Three Law Alumni Among Canadian Lawyer's Top 25 Legal Influencers

Esi Codjoe, Frank Walwyn, and Thomas Cromwell
Esi Codjoe, Frank Walwyn, and Thomas Cromwell.

The vice chairwoman of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, an advocate for minorities in law, and a former Supreme Court of Canada justice are the three Queen’s Law alumni to make the Canadian Lawyer magazine’s list of Canada’s top 25 legal influencers.

The magazine originally received several hundred nominees before a panel reduced the list to 177 candidates. More than 10,000 readers voted in a poll to select the top 25.

The three alumni to make the legal influencers list are:

Esi Codjoe, Law’03: Vice chairwoman, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Described by one voter as “an outstanding lawyer, mentor and tribunal member that is having a significant and positive impact on human rights in Canada,” Ms. Codjoe has an impressive track record of adjudication and involvement with the human rights community. Her decisions include a case in which a landlord harassed an elderly tenant, access to health records in O’Brien v. Toronto Transit Commission, and a dismissed claim on being fired due to being homosexual in Szego v. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Her work includes the promotion of racialized and black lawyers, as well as a history of mentorship for women of colour and being a key force behind the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.

Frank Walwyn, Law’93: Partner, WeirFoulds

The first black lawyer – and partner – at WeirFoulds, was described by one voter as “a true and conscientious advocate who devotes an enormous amount of time to assist disenfranchised persons and racialized lawyers.” Mr. Walwyn’s work with WeirFoulds involves taking on challenging cases from both Canada and the Caribbean. Mr. Walwyn also devotes considerable time advocating for an increase in the number of minorities in law – a commitment he has backed as one of the key contributors to the Queen’s Law Robert Sutherland Fellowship in Law. Mr. Walwyn is also a key member of the Queen’s Law Dean’s Council, and has sat on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee of the Ontario Court of Justice since 2009.

The Honorable Thomas Cromwell, Artsci’73, Law’76, LLD’10: Senior counsel, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

From the Supreme Court to tireless advocacy for access to justice, Justice Cromwell’s voice is being heard across Canada at conferences, on podcasts and lectures at schools like Queen’s Law. “Tom Cromwell excels at everything he does. Having had an outstanding career as an academic and jurist, he is now leading efforts meaningfully to reform access to justice in Canada. Access to justice is something that a lot of lawyers like to talk about, but Tom is trying assiduously to make it happen,” said one voter in the poll. A frequent visitor to Queen’s Law, Justice Cromwell generously gives his time to the school and students with extended visits. The school has previously honoured him with an award in his name for outstanding service to the public as a government lawyer, public service lawyer or member of the judiciary. 

Canadian Lawyer says a top 25 designation is “a level of respect, the ability to influence public opinion and to help shape the laws of this country and others; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; involvement and impact within the justice community; and social and political influence and involvement.”

This article originally appeared on the Queen’s Law website.