Aaron Bains // Precedent Setter Awards 2020

Aaron Bains
Meet the corporate lawyer who works tirelessly to improve the profession

By Matthew Halliday

On Thursday May 28th, 2020

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Aaron Bains

Associate, 
Aird & Berlis LLP
Called to the bar in 2015

Aaron Bains has two careers. By day, the 30-year-old is an associate at Aird & Berlis LLP. The rest of the time — including mornings, nights and weekends — he is a crusader for those in need. “Giving back is a big part of my family’s ethos,” he says. “My sister passed away from cancer at 15 years old, so my family has always been involved in children’s charities.” Bains came to understand that he has an obligation to advance the public good.

Aaron BainsCase in point: his tireless work to improve the legal profession. He sits on the advisory board at JusticeNet, a not-for-profit that assists people who cannot afford a lawyer yet don’t qualify for legal aid. And he’s the president of the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, a platform he uses to tackle high-profile issues.

For instance, Bains has publicly criticized Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans public workers from wearing religious symbols — such as crucifixes, kippahs, hijabs or turbans — at work. And in 2018, he pushed back against Conservative MP Erin O’Toole, who had proposed introducing a motion in the House of Commons that would condemn extremist support for an independent Sikh state in northern India. Bains, who is Sikh himself, called every Conservative MP and party staffer he could find to explain that it’s harmful to suggest that Sikh extremism is a problem when there’s no data to support that claim. In his view, the motion would inflict damage on the Sikh community. “Motions like this link Sikhs to extremism for no reason,” says Bains. “The result is that innocent Sikhs get bullied, harassed and, in some terrible cases, assaulted or killed.” The motion was dropped.

Bains brings a similar intensity to his legal work. His practice focuses on corporate finance, lending transactions and M&A. “Aaron has an elusive elixir of book smarts, street smarts and an indomitable work ethic,” says Tony Gioia, a partner at Aird & Berlis. “We do not have an easy practice. A lot of west-coast and overseas work. We have to be available around the clock. Aaron is always there, poised, polished, impeccably smart.”


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


This story is from our Summer 2020 Issue.


Photography by Steph Martyniuk; set design by James Reiger; hair and makeup by Michelle Calleja