Justice George Strathy wins the Toronto Lawyers Association 2016 Award of Distinction // The Circuit

The province’s top judge calls out, once again, the delay-ridden justice system

By Daniel Fish

On Friday March 4th, 2016


What: The 16th Annual TLA Awards Reception
Where: The Ritz-Carlton
When: March 3, 2016

Is it possible that over the past century the justice system has gotten worse?

Well, at least in some ways, one person thinks so.

And his opinion carries some weight. When George Strathy, the Chief Justice of Ontario, accepted the Toronto Lawyers Association 2016 Award of Distinction last night, he used the occasion to point out the sorry state of the courts.

But he did so, curiously, by invoking a figure from a bygone era: Britton Bath Osler, a Toronto lawyer of the 19th century.

“He was one of the great lawyers of his day, the Brian Greenspan of the 1880s,” he said. “I think about him coming back to Toronto in 2016. I can imagine him being amazed by our technology, the cars on the road, the planes in the air, the pace of life — then he’d come into Osgoode Hall and he’d feel like nothing had changed, with lawyers still pulling dusty law books off the table.”

As the laughter in the audience died down (more than 100 lawyers showed up to the event, held at the Ritz-Carlton) Strathy continued with his thought experiment.

“In fact, he’d probably wonder why things were so darn slow, why trials that took him two days to complete were now taking two months or longer.”

It was a familiar complaint from a familiar source. Indeed, this was not the first time Strathy, who has become something of a flag-bearer for the movement to improve the justice system, has called for simpler courtroom procedures and more modern facilities.

“We have a lot to do in terms of modernization,” he said. “I feel, quite frankly, that the really important part of my legal career is ahead of me.”

Also at the event, Mark Lichty, an insurance law expert at Blaney McMurtry LLP, received the 2016 Honsberger Award for his long-time commitment to mentorship.

To learn more about the Toronto Lawyers Association, visit the TLA’s website.

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