Speech on Receiving Award of Excellence in Trusts & Estates Law

  • June 29, 2023
  • Howard S. Black, Miller Thomson LLP

Good evening to all of you, my dear colleagues, friends, and relatives.

First off, I offer my congratulations and best wishes to Calvin, Marni, and Suzana for the well-deserved awards that each of them has received this evening.

I have given many speeches and delivered many lectures over the years and, yet, I found the preparation of my remarks for this evening to be the most challenging and nerve-wracking of all of them.

How does one adequately thank and show my tremendous appreciation and gratitude to so many of you who are here this evening?

How does one meaningfully reflect back on 38 years of practising law in the field of wills and estates, and over 30 years of teaching at my alma mater, Osgoode Hall Law School?

How does one pass along a few lessons learned over all of these years in a manner that will hopefully be of even marginal benefit to those of you here this evening younger than I, particularly when that group seems to be growing larger year by year?

How do I properly convey some of these thoughts in a way that my new partners do not regret the decision they made to have me join their firm?

And, how does one do all of this in a reasonably short period of time without putting all of you to sleep?

Well, here goes nothing!

I am so extremely overwhelmed, humbled, immensely grateful, and emotional to be the recipient of this year’s OBA Award of Excellence in Trusts & Estates Law. I share this award with so many of you, without whom I would not be so privileged.

To the award committee, the Executive of the Trusts & Estates section, and to the staff of the OBA, I thank you for having bestowed this honour on me and for organizing this beautiful dinner here this evening.

To those of you who generously agreed to be sponsors for tonight’s dinner, I am truly appreciative.

The letters of support that so many of you sent to the committee leave me speechless. At one point, I thought that you were all writing eulogies!

Speaking of which: Do you remember when you were in high school and they had you take a vocational test to see where your future career interests may lie? Well, No. 1 on my list was a mortician, with lawyer coming in as No. 2!! So, I suppose it’s no great surprise that I ended up practising law in the area of wills and estates!!

I will never be able to adequately express my tremendous debt of gratitude to my dear friend and colleague, Sheila Morris, who championed the cause of nominating me for the award. I joked with Sheila that, if there weren’t already 102 candidates vying to be mayor of the City of Toronto, I might have considered putting my hat in the ring on condition that Sheila would be my campaign manager! (Actually, there was never any worry about that, because those of you who know me well, will readily agree with me when I say that I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the world of politics!) Sheila, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are an exceptionally skilled and astute lawyer, trusted colleague, and a wonderful friend! I will be forever grateful!