Precedent Setter Awards 2015: Paul Saguil

Paul Jonathan Saguil

Counsel, TD Bank Financial Group
Called to the bar in 2008
Law school: Osgoode Hall

In late 2013, Paul Saguil started to feel bored. It had been a year since the young litigator left Stockwoods LLP to go in-house at TD Bank, where he began to instruct outside counsel on a range of lawsuits. But he wanted something more cutting-edge. And when he took that concern to management, they had the perfect job in mind.

The bank’s top brass assigned Saguil to what’s known at TD as “the hub,” an elite four-lawyer team that serves as a kind of internal police force.

Paul SaguilSitting in the spotless TD lunchroom, the 33-year-old sums up his role. Basically, if the bank suspects that one of its employees is acting up — by, say, manipulating financial statements or selling confidential data to criminals — it’s his job to find out if the allegations are true. “We’re not carpet sweepers,” says Saguil. “We want to have a disciplined fact-finding exercise, so that when we do have to defend ourselves we know what the story is.”

When asked if it can be awkward to play bad cop with colleagues, Saguil flashes a broad smile, as if to say, You have no idea.

“They don’t always see it as playing on their team,” he explains. “My personal challenge is to turn off the litigator, cross-examiner mode.”

Outside the office, Saguil is busy making the profession more inclusive. Today, he offers pro bono counsel to Out on Bay Street, mentors law students and co-chairs a committee on diversity at the Law Society. “We don’t always celebrate these behind-the-scenes efforts,” says Douglas Judson, a third-year law student at Osgoode Hall, who works with Saguil at Out on Bay Street. “They can seem brutally administrative, but they’re really important.”

All told, Saguil has to fight to spend time with his partner of six years, Calvin Cheng, let alone get some rest. But he refuses to complain: “I can put up with the sleepless nights because I’m working on a larger project — making the profession a better place for lawyers with diverse backgrounds.”

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



Photography by Jaime Hogge; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Spin Toronto

Precedent Setter Awards 2014: Paul-Erik Veel

Paul-Erik Veel




















Paul-Erik Veel

Associate, Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP

Called to the bar in 2010

Paul-Erik Veel is a nerd and proud of it. He loved law school, where he spent day after day in the library immersed in legal theory. In the end, his hard work paid off: he graduated with the gold medal from the University of Toronto and went on to clerk for Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court.

After that, Veel, also known as Dash 
— a nickname bestowed on him during his undergrad by a pal on the McGill debate team — looked for a job that would allow him to continue his legal education outside the classroom. At Lenczner Slaght, one of Toronto’s top litigation boutiques, he found one: Veel works on cases across a range 
of practice areas, each one offering a new intellectual challenge. “If a case is black and white, it’s going to settle quickly,”
 he says. “So litigators spend most of their time in the grey area where both sides have a reasonable argument. Litigation affords 
a lot of space to think through interesting questions.”

In just four years since being called to the bar, he’s already served as counsel
 on homicides and a competition law trial. He also spearheaded a pro bono case that led to charges against two Toronto city councillors for violating elections law. But Veel’s favourite case is still his first: a successful challenge to exclude unconstitutionally obtained evidence from a perjury trial. A scholar at heart, he enjoyed the case because it reminded him of a “law school exam problem.”

These days, Veel gets to think up exam questions of his own: he’s an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of law. And his talent for teaching extends to his work at Lenczner Slaght, where he mentors articling students. “Paul-Erik’s experience in court has made him a role model. His mentoring is thoughtful, constructive and effective,” says Peter Griffin, the managing partner of the firm. Plus, it’s not hard to convince Veel to make time for students. “I like helping people find answers to tough questions.”

Precedent Setter Award Winners

Don’t forget to read about our other spectacular winnersand have a look at our behind-the-scenes pics from the cover shoot.





Photography by Anya Chibis; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Lightform, Toronto

Precedent Setter Awards 2014: Alexi Wood

Alexi Wood





















Alexi Wood

Associate, Davis LLP
Called to the bar in 2007

For Alexi Wood, advocating for social justice wasn’t so much a calling as a compulsion. “It’s something that’s just ingrained in my fabric,” she says.

Consider her current case. Almost three years ago, Clare Endicott filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, saying the police violated her privacy when they misled her neighbour to believe she was about to commit suicide. Endicott’s complaint was dismissed, so she asked the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to appeal. The CCLA asked Wood to seek a judicial review, pro bono, as lead counsel. But before the case was heard, something strange happened: the director refused to disclose any information — emails, meeting notes — related to the decision.

So, Wood had to convince the court she had a right to that information. She won. And then won again at the Ontario Court of Appeal, triggering a decision that will have sweeping implications. “On the surface, it seems like a dry, picky case of administrative law,” says Wood. “But at its core, this case is about the public interest and accountability of our regulatory bodies.”

Wood has a hard time not lending her support to a worthy cause. While earning her undergrad (a BA in history), she volunteered with Planned Parenthood. In law school at the University of Cincinnati, she interned
 at the United Nations’ High Commission
 for Human Rights. She’s also on the board of directors for the Starfish Greenhearts Foundation, a non-profit that helps children impacted by AIDS in South Africa.

Now an associate at Davis, Wood remains passionate about social justice, but is equally passionate about litigation. “I love the law and love what I do,” she says. Her contributions to the profession are many, including teaching, mentoring and judging moot courts.
And if her arsenal of experience weren’t intimidating enough, consider the leisure-time activity she recently took up with
her partner: fencing. “It’s a great cardio workout,” she says. “Plus, it’s just cool to have swords in your house.”

Precedent Setter Award Winners

Don’t forget to read about our other spectacular winnersand have a look at our behind-the-scenes pics from the cover shoot.





Photography by Anya Chibis; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Lightform, Toronto