2018 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Mariam Moktar

Meet the litigator who has the natural gift of persuasion

Mariam Moktar

Associate, Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP
Called to the bar in 2013

Mariam Moktar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, during a time of peace and political stability. But in 1991, rebels toppled the state government, plunging the country into a civil war that still rages today. When her father, a police officer, died in the violence, the family fled to Egypt. In 1994, they arrived in Toronto.

Mariam Moktar

Moktar grew up in Weston, a neighbourhood with a large Somali population that was sometimes a target for police brutality. These childhood experiences informed her worldview. “I came to value political structures that are held to the highest levels of accountability,” says Moktar, now 31. “I’ve seen what life is like when that doesn’t exist.”

This sparked an early interest in law. Today, she’s an associate at Lenczner Slaght, one of Canada’s top litigation boutiques. Tom Curry, the managing partner, is impressed by how she excels on her feet. He remembers watching one motion that, at first, he thought was a long shot — until Moktar stood up to argue. “There was a noticeable shift,” he recalls. “Our side breathed easier. She has a natural gift of persuasion.”

Despite an all-consuming career and the demands of planning a wedding — this summer, she will marry her fiancé, Daren Wagar, a web coordinator and screenwriter — Moktar still finds time to volunteer. In 2015, she co-founded the Canadian Association of Somali Lawyers, which advocates for diversity in the profession and against police misconduct and racial profiling. “Growing up, I didn’t see Somali lawyers,” she says. “There wasn’t someone I could look up to and learn from.” She has become the role model she wishes she’d had.

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

This story is from our Summer 2018 Issue.

Photography by Kayla Rocca, hair and makeup by Michelle Calleja, shot on location at the Assembly Chef’s Hall