OBA Celebrates Profession’s Best at Annual Awards Gala

  • June 21, 2024

TORONTO – The Ontario Bar Association honoured some of the best and brightest stars of the legal profession on Thursday during its annual Awards Gala.

“Tonight, we celebrate the cumulative contributions of members who have, in rising to the top of their respective fields, made a point of lifting up others right alongside them,” OBA President Kelly McDermott said during her opening remarks. “These are lawyers invested in the wellbeing and success of their peers and successors, impassioned about volunteering time and talent to causes that matter, and active in the issues and conversations that impact the broader legal profession.

“They are paragons of professionalism, mentors with influence, and peers we can count on. On behalf of the OBA Board and our 16,000 members, I congratulate all of tonight’s honorees on your well-deserved recognition.”

McDermott recognized three lawyers from the law firm of Conway Baxter Wilson LLP in Ottawa with the annual OBA President’s Award. Thomas G. Conway, Abdalla Barqawi and Mohammed Elshafie were selected because they are setting the bar for accommodation and creating a space where all lawyers can thrive.

“This firm has demonstrated exceptional leadership in moving the dial on accommodations for lawyers living and working with disabilities in the legal profession,” says McDermott. “They have set the gold standard in workplace accommodations. Their focus is on providing an environment where lawyers living with disabilities can thrive and shine and not simply adapt.”

 “Their work exemplifies the transformative power of inclusivity and removing barriers to success for all members of our profession.”

“We never shrink from doing great things, but we never make them more difficult than they ought to be," said Elshafie, who is blind. "Everyone at our firm has made sure and continues to make sure that our place of work is not only accessible and welcoming, but that everyday makes you wish for tomorrow because you know if will be better than today, even though today seems absolutely excellent.”

Other awards to be handed out during Thursday’s gala were:

Award for Distinguished Service

Lisa Borsook, WeirFoulds LLP
Sidney H. Troister, KC, Torkin Manes

Joel Kuchar Award for Professionalism and Civility

Katherine DiTomaso, Stieber Berlach LLP

Linda Adlam Manning Award for Volunteerism

Paul Lomic, Lomic Law

Orlando Da Silva Award for Improvement of Mental Wellbeing in the Justice Sector

Doron Gold, The Lawyer Therapist

OBA Foundation Award

Empowerment Council

Mundell Medal for Legal Writing

Professor Karen Eltis, University of Ottawa

“This is an event that I know our community looks forward to – and turns up for in full force – every year,” Carissa Tanzola, chair of the OBA Awards Committee, said. “Recognizing not only the impressive career achievements, but the admirable approach our honorees have taken to the practice of law – the civility, generosity, and care for the strength and future of this profession – reminds us of the real impact lawyers make on the lives of those we represent and those we work alongside in advancing justice.”