"A tireless advocate, mentor": Maryellen Symons

  • April 29, 2014

Maryellen Symons receives OBA Distinguished Service Award

Mary Ellen SymonsTORONTO -- Maryellen Symons says through her work as a lawyer and legal researcher, examining the law from a feminist perspective, she came to realize that laws “too often reflect and reinforce social inequities.”

However, her work through the OBA connected her to other women lawyers who were like-minded and made her think that change was possible.

“They inspired me to believe that we can change unjust laws and we can use law to rectify social inequities,” Symons said.

“Not that it is quickly or easily done. It is a perpetual challenge. I wanted to take up that challenge. At the OBA I have found many opportunities to act on those convictions.”

Symons made the comments as she received the OBA’s Award for Distinguished Service at the OBA Annual Awards Gala on April 24.

Lillian Camilleri, chair of the OBA Awards committee, said Symons is a mentor who nurtured the OBA Women Lawyers Forum to full OBA section status, served on the OBA equality and CLE committees, served on OBA Council, takes part in six OBA sections, and is the Ontario representative on the CBA Women Lawyers Forum.

Symons is “a tireless advocate, skillfully drawing attention to matters that might be missed,” Camilleri said as she presented the award, adding she is “a committed grassroots organizer who recognized from the outset the value a feminist framework could bring to the legal profession.”

“The distinguished service award is a great honour,” Symons said. “I am grateful to receive it.”

The distinguished service award was also given to Ian D. Kirby of Gilbert Kirby Stringer LLP and Paul D. Paton of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

View the 2014 OBA Award Gala,  photos and award presentations.