Legal clinic director is 2022 recipient of Guthrie Award by Law Foundation of Ontario

By John Chunn

Law360 Canada (October 5, 2022, 9:53 AM EDT) -- The Law Foundation of Ontario announced that Roberto (Robert) Lattanzio is the 2022 recipient of the Guthrie Award, the foundation’s signature award to recognize exceptional access to justice champions.

According to the foundation’s press release, Lattanzio is the executive director of ARCH Disability Law Centre, a specialty legal clinic that defends and advances the equality rights, entitlements, fundamental freedoms and inclusion of persons with disabilities in Ontario. He started at ARCH as an articling student in 2003, then moved to staff lawyer, and finally, since 2015, has been serving as executive director.

“Robert has dedicated his legal career to advancing the full equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities,” said Linda Rothstein, the foundation’s board chair, in the news release. “He’s been at the forefront of the most substantial innovative test case litigation, law reform, legal professional development and public legal education initiatives that are improving access to justice for people with disabilities in Ontario.”

“Robert is recognized as a committed and passionate leader in the disability rights and disability justice communities, the legal clinic community, and the broader human rights community in Ontario and across Canada,” said Kerri Joffe, Mariam Shanouda and Doreen Way of ARCH Disability Law Centre who nominated Lattanzio for the Guthrie Award. “Robert cares deeply about each of his clients. In countless cases, he has gone above and beyond what is ordinarily expected of a lawyer to defend his clients’ rights to equal access to services and resources.”

He has acted as legal counsel in test case litigation at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and he has made law reform submissions to various levels of government, committees and administrative bodies. He is credited with championing some of the most important pieces of disability-rights legislation in Ontario and Canada. His law reform work advances the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and focuses on a broad range of law and policy including the Education Act, Medical Assistance in Dying and the Accessible Canada Act.