The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 2, April 2010

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Law Society of Alberta and CBA Alberta shine a light on 2010 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

The 2010 Distinguished Service Awards were presented to the following individuals at the 2010 Alberta Law Conference on January 29, 2010.

Gerald Gall, OC, Distinguished Service in Legal Scholarship

Professor Gerald Gall has served since 2001 as the President and Chair of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, an organization dedicated to advance the culture of peace and human rights through education and community organizations. For 24 years, he has played a prominent role with the Canadian human Rights Foundation.

His expertise with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is well known, and he is recognized as an expert on Constitutional Law. As a legal scholar, Professor Gall is co-editor of a newly published casebook on Constitutional Law, and is author of the treatise, The Canadian Legal System, now in its 6th edition and translated into many languages.

Professor Gerald Gall received his Bachelor of Arts (1969) from Queen’s University at Kingston, and his Bachelor of Laws (1972) from the University of Windsor. Two years later, he was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada. Professor Gall’s longstanding dedication to humanitarian causes was celebrated when he was appointed in 2001 as an Officer to the Order of Canada.

Virginia M. May, QC, Distinguished Service to the Profession

After three decades of trailblazing and career challenges, it’s not surprising that Virginia May is regarded by many young lawyers as an inspirational role model.

Her choice of law as the centerpiece of her life reflects her passion to help those in need, to make the world a fairer place, to oppose oppression. She graduated with her law degree (1980) from the University of Calgary, and articled with Burnett, Duckworth and Palmer LLP. In 1986, she became partner, one of the first women to do so at a major law firm. In 1995, she founded May Jensen Shawa Solomon LLP and is now senior partner of this very successful boutique firm.

Her service to the profession began in the 1990s by serving four terms as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta. She chaired five major Law Society committees and has served on more than a dozen others. She has presented at many seminars, served as a panelist and taught as a sessional lecturer.

Virginia May is known as one of Alberta’s leading litigators. She is a mentor and guide for many junior lawyers, and is held in high esteem as a role model and inspiration for many younger lawyers.

Solomon J. Rolingher, QC, Distinguished Service to the Community

As an inspired community builder who is dedicated to improving cultural relations, Solomon J. Rolingher’s service has significantly made a difference in the quality of life in Edmonton.

His visionary work in founding the Phoenix Multi-Faith Society for Harmony, unique in Canada, has become a role model for other cities seeking to bring harmony among disparate and conflicted communities. His greatest project is the River Valley Alliance, in which he has secured funding to create a metropolitan riverfront park in Edmonton.

He is recognized as an outstanding lawyer who works tirelessly and with passion for his clients, and who has contributed towards mentoring and education within the legal profession and the general community. He serves the University of Alberta as a university governor, senate member and with four faculties. One of these is the School of Law, where Solomon Rolingher is chair for the John V. Décor Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution, a position he has held for the past 16 years.

Solomon Rolingher graduated as a petroleum engineer (1965) from the Colorado School of Mines, and as Juris Doctoris (1968). He was called to the bar in 1969.

The late John A. Weir, QC, Distinguished Service in Pro Bono Legal Service

For more than five decades, the late John Weir, QC, expressed his commitment to pro bono service by taking on hundreds of pro bono cases, virtually all of them on a client-by-client basis. His clients found him to be an kind advocate who had a genuine affinity for the underdog. John Weir’s decades of selfless dedication to pro bono work ensured access to justice for many Albertans who may otherwise not have received it.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, John Weir earned his arts degree (1956) and law degree (1956) from the University of Alberta. He articled under Arnold Fraser Moir of Edmonton, was admitted to the bar in May 1958, and began practising with Newsom Brumlik. In 1990, he created the firm of Weir Bowen LLP, partnering with Maurice Brown. In the late 1980s, he was appointed by Canada’s Solicitor General to conduct the Gringras Inquiry.

The 2010 Distinguished Service Awards Recipients and Presenters on January 29, 2010 (top row, left to right): Professor Gerald Gall, OC; Gillian Marriott, QC, CBA Alberta President; Peter Michalyshyn, QC, Law Society of Alberta President; and Solomon J. Rolingher, QC. (Bottom row, left to right): Virginia M. May, QC and Margaret Weir Andreassen, niece accepting on behalf of the late John A. Weir, QC.

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