David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont, LLB (Osgoode Hall Law School 1979), LL. M (Harvard Law School 1982) LL.D. (Hon.) (Queens 1999, University of western Ontario 2006, Law Society of Upper Canada 2016)
David Lepofsky is a visiting professor (part-time) at the Osgoode Hall Law School and an adjunct member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He holds volunteer leadership roles in the disability community. He is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and the chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee
In 1979, David Lepofsky graduated with honours From Osgoode Hall Law School with a Bachelor of Laws. He obtained a Masters of Law from the Harvard Law School in 1982.
He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1981. From 1982 to the end of 2015, he practised law in Toronto with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, in the areas of constitutional, civil, administrative and most recently, criminal law. In 2004, he was appointed to the position of General Counsel. This is the highest promotion in the Ontario Public Service (outside management). Reserved for only a handful of the 2,000 lawyers in the Ontario Public Service, it is reserved for the most senior counsel, to recognize career achievement in handling the most complex work, demonstrated diversity of expertise, creativity, professional leadership, judgement, and mentoring/role modelling.
From 1982 to 1988, he served as counsel in the Crown Law Office Civil, conducting civil, administrative and constitutional litigation on behalf of the Ontario Government. From 1989 to 1993, he served as counsel in the Constitutional Law and Policy Division, conducting constitutional litigation on the Government’s behalf. From 1993 to the end of 2015, he served as counsel in the Crown Law Office Criminal, conducting criminal appeals in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. He has appeared on at least 30 cases in the Supreme Court of Canada in his career, as counsel or co-counsel, and in some 200 cases in the Ontario Court of Appeal. He retired from his position with the Ontario Public Service at the end of 2015.
Since 1991, he has served as a part time member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where he teaches an advanced constitutional law seminar on freedom of expression and press. From 1987 to 2005, he served as Associate Head of the Ontario Bar Admission's Course's Public Law Section.
Starting in January 2016, he serves as a part-time visiting professor of legal ethics and public interest advocacy on the faculty at the Osgoode Hall Law School.
Since the late 1970s, he has been active in a volunteer capacity, advocating for new laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Canada. In 1980, he appeared before the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, on behalf of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for an amendment to the proposed Charter of Rights, to guarantee equality rights to persons with disabilities. The efforts of a great many combined to lead Parliament to pass the disability amendment to the Charter.
From 1980 to 1982, he served on the leadership team of a broad disability coalition that successfully advocated for inclusion of protection against discrimination based on disability in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
From 1994 to 2005, he led the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. That coalition successfully campaigned for ten years to win passage of two new Ontario laws to make Ontario fully accessible to persons with disabilities, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. Since then, he has helped in efforts to get that law effectively implemented.
In late February, 2009, he became the Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He and the Alliance have pressed for the prompt enactment and enforcement of strong accessibility standards under the Disabilities Act. In 2010 they succeeded in getting Ontario election legislation amended to address accessibility barriers impeding voters with disabilities, although they have more to do to get telephone and internet voting to become a reality in Ontario elections.
From late 2015 to late 2016, He served as co-chair of Barrier-Free Canada. It is a community coalition that advocates for the enactment of a national Canadians with Disabilities Act.
Starting in 1994, he campaigned to get the Toronto Transit Commission to announce all subway stops, and later all bus stops, for the benefit of passengers with vision loss. Between 2001 and 2007, he personally fought two cases against TTC. In 2005, the Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to consistently announce all subway stops (Lepofsky v. TTC #1). In 2007, the Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to announce all bus and streetcar stops (Lepofsky v. TTC #2).
Starting in April 2015, he serves as a member of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. In January 2016 he became its chair. That legally-mandatory committee advises the Toronto District School Board on reforms needed to improve special education services and programs.
Awards include investiture in the Order of Canada (1995), the Order of Ontario (2007), and the Terry Fox Hall of Fame (2003), honorary doctorates from Queen's University, the University of Western Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada, and other awards from other organizations including e.g. the City of Toronto, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Bar Association Public Lawyers Section, the Advocates Society, the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association, the Ontario March of Dimes and Community Living Ontario.
He was very flattered and humbled when the Canadian Lawyer Magazine August 2010 edition listed him among Canada’s 25 most influential lawyers. However, he was left wondering: “If I am so influential, why doesn’t anyone listen to me?”
He is the author of one law book, and the author or co-author of 30 law journal articles or book chapters on topics including constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law, human rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities. His publications have been cited with approval in several decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as by trial and appeal courts across Canada. He has lectured on topics including these across Canada, and in the U.S., Israel, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Belgium.
AODA Alliance: www.aodaalliance.org