Meet Our MLST Award Recipients


Ms. Valerie Wise

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Valerie Wise is the 2021 recipient of the Medico-Legal Society Award.

Valerie Wise graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1990. She clerked for the Right Honourable Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada and then obtained her Master of Laws degree from UCLA in 1992.  She is a member of both the Law Society of Ontario and the State Bar of California (inactive).

Valerie has practiced a mix of civil and commercial litigation for 25 years in Ontario but has practiced exclusively in the area of health law since 2005.  Valerie has been certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in Health Law since 2012.  She is recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada for Health Care Law and Medical Negligence.

In 2013, she founded Wise Health Law – a boutique law firm focused on the practice of health and administrative law, primarily representing individual health professionals and organizations in civil litigation and with respect to regulatory matters.

Valerie has been a member of the MLST for almost 20 years and a member of council from 2008 to 2018.  She served as President of the MLST in 2016-17 and, as a Past-President, she continues to be actively involved including planning and chairing MLST events.

She is also actively involved with the Canadian and Ontario Bar Association, serving on OBA executives in the Health Law, ADR, and Administrative Law Sections since 2011, and is the incoming Vice-Chair of the CBA Health Law Section.

She has mentored many young lawyers and law students and has encouraged their involvement in the MLST. 

In her spare time, Valerie enjoys triathlon, yoga, cooking, and wine (not necessarily in that order).


Dr. Shawn D. Whatley

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Dr. Whatley is the 2019 recipient of the Medico-Legal Society Award.

This award is the highest expression of esteem which the Society can convey and is intended to honour those members of the Medical, Legal or Scientific community who have made a significant contribution to their profession, as well as to the Society or the community at large, and whose contributions are consistent with the values of the Society.

Dr. Whatley obtained his Medical degree in 1996 Cum Laude, completed his residency in Emergency Medicine, and moved into full-time Emergency Medicine. He went into Rural Family Practice and has held increasing levels of leadership as Chief of Emergency Medicine at Southlake Hospital. He combines this with a passion for teaching; lecturing at McGill and the University of Toronto.

A prolific writer, blogger and lecturer, his articles in the Huffington Post, Medical Post, as well as his personal blog, are must-reads for any physician who wants to understand what’s going on in medicine, how they will need to adapt to changes coming to the profession, and what patients can expect in future healthcare. He’s the author of the critically acclaimed best-seller, “No More Lethal Waits, 10 steps to Transform Canada’s Emergency Departments”, and a Munk Senior Fellow in Health Care at the MacDonald Laurier Institute.

Amongst his peers, Dr. Whatley is viewed as a thoughtful, engaging speaker and thought-leader who can incorporate lessons from Churchill to Dickens to the Greek philosophers when trying to steer the profession in improving and transforming healthcare. He has been a pivotal figure in the world of Ontario medical politics and physician-government relations, becoming the OMA’s first elected President in 2017, at a time of unprecedented conflict and turmoil within the profession and with the Provincial Government.

Under his leadership, the OMA began enormous governance changes, obtained a Binding Arbitration Framework with the Provincial Government, and ultimately reached the first Arbitrated Physicians Services Agreement, though not without a lot of unprecedented twists and turns along the way. The agreement has allowed the profession and the government to start back on the road of working together to solve the endless ongoing healthcare challenges here in Ontario.

As OMA President, he worked hand in hand with the small business leaders of Canada to raise awareness about the crippling effects of the proposed 2017 Canadian Small Business Tax Changes. His testimony before the Senate Finance Committee was one of the keys in this important success story of advocacy against legislation that had far-reaching, adverse effects that were not initially understood by those in power.

From small-town doctor to prolific writer, to healthcare thought-leader, to staunch advocate, Dr. Whatley has been at the forefront of advocating for his profession and working towards solutions during some of the most turbulent and challenging times in Ontario healthcare history.


Mr. William Carter

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that William Carter is to be the recipient of the 2018 Medico-Legal Society Award.

William (Bill) Carter graduated from Queen’s University in 1971 with a BA (Hons) in International Politics & Economics. In 1975 he received his LL.B from the University of Toronto and, in 1977 was called to the Bar of Ontario and commenced the practice of civil litigation and administrative law with Borden & Elliot, the Toronto constituent of the national firm later known as Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) formed in 1999.

