Paul Paton, dean of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, and an expert on legal ethics, professional responsibility, the regulation of lawyers and corporate governance, is the 2019 recipient of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s highest individual honour, the Robert V.A. Jones Award.
The award “recognizes an exceptional contribution to the development or the promotion of the in-house counsel bar or community, including significant research or writing on related issues.”
CCCA Chair Mike McKinney, Q.C., noted that the award is presented to a recipient "whose career exemplifies the highest standards of service, conduct and professionalism ... [Paton’s] leadership, expertise, enthusiasm and hard work have contributed to making us the thriving and growing community we are today. There is no one who is more deserving of this recognition."
The association cited Paton’s outstanding contributions over the past two decades, particularly in research, writing and speaking about the ethical challenges facing the in-house counsel community. In addition to authoring leading academic journal articles in the Canadian Bar Review and the Stanford Journal of Law, Business and Finance, and book chapters used across the country, he was lead columnist for Lawyers’ Weekly In-House Counsel magazine for five years,and researcher for a national project on privilege and confidentiality for in-house counsel for the Canadian Bar Association and CCCA.
Paton’s work has covered ethical issues ranging from managing internal investigations, implications of shareholder activism for corporate governance advisors, lawyers as whistleblowers, and comparative approaches to privilege and confidentiality. He has spoken or written on lawyers in the Enron, Wells Fargo, General Motors ignition switch, and Stanford Financial scandals, as well as on the role of corporate counsel in upholding the rule of law.
Paton has shone a spotlight on the unique and difficult position corporate counsel occupy, said nominator Brian Wylynko, MD regional counsel for Federal Express Canada Corporation.
“He brings an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues but relates the information in a way that is practical, accessible and supportive. I myself have relied on his work and perspectives and can think of nobody else whose contributions match what Paul has accomplished in this field in Canada for nearly two decades."
Ray Hansen, QC, vice-president of law and land and corporate secretary with Syncrude, recognized Paton as “both a practitioner and mentor when it comes to leveraging inclusion and collaboration in working and resolving difficult and controversial legal and business issues,” noting them as critical skill sets in business today.
Rob Armstrong, QC, president of the Law Society of Alberta and privacy counsel with the Calgary Police Service, praised Paton’s contributions to the work of regulators of the legal profession in addressing the challenges corporate counsel face. “Dr. Paton's generosity of both his time and his knowledge have contributed significantly to the community of in-house legal regulators and, by extension, the whole profession."
Paton will receive the Robert V.A. Jones Award in Toronto at the association’s national conference on April 8.
“This latest recognition of our dean, noting his high-calibre reputation among his national peers, underscores just how fortunate we are to have him leading our Faculty and influencing a new generation of lawyers,” said Moin Yahya, vice-dean of the Faculty.