Your Vote Can Shape Ontario’s Future Legal Landscape – Part I

Law Society Picture stainglassThis April, Ontario’s lawyers will elect or re-elect Benchers to the Law Society of Upper Canada. Benchers are elected for a four year term and serve as the governing board of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  As representatives of Ontario’s legal community, these Benchers will shape the current and the future legal landscape.

The WLMP is not endorsing any Bencher Candidates. However, the issues facing Ontario’s and Canada’s legal community are complex and important.  We encourage all lawyers eligible to cast a vote for change an innovation.

The need to address inequities faced by female lawyers, LGBTQ lawyers and racialized lawyers is paramount. Additionally, the growth of ABS models, access to justice issues and reviewing the Law Society’s LPP Articling program and future are articling are just some of the challenges facing Ontario’s legal community.

The WLMP feels strongly that Ontario’s Benchers should reflect true diversity. The Law Society’s Justicia program has done a lot to identify and address the issue of the retention of women in the law, but there is a still lot to do. The recent Racialized Lawyers report also raises many issues that must be addressed.

To help inform you as you make your decisions and cast your ballot, we will be posting a list of the female Benchers.  Whether you were just Called to the Bar or have been a member of the Bar for many years, your vote matters. For information on casting your ballot, see the Law Society’s 2015 Bencher Election information.

2015 Female Bencher Profiles – Part I

The following list is listed in alphabetical order by surname. The information was gleaned from available posted online sources such as LinkedIn, The Law Times, the Ontario Bar Association , newspaper articles, individual Bencher web pages and the Law Society’s 2015 Bencher Candidate list.

Female Bencher Candidates East Region

Tanya L. Carlton (East) – Ms. Carlton was Called to the Bar in 2013. She practices Charity and Not-for-Profit law at Drache Aptowitzer LPP in Ottawa. One of the issues Ms. Carlton wishes to focus on is creating more programs to assist sole practitioners and small firms.

Lynne Cohen (East) – Ms. Cohen is an Ottawa based lawyer.

Adriana Doyle (East) – Ms. Doyle was recently appointed to the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in February 2015. She was Called to the Bar in 1984. Ms. Doyle is bilingual and practiced family law as a sole practitioner in Ottawa.

Susan Armatage Richer (East) – Ms. Richer is an Ottawa based lawyer.

Joanne St. Lewis (East) Ms. St. Lewis is a law professor at the University of Ottawa. Ms. St. Lewis served as a Bencher from 2001-2009.  As a Bencher, she served as Chair of the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee. Under her leadership, the Retention of Women in the Law was established. In addition to her work as a legal educator, Ms. St. Lewis also writes for She is also a Faculty Advisory to the WLMP’s uOttawa Chapter at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law.

Anne Vespry (East) – Ms. Vespry is a sole practitioner based in Ottawa. She was Called to the Bar in 2003. Ms. Vespry has taught substantive and procedural law classes in Algonquin Careers Academy’s Paralegal Program.

Female Bencher Candidates Central East and North East Region

Dianne G. Corbiere (Central East) – Ms. Corbiere was Called to the Bar in 1998. She is a partner at Nahwegahbow, Corbiere which acts exclusively for First Nation individuals and restricted to Aboriginal law.  In 2013, Ms. Corbiere was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession.

Carol Hartman (Northeast) – Ms. Hartman is a Sudbury based family law lawyer and Bencher.She was Called to the Bar in 1987. Ms. Hartman is a partner at  Miller, Maki Sudbury’s oldest law firm.

Susan T. McGrath (Northeast)Ms. McGrath is a lawyer based in the Iroquois Falls area. She was Called to the Bar in 1979.

Deanne L. Sgro (Central East) – Ms. Sgro is General Counsel with Affinity Global. She was Called to the Bar in 1998. If elected, Ms. Sgro would like to be engaged in reviewing the Law Society’s disciplinary process.

Female Bencher Candidates Central West Region

Kimberly Dunstine Graber (Central West) – Ms. Dustine Garber is a lawyer based in the Central West Region.

Virginia MacLean, Q.C. (Central West) – Ms. MacLean is a Bencher seeking re-election for the Central West Region. She is a sole practitioner and her legal practice focuses on municipal law.

Female Bencher Candidates South West Region

Teresa Donnelly (Southwest) – Ms. Donnelly is a Crown Attorney practicing in the Goderich, Ontario region. She was Called to the Bar in 1991.  One of her priorities if elected is promoting diversity and equality in the legal profession by continuing the work of the Law Society’s Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group.

Jacqueline A. Horvat (Southwest) – Ms. Horvat is a lawyer with Sutts, Strosberg LLP based in Windsor. She was Called to the Bar in 2002. Her practice is centered on corporate/commercial litigation. Ms. Horvat is seeking re-election as a Bencher.

Female Bencher Candidates Central South Region

Janis P. Criger (Central South) – Ms. Criger is a personal Injury lawyer based in Hamilton at Janis P. Criger. She was Called to the Bar in 1985. Since 1996, she has served as a Deputy Judge of the Hamilton Small Claims Court.

Note: Part II of the WLMP’s profile of female Law Society Bencher candidates will list all the female candidates running in Toronto.


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