While Bill spent his early practice years engaged across the spectrum of civil cases, he and colleagues Rino Stradiotto, Dan Ferguson, Mike McKelvey, John Morris and Daphne Jarvis (all MLST stalwarts) began to concentrate in hospital-based medical negligence litigation leading to the formation of the Health Law Group (HLG) which, in the ensuing 30 years has grown to national prominence in the field. Bill’s leadership, collegiality and mentoring have been hugely enjoyed by health leaders and legal colleagues both within and beyond BLG.

In addition to numerous high-exposure civil trials and appeals, Bill has been counsel for parties with standing at the Commission of Inquiry into Health Information (the Krever Inquiry) and the Commission of Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology (the Goudge Inquiry). In 1987, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) certified Bill as a Specialist in Civil Litigation. In 2007, he became a Certified Specialist in Health Law.

Bill’s contribution to the medico-legal community includes: teaching ‘Trial Practice’ at Osgoode Hall Law School for many years; serving as an elected Bencher of the LSUC; membership on the Mt. Sinai Hospital Ethics Committee and extensive lecturing and public-speaking about civil and professional accountability in the health sector. Bill has also served on the Council of the MLST for a number of terms.

Community service has extended to board membership and Chair of Safe Kids Canada; board member & a Governor of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and, membership on the Ontario Judicial Council.

Following his retirement from BLG at the end of 2017, Bill joined the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) as Legal Counsel.


Dr. Laura Hawryluck

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Dr. Hawryluck is to be the recipient of the 2017 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Hawryluck received her MD in 1992 from the University of Western Ontario, her Fellowship in Critical Care at the University of Manitoba in 1997, and her MSc in Bioethics in 1999. From 1999-2001 she was Assistant Professor of Critical Care/Internal Medicine, Queen's University. In 2000 she was appointed Physician Leader of the national Ian Anderson Continuing Education Program in End-of-Life Care at the University of Toronto and is currently an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Toronto. In 2002, she was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canada in recognition of her work in creating the Anderson Program and improving end-of-life care for Canadians.

Dr. Hawryluck has been the Medical Advisor to the Critical Care Secretariat Ethical Issues of Access, the Leader of the Critical Care Secretariat End-of-Life Decision-Making Performance Improvement Team in its inaugural year, and a member of the Ontario Pandemic Flu A/D/T Committee whose triage protocol was subsequently adopted worldwide.

Dr. Hawryluck has taught on medico-legal topics at all levels of medical training. She helped create and support the MLST Health Law Advocacy project which received recognition from the Chief Justice of Ontario. Recently as co-lead, she completed work on a project entitled “Balancing the interests of patients, substitute decision-makers, family and health care providers in decision-making over the withdrawal and withholding of life-sustaining treatment“ funded by the Law Reform Commission of Ontario. She is co-author/editor of the “Law of Acute Care in Canada” to be published in the fall.

Dr. Hawryluck is deeply involved in international humanitarian projects, specifically with critical care and burn units in Indore India and Cote d’Ivoire. She was co-creator and co-Director for the Royal College of Canada International (RCCI) of the first Doctorate in Medicine Program in Critical Care in the country of Nepal. She worked with the Nepal Medical Council as an international consultant to write and enact a new contemporary Code of Ethics and Professionalism for all physicians in Nepal. She is a critical care consultant for Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) telemedicine program to support physicians in the field. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for Medecins du Monde Canada.

Dr. Hawryluck served as President of the Medico-Legal Society from 2013 to 2014.


Ms. Philippa G. Samworth

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Ms. Philippa G. Samworth is to be the recipient of the 2016 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Philippa is a partner at Dutton Brock LLP and her area of practice is exclusively insurance defence with a specialty in Accident Benefits. Philippa also offers mediation and arbitration services.

Philippa has a number of achievements and was retained by the Ministry of Finance of Ontario as a consultant to provide analysis and technical advice to the Ministry on its preparation and drafting of Bill 59 and its regulations.

In 2000, she was asked by the Government of Ontario to Chair an Advisory Committee regarding the definition of Catastrophic Impairment. In March of 2004, Philippa was again retained by the Minister of Finance to conduct stakeholder consultations and provide advice and recommendations on proposals to replace the DAC system.

