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Gowling WLG partner to be honoured for access to justice work

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 @ 12:19 PM | By John Chunn

François Baril, a litigation partner in Gowling WLG’s Ottawa office, has been named a recipient of this year’s Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO) Order of Merit award. The award will be presented  during the AJEFO’s 40th annual conference June 21-22 in Sudbury, Ont.

According to the firm’s press release, the Order of Merit is awarded annually to one or two AJEFO members in recognition of their contribution to the promotion of legal services in French, their support of the development of common law in French and their leadership within the Franco-Ontarian community.

Baril served as president of the AJEFO from 2014 to 2016. During his term, he supported the opening of the first Legal Information Centre in Ontario, which provides free bilingual legal information and referral services to Ontario residents. He also played a significant role in the “Bilingual Ottawa” initiative, which in 2017 resulted in the City of Ottawa Act being amended to officially recognize the bilingual character of our nation’s capital.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Order of Merit,” says Baril. “Access to justice, particularly for vulnerable populations, is essential to our social fabric and to the public’s confidence in our justice system. I am proud to be associated with the AJEFO and its important work, and will continue to be an advocate for this important cause.”

Baril began his legal career with Gowling WLG as an articling student in 1996; and, with the exception of a brief hiatus in 2004-05 when he practised in Washington, D.C., he has been with the firm ever since.

Based in Ottawa, the AJEFO is a not-for-profit organization that speaks for lawyers, judges, law professors and students, and others who work to promote access to justice in French and English — the official languages of the courts of Ontario. The AJEFO also develops programs and resources to create awareness and educate the public about the justice system and their rights to judicial services in the official language of their choice.