SABA Toronto is pleased to announce the winners of its 2015 Annual Awards.

Diversity Award

Kenneth Fredeen
Kenneth J. Fredeen is General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Deloitte LLP. Mr. Fredeen was one of the founding members of Legal Leaders for Diversity, was a founding member of and then chaired, Deloitte’s Inclusion Council and has been the Executive Sponsor of both the Deloitte LGBT and Persons with Disabilities Peoples’ Networks. In 2012 he was appointed by the Federal Government as Chair of a Panel to report on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and was awarded the Queens Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his community service. The following year, he was recognized by Canadian Lawyer magazine as being one of Canada’ top 25 most influential lawyers.


Legal Excellence Awards

Bindu Dhaliwal
strangemorephoto_mg_4782Diversity in all settings is important to allow for a wide range of ideas, perspectives and outcomes. This is even more important in the legal profession, where diversity of thought can have a direct impact on how people access and are impacted by the justice system.”

Bindu Dhaliwal is Associate General Counsel & Director, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) for BMO. Prior to this role Bindu supported the Wealth Management lines of business. Bindu was also the founding chair of the Legal & Compliance Diversity Council. Bindu is a frequent speaker on sustainability trends in the financial services sector, social finance and diversity in the legal profession. Prior to joining BMO, Bindu was an associate at Gowlings LLP and clerked at the Ontario Court of Appeal. She has a B.Comm from the University of Toronto, a LLB from Queen’s University and recently completed a graduate program in Social Innovation at the University of Waterloo.


Hussein A. Hamdani

mhp_6783“Because it is 2015! The key to understanding the positive influence of diversity to the legal profession is the concept of informational and experiential diversity and that it makes good business sense. By all statistical standards, Canada is becoming more ethnically, religiously and racially diverse. It flows from this that our clientele will come from diverse backgrounds and may have different perspectives – on how to negotiate a settlement, handle a file matter, understanding the sensitivities of the other party, etc. Prudent firms will understand this demographic change in the marketplace. Such firms will appreciate that their fellow colleagues should reflect this demographic change or potentially lose out on new business.

Hussein A. Hamdani was born in Kampala, Uganda on October 2, 1972.  He and his family came to Canada as refugees, and settled in the Niagara Region. Today, Hussein is a valued and respected partner of a Hamilton/Burlington-based firm, SimpsonWigle LAW LLP. He is engaged in general corporate/commercial practice that includes commercial and residential real estate law. Hussein has received a number of accolades and awards for his pro bono and volunteer work including in October 2015, Urbanicity Magazine’s 30 Most Influential People in the City of Hamilton. Hussein is the only lawyer in private practice to be named by the magazine as a change agent.


Isfahan Merali
isfahan-merali“The need to ensure our legal profession reflects and remains relevant to the public we serve (both increasingly diverse in Ontario, as the statistics tell us) is critical. If diverse groups do not see their communities represented amongst our profession, serious issues of confidence, fairness and trust in our administration of justice arise. Moreover, it is imperative that the legal profession includes the voices and perspectives from diverse communities. This diversity of experiences and perspectives fosters a more informed, responsive and inclusive legal profession, as well as a profession in which critical analysis and approaches are advanced.”

Isfahan Merali is a graduate and former Human Rights Fellow of U of T’s Faculty of Law. She was Counsel to the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2012. She has served as Acting Director of U of T’s International Human Rights Programme. Currently, she is Tribunal Counsel to the Consent & Capacity Board, practicing administrative and mental health law. In 2015, Isfahan was elected as a Bencher of The Law Society of Upper Canada and appointed as Bencher Adjudicator to the Law Society Tribunal. She is the first female South Asian Bencher in the Law Society’s history.