Philippa received her B.A. and LL.B. from Queen’s University and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1979. In 1990 she was certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in Civil Litigation. In October of 2007, Philippa was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In 2002 she was the first recipient of the Canadian Defence Lawyers Lee Samis Award of Excellence. On April 27, 2006, she became the first recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Award of Excellence in Insurance Law. In September of 2014, Philippa was awarded The Advocates’, Society Medal.

Philippa is a past President of The Advocates’ Society, a founding member of the Canadian Defence Lawyers, and a past President of The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto.


Dr. Grant Farrow

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Grant Farrow is to be the recipient of the 2015 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Grant Farrow earned his degree in medicine from the University of Toronto in 1958. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1964, a McLaughlin Travelling Fellow in Surgery from Paris and London in 1965 and 1966, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1973. He was on the Academic Staff of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto for many years and worked as a surgeon at The Toronto General Hospital beginning in 1966. While there, he developed many new surgical procedures, including performing the first human kidney transplant at The Toronto General Hospital, and subsequently the next 50 as well.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Farrow worked extensively outside of Toronto. During the 25 years between 1970 and 1995, he taught and/or performed surgery in Canada in Victoria, Kingston, Halifax, Ottawa, the Ontario Legislature, and Osgoode Hall. Places he worked overseas include Beijing and Xian in China, Istanbul, Turkey, Edinburgh, Scotland, Sydney, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, San Juan, Puerto Rico, London, UK, Seville, Spain, Mansura, Egypt, and Harare, Zimbabwe.

Dr. Farrow also participated in many medical and scientific associations. He is a Past President of the Academy of Medicine, the American Urological Association, and the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto. He is a Past Canadian Chairman of the American College of Surgeons, a Past Chairman of the International Society of Urology, and an Honorary Member of the Northwest Urology Society. He has also belonged to the British Association of Urological Surgeons, the Canadian Academy of Urological Surgeons, the Canadian Association of Clinical Surgeons, the Kergin Surgical Society, the Ontario Medical Association, the Royal Society of Medicine, London, UK, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Outside of medicine, Dr. Farrow has been involved in The York Club, serving as Chairman, the Toronto Hunt Club, the Alpine Ski Club in Collingwood, the Stony Lake Yacht Club, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Toronto, St. Peter’s-on-the-Rock Anglican Church in Stony Lake, and La Commanderie de Bordeaux, Toronto Chapter.


Mr. Niels Ortved

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that W. Niels Ortved is to be the recipient of the 2014 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Niels is a senior litigation lawyer at McCarthy, Tetrault, with an excellent reputation. He has handled a broad range of litigation, but including for the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA). For example, in the early ’80s, he acted for physicians before for the Grange Commission of Inquiry (re the digoxin deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children). More recently, he represented Dr. Charles Smith in a range of legal proceedings, including before the Goudge Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario. This was a difficult, unpopular brief. By all accounts, he handled his representation of Dr. Smith with grace and class, stayed clear of the spotlight, and, while duly representing his client, worked so as to advance the interests of justice in the very important issues which were before the Commission.


Dr. Barry W. Malcolm

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Dr. Barry W. Malcolm is to be the recipient of the 2013 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Malcolm graduated in Medicine from the University of Toronto in 1971. Following the completion of his Orthopaedic Surgical Training in the Gallie Program at the University of Toronto in June 1977, he did post-graduate spinal surgery training in Toronto (July – December 1977) and in Minneapolis, Minnesota (January – June 1978). He received his Royal College Fellowship in Orthopaedic Surgery in 1977 and began active practice in Orthopaedic Surgery in July 1978 at the Toronto East General and Orthopaedic Hospital where his practice is comprised of trauma and general orthopaedics with subspecialization in spinal surgery.

He moved to the University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital in 1995 while doing an Executive MBA at the University of Toronto. There, he was the Medical Director of Rehabilitation Solutions through 1998.

