Call to the Bar ceremony: Doctor of Laws to history-making judge

TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Justice Russell G. Juriansz, the first person of South Asian  origin appointed to Ontario's Superior Court (1998) and the first racialized judge appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario (2004) was today bestowed the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa at the Law Society's Call to the Bar ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall.

Born in India, Justice Juriansz immigrated to Canada with his family in 1955. He was called to the Bar in 1974 and went on to have a notable 24-year career as a human rights and constitutional law lawyer before his judicial appointment. As a lawyer, he appeared as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada on some of the country's seminal human rights cases, including discrimination (Bhinder v. CNR and O'Malley v. Simpsons-Sears), sexual harassment (Robichaud v. Canada (Treasury Board), and pay equity (SEPQA v. Canada (Human Rights Commission).

Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor awarded the honorary LLD to Justice Juriansz, who then delivered the keynote address to the soon-to-be lawyers, members of the audience and distinguished guests.

"My call to the Bar ceremony was 41 years ago. My assignment today is to draw on that 41 years of experience and offer you some advice as you set out on your 41 years or more. My message to you say can be expressed in two words: Embrace Change," said Justice Juriansz. "Don't be satisfied with just practicing law. I urge you to lead in searching for ways to improve the law and legal process and then work to change things."

The Law Society awards honorary doctorates to distinguished people in recognition of outstanding achievements in the legal profession, the rule of law or the cause of justice.

In her remarks to the newly called lawyers, Treasurer Minor, said, "It is a contemporary paradox that as we continue to graduate and license large numbers of lawyers, we also face a growing and very pressing problem of access to justice for people. Use your energy, imagination and skills to improve access. Help shift the paradox. Do some pro bono work, whether it's through the area in which you will practice, or developing new ways of delivering legal services. We need your innovation and creativity. We are counting on you."

The Law Society called 230 new lawyers to the Bar of Ontario at today's ceremony.

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Biography — The Honourable Justice Russell G. Juriansz

The Honourable Justice Russell G. Juriansz was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1955.

He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree then went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School, graduating with his LLB in 1972. After articling at Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Justice Juriansz was called to the Ontario Bar in 1974.

In 1998, Justice Juriansz became the first person of South Asian origin appointed to the Superior Court of Ontario. Then in 2004, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario becoming the first racialized judge of that court.

Prior to his 1998 appointment, Justice Juriansz was a lawyer for 24 years, both in government and in private practice. He served as legal counsel, general counsel and then director of legal services of the then newly established Canadian Human Rights Commission (1978-87). He left the Commission at the end of 1986 and returned to Blakes as an associate and then a partner (1987-94). He went on to open his own practice and was a sole practitioner for four years until his judicial appointment (1994-98).

Justice Juriansz practised principally in the area of human rights and constitutional law. He has appeared as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada on some of the country's seminal human rights cases, including discrimination (Bhinder v. CNR and O'Malley v. Simpsons-Sears), sexual harassment (Robichaud v. Canada (Treasury Board), and pay equity (SEPQA v. Canada (Human Rights Commission).

Justice Juriansz taught human rights law and constitutional law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law (1984-86) and was an instructor on administrative law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the Law Society's Bar Admission Course (1982-86).

Throughout his career in private practice, Justice Juriansz was a frequent writer, editor and speaker on issues of equality and discrimination.

Justice Juriansz resides in Toronto with his wife Kaye Joachim. His two daughters attend Queen's University.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

Image with caption: "Justice Russell G. Juriansz (centre) was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa by Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor (left) at the Sept. 25th Call to the Bar ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall. Justice Juriansz is pictured here after receiving the ceremonial LLD hood from Law Society Bencher Marion Boyd (right). (CNW Group/The Law Society of Upper Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150925_C7306_PHOTO_EN_507214.jpg

Image with caption: "The Hon. Russell G. Juriansz, judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (second from left), holds the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa, presented to him by The Law Society of Upper Canada at its Sept. 25th Call to the Bar ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall. Justice Juriansz is congratulated by (l-r) Law Society CEO Robert Lapper, Chief Justice George Strathy and Law Society Treasurer Janet E. Minor. (CNW Group/The Law Society of Upper Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150925_C7306_PHOTO_EN_507223.jpg

For further information: Media contact: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor, Media Relations, at 416-947-7605 or stonkin@lsuc.on.ca

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