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Saturday, August 1, 2015

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Jewish lawyers group formed in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — The initiative of a young lawyer from Montreal has resulted in the formation of the newly constituted Ottawa Jewish Lawyers’ Society (OJLS.)

From left, Rosalind Conway, MP Irwin Cotler, Esther Rossman, Cory Olishansky, Ian Goodman, David Anber and Julie Greenspoon.

Cory Olishansky, a graduate of the University of Montreal law school, practised in Montreal briefly before coming to Ottawa in 2007 to work for the federal government.

Hoping to meet other Jewish lawyers, he looked for a group like Montreal’s Lord Reading Society, a well-known institution of Jewish lawyers in that city that has been in existence for half a century.

Surprised and disappointed to find that no such group exists in Ottawa, Olishansky decided to start one himself.

“The idea had been percolating in my head for some time,” he said, and he spread the word by e-mail that he was holding an initial brainstorming session. A dozen people came to that first meeting and several got together again to define the goals and expectations of the group.

The group was launched March 1, with a meet-and-greet event at Prime 360 restaurant. More than 70 people attended, many of whom were anxious to hear Liberal MP Irwin Cotler speak on the topic of “The Iranian Four-Fold Threat: What’s To Be Done?”

“I was blown away by the number of people who came,” Olishansky said. “There were people of all ages and levels of experience in the profession, from law students and young lawyers to former Liberal deputy prime minister Herb Gray.”

Jack Silverstone, a senior lawyer who attended the event, was very impressed with its success.

“All honours and recognition go to Cory, who just came into this community and ran with the ball,” he said. “The event was excellent. Attendance was fantastic. I was very happy to see so many young lawyers, new to the bar. People were networking, speaking about important issues and about how they can become active in the community, as lawyers. It was a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new people.”

Silverstone’s comments were echoed by others in attendance. Dara Lithwick, also a federal government lawyer, sees the group as a “web where Jewish Ottawans are able to connect their personal and professional lives, an association where we can have Jewish lawyers coming together to work on areas of common interest and perhaps working together on causes right here in Ottawa.”

Aaron Moscoe has been in private practice for nearly 30 years and he, too, found the event exciting. “It was a warm environment, a good opportunity to meet colleagues.”

He said the choice of Cotler as speaker was “brilliant.” Many in attendance had been his law students at McGill University and thought of him as their mentor.

The OJLS’ future is unclear. There’s a general consensus that there’s a need and desire for such a group in Ottawa.

For further information, contact ottawajls@gmail.com

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