2014 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Andrea Gonsalves

Meet the lawyer who's represented Canadians tortured in Syria and reads her kids Supreme Court rulings before bed

Andrea Gonsalves
























Andrea Gonsalves

Partner, Stockwoods LLP Barristers
Called to the bar in 2006

Andrea Gonsalves walks into a Starbucks in midtown Toronto with her four-week-old daughter snuggled against her chest. As she did with her now-three-year-old son, she’s taking nearly a year of maternity leave.

She misses work intensely — she used to read her son Supreme Court rulings in lieu of Dr. Seuss, and sent work-related emails within hours of delivering her daughter — but she is determined to show younger lawyers at Stockwoods that it’s possible to be a successful litigator and spend time at home, too. “I’m usually out of the office at 5 p.m. to have dinner with my family,” says Gonsalves, whose husband works for an IT company from home. “I want other lawyers to know that if they choose to do that, it’s okay.”

When Gonsalves joined Stockwoods in 2007 — after clerking at both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada — she was part of the team representing the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, who claimed they had a right to 35 percent of net profits generated by Casino Rama. “My role was primarily pulling up documents and scrolling to the right place,” says Gonsalves, but it didn’t sting any less when they lost. “You feel really shitty for the first few days, but you have to learn to bounce back.”

Gonsalves doesn’t shy away from tough cases. She was on the team that received the 2012 National Public Health Hero Award for successfully intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada after the federal government chose not to renew a legal exemption that would allow employees at the Insite safe injection facility in Vancouver to legally handle narcotics. Now, she’s acting for three Canadians seeking compensation from the federal government for torture they suffered in Syria.

She’s drawn to tough cases where the stakes are high. “I’d really like to be on my feet at the Supreme Court,” she says. But that will have to wait. A tiny cry comes from the blanket on Gonsalves’s lap. It’s time to head home.

Precedent Setter Award Winners

Don’t forget to read about our other spectacular winnersand have a look at our behind-the-scenes pics from the cover shoot.





Photography by Anya Chibis; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Lightform, Toronto