. Tulloch

Court of Appeal for Ontario

A model example of leadership and achievement, Justice Tulloch has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to the people of Ontario.  In his rise to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Justice Tulloch has established himself as a consummate professional dedicated to the people. His career has included service to the profession as President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the establishment of scholarships for disadvantaged youth, and offering mentorship and inspiration to others. A trusted advisor, Justice Tulloch is currently leading a high-profile, independent review of police oversight agencies for the Government of Ontario. His report will provide the government with recommendations on ways to enhance transparency and accountability of the province’s police oversight bodies.


Edwin UpenieksEdwin G. Upenieks

Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP

A long-time friend of the Ontario Bar Association, Ed Upenieks has spent a considerable amount of his career advancing the interests of OBA members and the role of the legal profession in Ontario. He is a lawyer who sees the value of the professional community and fosters that community growth and development at every turn. He encourages leadership, mentorship and engagement among lawyers at every stage in their career. He most recently did this through his work as OBA President in 2016-17 term with his message and mandate to get lawyers to “join in.” A dedicated lawyer, Ed’s spirit of volunteerism extends well beyond the OBA. He judges moots at the University of Toronto, has taught Bar Admission courses, and has held a number of community volunteer positions in his hometown of Brampton.


Jessica BraudeJessica S. Braude

Wilson Christen LLP

One of the three lead lawyers on the class action case, Brown v. Canada, Jessica and her team represented approximately 16,000 Ontario Sixties Scoop survivors. In this ground-breaking case, Jessica went to great lengths to ensure each plaintiff had a voice. Her travel to dozens of remote First Nations communities across the province, the hours she dedicated to educating First Nations communities about their rights and entitlements, and the materials she developed to enable the essential connections between lawyer and client are all fine examples of the contributions Jessica has made in both legal education and the development of the law for Ontarians.



 Lee AkazakiLee Akazaki

Gilbertson Davis LLP

A consummate professional, Lee Akazaki demonstrates his exceptional commitment to equity, fairness and civility in every encounter in and out of the courtroom.  Held in the highest regard by his peers, Lee is a consistent source of generous advice, guidance and mentorship. A long time contributor to the OBA, he has selflessly dedicated his time and effort to promoting professional behaviour within the legal profession. Lee acted as OBA’s delegate at the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism in 2010, and continues this work today as a working group committee member. As OBA President, he played an integral role in advancing the OBA Equality Committee and the development of the OBA Code of Ethics. His willingness to share his knowledge and expertise can be seen in his extensive writing, speaking engagements, volunteer commitments and community involvement.  As a practitioner, volunteer and mentor, Lee is an exemplary role model and invaluable member of the legal community. 

Marcia OliverMarcia Oliver 

Advocates LLP

Described as ‘tough but fair,’ Marcia sets the bar high with the exceptional level of professionalism and civility applied throughout her practice. Marcia exhibits these qualities not only in her interactions within the profession, but also through her impressive multitude of volunteer commitments.  A dedicated contributor, Marcia most recently successfully co-chaired the Ontario Bar Association’s Institute 2018 and serves on the executive of the Canadian Bar Association Construction and Infrastructure Law Section. As a certified Specialist in Construction Law by the Law Society of Ontario, Marcia willingly shares her considerable expertise with the legal community through her many CPD initiatives and her role as educator at the Ontario General Contractors Association and Fanshawe College. Her commitments also extend beyond the profession, as she sits on the Boards of both St. Stephen’s Community House and the Ontario Hunter Jumper Association. 

For ticket information, visit: www.oba.org/awardsgala2018