Rick Dearden, a partner in the Ottawa office of Gowling WLG, is the 2020 recipient of the John P. Nelligan Award for Excellence in Advocacy from The Advocates' Society.
This annual award is presented to a lawyer in the Ottawa area who exemplifies excellence in advocacy and who has clearly demonstrated a distinction as counsel and contributed significantly to the legal profession and well-being of the community at large.
Dearden is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He litigates primarily in the practice areas of defamation law, freedom of the press, access to information, international trade law, customs, and investor-state arbitrations.
Dearden has acted as counsel in leading defamation trials and appeals, Canadian Charter of Rights freedom of the press cases, and access to information cases. He acted as counsel for the Ottawa Citizen before the Supreme Court of Canada in the seminal cases of Cusson v. Quan and Grant v. Torstar that created the new "public interest responsible communication" defence to libel actions in Canada.
His accomplishments are reflected in many top legal ranking publications, including Chambers Global, Legal 500 Canada, Lexpert (Defamation and Media Litigation), Best Lawyers in Canada, and the Who's Who Legal: Trade and Customs.
The John P. Nelligan Award for Excellence in Advocacy was established in 2016 to celebrate and acknowledge the outstanding contributions of John P. Nelligan, Q.C., LSM, a long-time member and the first Ottawa president of The Advocates' Society. Throughout his career, John Nelligan exemplified excellence and an unwavering commitment to advocacy. He held numerous leadership positions in the legal community, and for decades was a committed mentor and teacher of advocacy.
"It is a true honour to have my name included with the distinguished past recipients of this award," said Dearden. "John is a legend and an icon. I am so privileged to receive an advocacy award named after John Nelligan."
The John P. Nelligan Award will be presented to Dearden on May 14 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.
The Advocates' Society was established in 1963 to ensure the presence of a courageous and independent bar, and the maintenance of the role of the advocate in the administration of justice.