Gowling WLG partner Sandra Barton has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the premier legal associations in North America. The induction ceremony took place online at the College's 2020 Annual Meeting and 70th Anniversary Celebration.
The American College of Trial Lawyers is an invitation-only fellowship of lawyers from the United States Canada, and Puerto Rico "who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism and collegiality."
Based in Gowling WLG's Toronto office, Barton is routinely distinguished among the country's foremost litigators by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and The Best Lawyers in Canada. She focuses her practice on complex civil and commercial litigation matters, as well as class action defence and professional liability disputes.
"My induction into the College and my ability to practice law, are both significant privileges. Both come with a great responsibility to our profession and to society," said Barton. "I'm honoured and humbled that my career has been recognized in this way, and I look forward to championing the College's core principles in all my work – both inside and outside the courtroom."
A sought-after trial advocacy instructor, Barton trains lawyers across North America in an array of trial skills. She has served as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School for a number of years, is a lead instructor in its annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop for lawyers across Canada, and regularly trains lawyers for The Advocates' Society. She is also a regular visiting instructor at the University of Notre Dame.
"Highly astute and exceptionally talented, Sandra is widely regarded for her ability to achieve optimal outcomes for her clients in even the most difficult disputes," said Mark Ledwell, managing partner of Gowling WLG's Toronto office. "On behalf of the firm, I congratulate her on this important – and well-deserved – career milestone."
Outside of her practice, Barton serves on the board of directors Touching Tiny Lives, a foundation that supports children and families in rural Lesotho who are struggling to cope with the ravages of HIV/AIDS, and formerly served on the board of directors of The Advocates' Society and the Homes First Foundation.
Barton was recently appointed co-chair of Gowling WLG's newly formed Toronto Anti-Racism Action Committee. The Toronto Committee will be working with Gowling WLG's National Anti-Racism Action Committee, and other such committees across the firm, to pursue meaningful initiatives that will help combat racism, with a particular focus on anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism.
With more than 1,500 legal professionals in 19 cities across Canada, the U.K., Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Gowling WLG delivers comprehensive, strategic solutions that address a broad range of litigation matters – both in the courtroom and through negotiation and alternative dispute resolution – so that clients can achieve their desired results as quickly as possible.
Interview with Sandra Barton
Mark: In September my partner and friend, Sandra Barton, was inducted as a Fellow of The American College of Trial Lawyers. Sandra, congratulations.
Sandra: Thank you, Mark.
Mark: What does this recognition by the College mean to you, Sandra?
Sandra: I think first of all, Mark, it's incredibly humbling to be recognized by the premier institution for barristers in North America and be invited in as a colleague. But I think more than anything it's a huge responsibility because you really do have a creed to live up to. We always had it but I feel the added weight and burden of making sure that I live up to the College's own aspirations as a professional organization.
Mark: What are some of the challenges and barriers that you had to encounter on your way up that ladder to get into the College?
Sandra: I don't know that I had aspired or even thought that I would ever meet the threshold of the College's requirements. My aspirations as a litigator have always been to do good work. Do good work in court and outside of court. Recognitions like this, while they are an honour, in some ways you question being the one singled out when you know that you stand on the shoulders of others, and you work hand in hand as a team for all of the results that you get to, and I think that humility will allow you to continue to learn and appreciate people if you understand that it is not you alone who gets you there.
Mark: And as a prominent female black lawyer in Toronto, on Bay Street, is there added significance to your recognition this year because of what's going on in our society
Sandra: Being recognized, period, is an incredible honour but being recognized this year when the importance of being seen in leadership roles, being seen as part of a group of respected lawyers, in this case litigators, matters in a different way and so it's been a year where I've had to come a little bit out of the shadows myself and step up to be seen a bit more, if only to make that point. Not to just young black lawyers coming up but for doubters out there who don't think we exist. It's something that I am learning to become more comfortable with but that, in and of itself, is a process as well.
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