2011 Precedent Setter Award Winner: Renée Maria Tremblay

Introducing Renée Maria Tremblay, a lawyer who stands out
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Renée Maria Tremblay
The Renaissance Woman

  • Acting Legal Officer, Chambers of the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Canada
  • Called to the bar in 2002
  • Sole Canadian contributor to the 9th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary
  • Advised on legal and policy matters for the World Bank
  • Completed fellowships at the Canadian embassies in Paris and Washington, D.C.
  • Advised on the sale of Enron’s parts (one of the largest public reorganizations in recent history)


When Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin created a new position for a legal officer in her chambers in 2001, she chose her former clerk, Renée Maria Tremblay, to fill the post. Tremblay, 37, is McLachlin’s right-hand woman, helping with legal research, speeches, strategy, liaising with other courts and even handling the media.

According to McLachlin, Tremblay isn’t just open to new challenges, “she actively seeks them out.” In the world of public law, surrounded by staunch tradition, Tremblay “brings an entrepreneurial energy to her work.”

Outside work, Tremblay pushes her body. She’s training for her fifth marathon in fewer than three years. And not just any marathon: “This one is supposed to take about 50 percent longer than normal,” she says. “It’s on the Great Wall of China.” One of only five Adventure Marathons in the world, it includes 5,164 stone steps and steep inclines at high altitudes.

But this endurance test doesn’t even register on Tremblay’s list of achievements. To her, running marathons is a hobby, like her yoga instructing or sommelier certification. That stuff’s just for fun.

Tremblay’s been tackling one challenge after another for so long, the only thing that feels foreign to her is stressing about it. “My father was in the Air Force,” she explains. “For me, it was always about picking up and moving on and doing something different. I’m used to taking on something new all the time, and when I don’t I actually get restless.”