Mtre Audrey Boctor


Mtre Audrey Boctor : A passion for law and human issues

By Mélanie Dugré, lawyer
(Article published on February 12, 2019)

Audrey Boctor grew up in Saskatchewan, first in Regina and later, Saskatoon, where she attended French immersion schools. She began her university studies by completing a bachelor’s degree (with honours) in French and Political Science, earning a gold medal for her outstanding results at Western University in Ontario. With a longstanding desire to live in a French-speaking environment, she seized the opportunity offered to her by McGill University by enrolling in the combined civil law/common law program in 2001. Her early days were tinged with uncertainty, but a professor by the name of David Lametti, now the federal Minister of Justice, convinced her that she belonged in the Faculty and that she had all the potential to become a top-notch jurist.

Ms. Boctor thus pursued her path, accumulating a wide variety of experiences during the summer, first in Toronto, then New York, before undertaking a four-month internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. After completing her courses for the Law Society of Ontario, in September 2005 she headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, where she was fortunate to clerk for the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. The rigour, efficiency and human qualities displayed by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin made a profound impression on Audrey, as did her tireless work to raise the Supreme Court’s profile on the international scene.

Following this unique experience, Audrey, who was also drawn to an academic career, completed a fellowship at Columbia University in New York, where she developed her teaching skills by giving the Legal Practice Workshop course. She enjoyed the experience, but was surprised to find that she wanted to contribute to the development of law in a more concrete way, in the field. She was therefore well-served when she joined the New York law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in the days before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. She found herself plunged into a maelstrom from which she gained both knowledge and experience in matters of regulation and American finance.

In 2010, one thing suddenly became clear: Audrey missed Canada and wanted to return to settle there. She knew that she wanted to practice litigation law in a boutique firm without a rigid hierarchical structure. She also knew the reputation of Irving Mitchell Kalichman and was well aware of a case of particular interest to her: the Kazemi case, involving proceedings against the Iranian government. Audrey thus joined the IMK team in September 2010, where she had the privilege of participating actively in the Kazemi case. Despite meeting defeat at the Supreme Court, IMK’s efforts and the quality of its pro bono work attested clearly to the firm’s values and made Audrey proud to be part of it. A member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, she herself has offered pro bono legal counsel in a number of cases, including Villeneuve v. Ville de Montréal, regarding the wearing of masks during protests and the obligation to submit an itinerary.

Slowly but surely, Audrey Boctor’s career has featured one high-profile challenge after another. She was involved in the Churchill Falls case and in a national class action against the Government of Canada in relation to the LGBT purge that occurred in the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the federal public service. A settlement was reached in 2017 and announced in conjunction with the official apology to the LGBTQ community delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Audrey underscored the spirit of collaboration that characterized relations between the different parties’ attorneys right from the start of the proceedings. The case is now at the claims stage, in which the process is intended to be non-adversarial for the victims. Her work as Lead Counsel for the group in Quebec earned Audrey, together with the Quebec class representative Martine Roy, the Phénicia Award 2018 from the Quebec LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

In December 2018, Audrey had the great honour of being appointed amicus curiae to assist the Supreme Court of Canada. Together with Professor Daniel Jutras, she was asked to present her vision and views on the standard of review applicable in Canadian administrative law. Audrey has also maintained her ties to the university community over the years, by teaching in the law faculties at McGill University and Université de Montréal.

Today, Ms. Broctor’s life is taken up with another major challenge that began in 2014: the hearing, before the Quebec Superior Court, of the application to quash several provisions of the Code Civil of Quebec that prohibit certain individuals from changing their name and gender designation while imposing the binary identification “M or F” on everyone.

Active involvement in professional and community associations is also a core value for Audrey. After sitting on various committees for several years, she is now President of the Quebec Division of the Canadian Bar Association, a position she will turn over to Mtre Pascale Pageau this June. The Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre, which serves a disadvantaged population, is particularly dear to her heart. Her former colleague and mentor, the late Colin Irving, paved the way by devoting his time and energy to this organization and founding a legal clinic there. Audrey is proud to note that the sustainability of the Tyndale St. Georges Legal Clinic is now assured through its association with the Mile End Legal Clinic and with IMK’s financial support in honour of Colin Irving.

Audrey recalls, with respect, admiration and recognition, the determining role that mentors such as David Lametti, Beverley McLachlin, Doug Mitchell and Peter Kalichman played in her professional career and the values they passed on to her. Ms. Boctor, a rising star with numerous legal accolades to her credit, considers that the time has come for her to offer her support and mentorship to the amazing group of talented young lawyers that form part of IMK’s next generation.

Audrey Boctor’s stellar and inspiring career path elicits respect and admiration, and is extraordinarily rich and diversified. She recognizes that her life is very full, but the passion she feels for her work and her profession drives and leads her to excel. She celebrates her victories with discretion and humility, and learns precious lessons from defeats. She considers herself extremely lucky and privileged to be surrounded by colleagues who share her positive vision and who, like her, like to recall that “Misery loves company but enthusiasm is contagious.