CBABC recognizes outstanding B.C. lawyers

  • May 07, 2024

The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch honoured three distinguished lawyers on Saturday with our esteemed annual CBABC Branch Awards. 

"All of these outstanding individuals have demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing equality and access to justice for all. These three impressive lawyers come from different experiences and areas of practice but are united in their selflessness and community activism,” remarked Scott Morishita, CBABC President.

HARRY RANKIN, QC PRO BONO AWARD

This award recognizes a CBABC member for their pro bono service and was established in memory of Harry Rankin, QC’s immense support of access to justice.

Monique Pongracic-Speier, KC (Ethos Law Group LLP) has worked with West Coast LEAF and the BC Civil Liberties Association on a number of high-profile cases. Most recently, she served as lead counsel in a constitutional challenge brought against the Province of BC and Legal Aid BC on behalf of women survivors of family violence. The resolution of this case resulted in a $29-million-dollar investment in family law legal aid. She also successfully worked to secure a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2011 allowing North America’s first legal supervised injection site to operate indefinitely, which continues to save lives. Read Monique's acceptance speech.

EQUALITY & DIVERSITY AWARD

This award celebrates CBABC members who have succeeded in advancing equality in the legal profession or generally in British Columbia. 

Anita Atwal (Anita Atwal Law) was instrumental in the creation of the South Asian Legal Clinic in BC, which provides pro bono culturally sensitive support for those in the South Asian community facing access to justice issues. As past president and current director of the South Asian Bar Association of BC she has forged a path for South Asian women to excel in the legal profession. Among all of this, she somehow finds the time to mentor aspiring lawyers at the Access Pro Bono Everyone Legal Clinic, act as a special advisor in Equity & Inclusion at Simon Fraser University. Read Anita's acceptance speech.

2024 PRESIDENT’S MEDAL

The President’s Medal recognizes an individual for their significant contribution to the profession during the CBABC President's term.

Connor Bildfell (McCarthy T├ętrault) is Chair of CBABC’s Access to Justice Committee where he works passionately to improve access to justice for everyone, regardless of income. He played a key role in the CBABC submission: Who’s Getting Left Behind? The Impact of the Ongoing Digital Transformation of the Court System on Access to Justice in British Columbia. He oversaw CBABC’s first-ever Tech Drive – over 160 used electronics were distributed to remote and Indigenous communities throughout B.C. In his own civil litigation practice, Connor has taken on pro bono cases, representing marginalized organizations like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Ontario Native Women’s Association.

The 2024 CBABC Branch Awards were presented on Saturday, May 4 at the CBABC Provincial Council meeting.

To arrange an interview, contact: 
Melissa Shaw | 604.687.5293 | media@cbabc.org