OBA honours two Windsor lawyers for access to justice work

By John Chunn

Law360 Canada (February 16, 2023, 12:09 PM EST) -- The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) announced that it is recognizing two Windsor women for the significant impacts they have made through their access to justice work.

According to an OBA press release, its members have always been willing to step up and do the work that needs to be done. With this in mind, the association has created special regional recognitions for lawyers who have done — and continue to do — critical work when it comes to access to justice in Ontario. The inaugural recipients in the Southwest Region are former Superior Court justice Mary Jo Nolan and professor Jasminka Kalajdzic.

“As a long-time member of the association, one of the things I’ve been most proud of is the unbelievable amount of pro bono work our members are doing, as well as the numerous other ways they have been contributing to improving access to justice,” OBA president Karen Perron said in the news release. “We know that this work is the cornerstone of a fair and just society. It ensures that individuals, regardless of their background, can access the legal system.”

Justice Nolan became a lawyer after working 15 years as a child welfare advocate, helping vulnerable clients access equitable justice. She was the first female case management master in Ontario, and the first female judge to be appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Essex County. Justice Nolan served on the provincial Civil Rules Committee, has taught at the University of Windsor, and, since retiring from the bench, has continued to help her community as a mediator and arbitrator.

Kalajdzic teaches at the University of Windsor and is the founding director of the Class Actions Clinic at Windsor Law. An author of two books and numerous legal articles, she is a sought-after lecturer and well-respected expert on class actions law, and her research into access to justice issues in Canada is considered some of the best.