Patricia Hughes retires from the LCO on December 15 

At a special reception in her honour last night (November 19) at the Law Society of Upper Canada, LCO founding executive director Dr. Patricia Hughes was credited with “making the dream of a modern and responsive Law Commission of Ontario a reality.”

Hughes announced her retirement from the LCO this fall, eight years after she accepted the challenge to lead the province’s new independent law commission. She officially hands the reins to executive director designate Nye Thomas on December 15.

“Patricia has given the LCO its gravitas,” LCO Board Chair Bruce Elman told the more than 100 colleagues, stakeholders and friends who gathered to celebrate Hughes’ contributions. “She’s taken us to the point where our work is highly respected and not just provincially, but nationally and internationally.” The Board of Governors presented Hughes with a special citation bestowing upon her the title of founding executive director and recognizing her “exceptional dedication” and “tireless efforts”.

She was also presented with a glass sculpture from Tsunami Glassworks in Windsor, Ontario.

“When we launched the Law Commission in 2007, we knew that the founding executive director would be absolutely key to the commission’s success,” says Patrick Monahan, deputy attorney general of Ontario and a founding member of the LCO Board of Governors. “Fortunately, we found the perfect leader in Patricia Hughes. Her vision, commitment to access to justice and determination in the face of many challenges has made this commission what it is today — an independent, trusted and respected source of policy advice on important legal issues in Ontario.”

Since her appointment on September 7, 2007, Hughes has piloted the LCO through 12 final reports, including two ground-breaking framework reports on older adults and persons with disabilities. The LCO’s recommendations helped to shape Ontario’s new pension division law in 2009, and former Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi credited the report on vulnerable workers with informing Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act.

Under Hughes’ leadership, the LCO fostered a spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness, taking hot-button questions about the law and legal system to the legal community, academics and the people that the law affects. That consultation process, points out Larry Banack, board chair from 2009 to 2012, “has served as a model for others and is one more way in which Patricia’s contributions will endure.”

The LCO’s first public symposium, “Conversations about Law Reform”, was held in 2008, and Hughes introduced advisory groups for each project beginning in 2010. Three years ago, she launched a series of Ontario-wide law school curriculum modules to help law professors explore key issues about violence against women within every course, from family and criminal law, to ethics and professionalism.

Hughes travelled extensively during her tenure, spreading the word about the LCO to lawyers, law students and academics and community groups across the province, and to representatives of governments and law reform agencies as far away as New Zealand.

Founding board member and former Ontario Deputy Attorney General Murray Segal says a capacity for relationship-building was one of the factors that made Hughes the right leader at the right time. “She forged great working relationships with government, law schools and those dedicated to law reform. She helped give the organization credibility and was instrumental in ensuring that its role is secure going forward.”

Elman agrees. “We’re all so incredibly grateful for Patricia’s leadership and unwavering commitment to the ideas of independence, objectivity, integrity and excellence.”

“Thanks to you, Patricia, we have done very good things! Best wishes!”


You have changed the legal landscape in Ontario, Patricia, and we thank you!

 “Patricia’s dedication to the Law Commission and its mission has been, for me, inspirational. I have learned a great deal from her about the transformational role that we, as a law reform commission, can have in improving the lives of individuals and communities in our province and, perhaps, beyond.”
— Bruce Elman, LCO Board Chair

“I am so incredibly grateful for Patricia’s leadership and unwavering dedication in making the dream of a modern and responsive Law Commission in Ontario a reality.”
— Patrick Monahan, Deputy Attorney General of Ontario and founding LCO Board member

“Patricia has always possessed a remarkable collection of skills, including substantive expertise, personal integrity and a drive to get things done — and to get them done right. Combined with a fierce commitment to social justice (and evolving diplomatic skills), these qualities enabled her to guide the LCO from concept to a vibrant, respected and influential force for access to justice in Ontario. Brava!”
— Elizabeth Goldberg, CEO, Law Foundation of Ontario, 2007-2015

“As the first executive director, Patricia is owed significant credit for putting the infant organization on the right course. She made people believe in the organization, hired up staff, helped choose our initial projects and delivered on quality research and scholarship. She helped give the organization credibility and was instrumental in ensuring that its role is secure going forward. Dr. Hughes is owed our gratitude.”
— Murray Segal, Counsel, Murray D. Segal Professional Corporation, former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario and founding LCO Board member

“As chair of the Commission, I was very fortunate to have Patricia in my corner, which greatly strengthened the work then undertaken by the Board. Patricia leaves a vibrant Commission. She helped create a nationally and internationally respected organization, which is able to fearlessly examine and discuss complex societal issues.”
— Larry Banack, LCO Board Chair 2009-2012

“Reflecting on our eight years together, I’m struck first by Patricia’s absolute commitment to excellence. Secondly, by her support and real personal kindness for the people she works with. And, finally, by her love for ideas and discussion.”
— Lauren Bates, LCO Senior Lawyer

“Working closely with Patricia, I watched her run a first class ship and never settle for anything less. I hope her retirement is as much a time of discovery, challenge, fulfillment and happiness as the last eight years have been for her at the LCO.”
—  Janice Williams, LCO Executive Assistant, 2007-2014

View all stories from Liaison Fall 2015