Name: Winston Gee
Title: Board Member
Law School: University of Toronto, Class of 2017
Background: I was born in Toronto to a Muslim father from The Gambia and a Catholic mother from London, England. But my upbringing is far less cosmopolitan – I was raised in Orillia, Ontario, a small town about 30 minutes north of Barrie. After high school, I went on to do a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University, where I studied continental philosophy, social theory, and political economy. I decided to return to Canada for law school and completed the combined Juris Doctor/Master of Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Law school seemed like a logical extension of my interests in politics and social justice. During university, I worked as an anti-poverty advocate in Boston, where I helped low-income individuals manage personal crises and obtain jobs, housing, and public benefits. Although this work was rewarding and made a real difference in people’s lives, I recognized that institutional reform was necessary to achieve broader, more lasting change. I decided to go to law school because law is the language in which institutions are made and remade. I wanted to understand this language so that I could play a more useful role in institutional reform.
Memorable Moment in Law School: In my second year of law school, I had the chance to work on a Supreme Court intervention with the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights and the BC Civil Liberties Association. The case, Henry v. British Columbia (Attorney General), was about a man who was wrongfully convicted of several sexual offences and consequently imprisoned for 27 years. During Mr. Henry’s trial, the prosecution failed to disclose a number of key facts, including the discovery of DNA evidence, the existence of an alternative suspect, and the occurrence of similar sexual assaults after Mr. Henry’s arrest. The issue on appeal was whether Mr. Henry could seek damages against the provincial government for its failures to disclose relevant information, even if he was unable to show that Crown prosecutors acted maliciously. I got to help draft the factum, attend the Supreme Court hearing, meet Mr. Henry, and work closely with Marlys Edwardh, one of Canada’s preeminent criminal defence lawyers.
Current Plans: I am currently enjoying a long summer break after articling at Torys LLP and doing a secondment at Ontario Power Generation.
Future Plans: I will be returning to Torys in September as an associate in their litigation group. I plan to practice at Torys for the foreseeable future, with a focus on appeals and public law litigation. I also hope to maintain my commitment to public service through political and charitable initiatives outside the firm.
Fun Facts About Me: There is a non-negligible possibility that I was named after the brand of cigarettes…
Advice for Incoming Law Students: For me, one of the hardest things about law school was figuring out what I should do afterwards. A mentor gave me this advice: write down three scenarios for where you want to be five years from now, and the concrete steps you will take to get there. Revisit these scenarios every year. The exercise was difficult, but it forced me think critically about why I was doing what I was doing, and whether I should be doing something else.