OBA Randall Echlin Mentorship Award

2020 Award Recipient

Yola Grant

Yola Grant, M.Sc. LL.B 
Workplace & Complex Issues Resolution

The OBA Labour and Employment Law Section is pleased to announce Yola GrantWorkplace & Complex Issues Resolutions, the recipient of the 2020 OBA Randall Echlin Mentorship Award. 

The Award presentation will take place virtually on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. 

Register for the Event

Biography of Yola Grant, M.Sc. LL.B

Yola was called to the bar in 1989 and for three decades she has worked in employment and labour law, litigation and policy, both in the public service and in private practice. She served as a Crown Prosecutor and Tribunal Counsel before founding a private practice (Grant & Bernhardt, 1998-2014) during which time she began her work as a “neutral” in grievance arbitrations, mediations and investigations. She was appointed Associate Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) in 2014 and in 2020 returned to private practice as a “neutral”. Alongside her practice, Yola has served as an articling principal and as a mentor to over twenty lawyers.

The Randall Echlin Award recognizes mentorship, contributions to law and community. Throughout Yola’s various roles as a practicing lawyer, and even as a law student, she has consistently mentored younger lawyers and high school students who were interested in pursuing law. To this end, she has encouraged and supported new entrants to the bar, particularly Black women and men, and thus contributed to the growth and retention of these practitioners within the legal profession. Regarding development of the law, she participated in a successful lobby to provide for direct access to human rights adjudication. A decade later, as Associate Chair of HRTO, she decided important cases regarding discrimination based on age and citizenship. Furthermore, in her administrative role at HRTO, she recruited a roster of mediators and adjudicators that better reflected the diverse make-up of Ontarians. Over the decades, she has served on the board of many non-profit organizations and has been a regular contributor to the OBA, LSO, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and the Black Female Lawyers Network, all of which have provided her with opportunities to establish formal and informal mentorship relationships and be of service to the community.

About the Award

The Randall Echlin Mentorship Award (the “Award”) was established in 2013 by the Ontario Bar Association’s Labour and Employment Law Section in honour of the late Justice Echlin, former Judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and leading member of the employment and labour bar.   The Award recognizes Justice Echlin’s exceptional contributions, both to the law, and as an influential mentor, during his career.


To be eligible for the Randall Echlin Mentorship Award, an individual must be a member of the Ontario employment and labour bar, a member of the judiciary in Ontario, a Member of the Ontario Labour Relations Board or a labour Arbitrator and have made a significant contribution in the following areas:

  • Leadership through mentorship of junior counsel in the employment and labour bar or judiciary
  • Guidance and teaching through the sharing of knowledge and experience
  • Enhancement of the practice of employment and labour law
  • Contribution to the development of employment and labour law and policy
  • Skill in advocacy or adjudication related to employment and labour policy
  • Commitment and contribution to the community

Applications should include:

  • Statements from direct mentees of the nominee (if possible including one or more non-current employees of the nominee); and,
  • Statements from third party neutrals (mediators, arbitrators, members of the bench) regarding the mentoring done by the nominee;

The committee specifically invites nominees to speak about diversity factors including but not limited to the ways in which the candidate has factors of diversity and/or how they have supported those from diverse backgrounds. The OBA as a diverse organization values diversity and is committed to a process that honours the entire profession. The committee thus encourages all applications from any and all equity seeking groups.

Criteria for Selection

Nominees must meet the OBA Universal Minimum Criteria for Section Awards which provide that:

  • All eligible candidates must be OBA members
  • Eligible candidates cannot be members of the current OBA Labour and Employment Section Executive
  • The award shall be given to one (1) recipient only each year

In addition, a nominee must not be a current member or a member of the previous years’ Award Selection Committee or the OBA Board of Directors and must not have been a past recipient of the Randall Echlin Mentorship Award. 

Application Requirements

An individual submitting a nominee for consideration must:

  • Complete a nomination form
  • Provide a brief summary of no more than three (3) typed pages explaining how the nominee meets the Award criteria above
  • Provide no more than three (3) references (if desired)
  • Provide a copy of the nominee’s current CV
  • Confirm that the nominee has been advised of and consents to his or her nomination

If the above noted application requirements are not followed, the nominee will not be considered.

Award Selection Committee

Each year, an Award Selection Committee (the “Committee”) will be struck by the OBA Labour and Employment Law Section Executive.  All Committee members are subject to the following requirements:

  • Strict confidentiality of all selection process discussions and decisions
  • May only participate in the Committee for a maximum of two (2) consecutive  years
  • May not nominate, provide a reference for or be a nominee for a period of two (2) years after the last year of being a Committee member

Following receipt of the Award, recipients will be invited to be a Committee member.

Selection Process

The selection of the Award will be made by the Committee.   

Previous submissions will not be retained by the Committee.  However, an individual may request that a nominee considered in previous years be reconsidered.  In such cases, it is expected that the application will be resubmitted and updated in accordance with the application requirements.

Presentation of the Award

The Award will be presented at a virtual Award presentation hosted by the OBA Labour and Employment Law Section in February 2021. 


Gordon Lau
Sections/PD Co-ordinator
(800) 668-8900 or (416) 869-1047 x 328

Past Recipients

Past recipient winners of the OBA Randall Echlin Mentorship Award include:

  • 2019 - James K. McDonald
  • 2018 - Douglas MacLeod
  • 2017 - Melanie Reist
  • 2016 - Malcolm MacKillop
  • 2015 - Connie Reeve
  • 2014 - Peter Israel
  • 2013 - M. Norman Grosman