Dina Awad grew up in Lebanon during a deadly civil war. In the early 1990s, her family fled to Canada. At eight years old, she had to learn a new language and adapt to a foreign culture. “That experience formed my worldview and my approach to making the world a more equal place,” says Awad. Now a 37-year-old partner at Dentons Canada LLP, she recently launched a program that pairs child refugees with colleagues at the firm who have been trained to provide pro bono guidance as they navigate the legal system.
Partner, Dentons Canada LLP
Year of Call: 2012
Law School: McGill University
Her quest for equality, though, extends well beyond helping refugees. From January 2019 to January 2021, she chaired the Roundtable of Diversity Associations, a 21-member umbrella organization that advocates for a more diverse, inclusive profession. Under her leadership, the group expanded its membership and strengthened its relationship with the Law Society of Ontario to ensure that equity remained top of mind. “I was part of decision- making conversations that helped bring others to the table,” she says. “Representation is a huge first step.”
Today, Awad sits on the Ontario Bar Association’s policy and public affairs committee, an influential arm within the organization. The group has a wide-ranging mandate, but one of its key priorities is to help OBA members get more involved in politics and public service. Awad is once again in a position to provide a platform to underrepresented voices.
This advocacy falls on top of her legal work, an equal split between commercial litigation and regulatory law, primarily in the environmental and health spaces. Awad is currently on maternity leave — she and her husband, national karate champion Chris de Sousa Costa, had their first child in April — and her talents are dearly missed at work. According to Michael Schafler, a partner and board member at Dentons Canada, Awad is a consummate problem solver. “She won’t come to you and say, ‘Here’s the law, here’s the problem,’ but rather, ‘Here’s the law, here’s the problem and here are my recommended courses of action,’” he says. Schafler can count on her to handle the toughest legal dilemmas. “For her, it’s like there are 25 hours in the day. She just gets things done.”