Megan Savard

2019 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Megan Savard

Meet the defence lawyer who is a regular at the highest courts in the land
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Megan Savard

Megan Savard

Partner, Addario Law Group LLP
Called to the bar in 2010

In the criminal-justice system, even the most unpopular of defendants must have someone standing at their side. Megan Savard is happy — eager, even — to fill that role. Savard, a partner at Addario Law Group LLP, puts no limits on who she’ll defend. It’s not her job to like or dislike her clients; it’s to place a check on state power. “My role in the system is to prevent someone from being convicted, whether it’s because they’re factually innocent or because the state hasn’t put together enough evidence to prove their guilt,” says Savard. “If I do that, I see myself as doing a good thing.”

Savard is not your typical 33-year-old defence lawyer. Her case history includes complex appellate work that affects the very fabric of the entire justice system. In 2017, for instance, Savard represented the Criminal Lawyers’ Association at the Supreme Court of Canada in a case that, ultimately, reaffirmed a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. This case has had a real-world impact. When delays clog the justice system, defendants often languish in prison for years as they await trial.

Savard is also an outspoken advocate for gender diversity in the criminal bar. “If I can’t take a case — or if I’m asked for a referral — I typically suggest a female lawyer who is also, in my mind, the best person for the job,” she says. “It’s amazing how often the right person for a job is a woman that no one has thought about. This fact is constantly in my mind.”

As a criminal-defence lawyer with a busy family life — her husband, Phil Savard, is the general counsel for Acerus Pharma and her son is four years old — she isn’t looking for balance.

When she needs time to herself, she runs intervals on the staircase that overpasses the train tracks near her west-end home. And when she’s spent, she watches the sunrise. “That gets me to the place that I need to be,” she says. “I don’t believe in work-life balance in the traditional sense.”

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

This story is from our Summer 2019 Issue.

Photography by Luis Mora, hair and makeup by Michelle Calleja.