2012 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Ranjan Agarwal

Introducing Ranjan Agarwal, a lawyer who stands out
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Ranjan Agarwal
The Advocate

  • Partner, Litigation, at Bennett Jones LLP
  • Called to the bar in 2004
  • Five-time counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Worked on cases at Ontario, Manitoba and federal courts of appeal
  • Completed an LL.M. in constitutional law from Osgoode Hall in 2011
  • Published in five scholarly journals

When Ranjan Agarwal stands in court to argue an appeal, he speaks with passion, no matter what the issue. He worked on the Bedford prostitution challenge, which changed the legal status of bawdy houses in Ontario, and intervened in an appeal over a woman’s right to wear a niqab while testifying in a criminal sexual assault case.

The youthful-looking Agarwal — dressed in a simple suit accented with a flash of stripy socks — works on these high-profile cases pro bono, and also puts in time on what he refers to as “non– prima donna cases.” For instance, he once wrote a letter that helped a new immigrant who had been blinded in one eye get the insurance coverage to which he was entitled.

“Pro bono has brought me experience at the highest level, but also allowed me to make a difference in low-profile cases,” explains the self-declared political junkie who devours the daily news.

Agarwal has vowed that his career will never get in the way of his personal life. By making it a priority to get home to spend time with wife Sunita and two-year-old daughter Asha, he hopes he is setting an example to others in his firm to do the same.

The litigator has also influenced his juniors by developing Bennett Jones’s pro bono practice. He helps associates secure lead counsel briefs and then mentors them in their work. “If you can do it and it doesn’t take a lot of work on your end, you should try,” says Agarwal. “Because what we can do in the space of a half hour can mean a lot to someone.”