Vancouver, BC – The Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC) celebrated outstanding lawyers in British Columbia at its annual branch awards presentation on Saturday, June 17 at the Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond, BC.
Equality & Diversity Award Winner
Adrienne Smith of Adrienne Smith Law
This award celebrates a lawyer who has successfully advanced equality in BC. Adrienne Smith is a long-standing advocate for the rights of transgender and gender diverse British Columbians. Adrienne has served as a volunteer lawyer in a summary legal advice clinic for transgender people offering free advice on human rights, criminal, family and employment law, and free notarization of name change forms. As a young lawyer, Adrienne argued the deleterious effects of mandatory minimum sentences on women, aboriginal offenders and drug users at the Supreme Court of Canada and the BC Court of Appeal.
Harry Rankin, QC Pro Bono Award Winner
Donna Turko of Turko & Company
In memory of Harry Rankin, QC’s immense support of access to justice for the poor, this award acknowledges the contribution of pro bono work. Donna Turko’s pro bono commitments include providing seminars on prisons and parole issues for non-profit groups and organizations. She is on the CBA’s National Criminal Justice Section committee on imprisonment and release. And in 2005, Donna won at the Supreme Court of Canada in determining the legality of decisions affecting prisoners’ liberty.
Innovative Workplace Award Winner
Labour Rights Law Office
This award recognizes creative leadership and innovative strategy in the workplace. The Labour Rights Law Office in Coquitlam is one of the first virtual law firms in Canada practicing employment, labour and human rights law. Through user-friendly and reliable tech, the Labour Rights Law Office delivers high quality, cost-efficient legal services to a diverse clientele. The virtual practice reduces overhead and assists clients in remote locations where there is no local employment, labour or human rights lawyer. To the extent its litigation practice permits, the firm is paperless. One of its lawyers was first to present a paperless judicial review application in the BC Supreme Court. Each lawyer has a home office with flexible hours, remote access to work computers, and a cloud-based IP phone system. There are no fixed work hours as it occurs when it is most beneficial for clients and staff, offering profound work-life balance. Staff meetings feature firm-issued Nerf-guns for fun to voice “displeasure” with an unpopular point of view.
President’s Medal Winner
Tina Dion, QC of Tina Dion Law
This medal is personally awarded by the CBABC president to recognize the recipient’s significant contribution to the legal profession. Tina Dion is of Cree heritage, originally from Alberta and based in Tsawwassen today. She has practiced law for First Nations and Aboriginal clients since 1999 and is the current chair of CBABC’s Aboriginal Lawyers Forum. Tina is the Equality and Diversity representative on CBABC’s Executive Committee, a member of the Truth & Reconciliation Working Group, acts as Executive Liaison of the Business of Law Committee, and is also an elected member of Provincial Council for Westminster County.
“We’ve seen terrific nominees rise and be noticed because so many lawyers in BC serve the community well. We thank them and heartily congratulate the winners”, said Michael Welsh, CBABC President. “Their good work is inspiring and elevates the profession. We’re very pleased to shine a spotlight on it.”