Emaily Lam

2017 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Emily Lam

Meet the lawyer whose empathy helps her win cases
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Emaily Lam

Emily Lam

Partner, Greenwood Lam LLP
Called to the bar in 2008

Emily Lam was facing one of the hardest cases of her career. It was 2014, and a young man had been charged with sexual assault. He had lost his job and become a pariah in his community. But Lam believed he was innocent. At the time, she was working as a defence lawyer at Rosen Naster LLP. It took Lam three years of tireless work to bring the case before the Ontario Superior Court. But it paid off: her client was acquitted and got his life back.

Emily LamOne of her greatest assets as a defence lawyer is the ability to empathize with her clients. “There were periods in my life when even I could have ended up with a criminal record,” reflects the 37-year-old, a daughter of Hong Kong immigrants, who went to school in Tuxedo Court, a low-income area in Scarborough. Though she never turned to crime, others in her neighbourhood did out of desperation. To Lam, the fact that she never fell in with the wrong crowd is simply a matter of luck.

Last year, Lam teamed up with her close friend, criminal lawyer Jessyca Greenwood, to launch Greenwood Lam LLP. “Emily gives so much thought to every case,” says Greenwood. “She’s skilled at dealing with the Crown. If there’s common ground, she’ll find it.”

Lam is always busy. She recently had a second child with her husband, Christian Vernon, an in-house lawyer with the grocery chain Metro, and still kept in touch with Greenwood about certain cases while on mat leave. She also volunteers at the Massey Centre for Women and mentors lawyers. “Young women in this profession, especially racialized women, generally don’t feel they have support from women. I want to be a guiding pillar.”

Don’t forget to read about our other amazing winners.

Photography by Lorne Bridgman, hair and makeup by Shawna Lee, shot on location at the Aga Khan Museum.