He has been on the active staff of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre since September 1998, with his primary office at the Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre; and outpatient clinic at the Sunnybrook site. He is Part-Time Medical Director of the Working Condition Program and WSIB specialty Neck and Back Clinic at the Holland Centre and the Sunnybrook Centre for Independent Living (SCIL) at Sunnybrook. He is on the courtesy staff of the Women’s College Hospital. He is currently a part-time Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. His current clinical practice (non-surgical) involves the evaluation of workers with orthopaedic and spine diseases/disorders and their associated disabilities in the WSIB Regional Evaluation Centre (REC) at the Holland Centre; and patients/workers with spine-related problems in his outpatient clinic at Sunnybrook; and in the WSIB Neck & Back Specialty Clinic, at the Holland Centre. His office practice involves third-party assessments. He teaches medical students, residents, physical therapists, and family physicians at the University of Toronto’s undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and other organizations in spine-related problems. He is a member of several organizations including the Canadian and Ontario Orthopaedic Associations, and the Canadian Spine Society; he is a Past-President of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto.


Dr. John R. Carlisle

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that John R. Carlisle is to be the recipient of the 2012 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Carlisle is an adjunct professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University where he has taught the Law and Medicine course for over 25 years. Until his retirement as Deputy Registrar, he was for 20 years a medical officer of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He is a past president of the American College of Legal Medicine where he was the first Canadian elected and also is a past president of the Canadian College of Legal Medicine and of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto.

Dr. Carlisle graduated in Medicine from the University of Toronto in 1969 and in Law in 1973. After practicing medicine in Toronto for some years he was appointed a medical officer of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and served the profession for 25 years retiring in 2004 as Deputy Registrar. After law school, he took the LLM program at Osgoode Hall and has served as an adjunct professor of law there for many years teaching the course in Law and Medicine most recently in partnership with Professor Brian Brock. He is also a clinical tutor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. He served for many years as a member of the Canadian Medical Association Committee on Ethics and was one of the authors of their Code of Ethics. He is the author of over one hundred medico-legal articles and currently serves as a coroner for the Province of Ontario.



Dr. Charles H. Tator

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Charles H. Tator is to be the recipient of the 2011 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Tator graduated from the faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and trained there in research and neuropathology for which he received MA and Ph.D. degrees. He then completed the Neurosurgery resident training program at the University of Toronto. In 1989, he became Chair of Neurosurgery, at the University of Toronto. He has been Head of Neurosurgery at Sunnybrook Hospital, the Toronto Western Hospital, and the University Health Network. He has trained a large number of neurosurgical residents in the hospitals and surgeon-scientists in his laboratory.

In 1992, Dr. Tator founded ThinkFirst Canada, a national brain and spinal cord injury foundation aimed at reducing the incidence of catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries. He has published 321 papers in peer review journals and 85 book chapters, mostly in the field of brain and spinal cord injury. He developed the first acute spinal cord injury unit in Canada in 1974. He has performed research and written papers on the epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of brain and spinal cord injury. He identified post-traumatic ischemia and other mechanisms of secondary injury in the pathophysiology of trauma to the nervous system. His acute cord clip compression model was one of the first clinically relevant spinal cord injury models in rodents. Currently, he is focused on the use of stem cells for the regeneration of the spinal cord after trauma. He initiated and has held two research chairs at the University of Toronto, the Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery and the Campeau Family-Charles Tator Chair in Brain and Spinal Cord Research.

Dr. Tator is a member of the Order of Canada, and an inductee into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. At present, he is a Senior Scientist in the Toronto Western Research Institute and a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. He is the Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association Spinal Cord Injury Research Laboratory in the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. In 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society and the Ken Langford Lifetime Award of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. In 2011 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Spinal Injuries Association.


Mr. Joseph Colangelo

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that Joseph Colangelo is to be the recipient of the 2010 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Joseph has over 30 years of experience representing clients and arguing cases before the courts and tribunals on issues relating to health law. He has represented patients and health care practitioners of many of the regulated health care professions. He has seen both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ side of legal debates concerning health law and health policy issues. He is a past president of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto. He has chaired several MLST committees which have produced the Society’s key publication, The Medico-Legal Report, including the 2010 edition. This latest edition explains the duty of expert witnesses and the background giving rise to recent amendments relating to the approach to and the content of proper expert reports and expert testimony. He chaired the MLST Committee which made submissions to the Honourable Coulter Osborne, QC on civil justice reform. He is the lead mentor/supervisor of the MLST Advocacy Project. The Project is supported by doctors and lawyers who provide mentorship to law students of the Faculty of Law of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law Students. These law students provide assistance to unrepresented persons who request reviews of decisions of complaints committees of the regulated health colleges by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. It is unique access to justice initiative which has drawn praise from members of the judiciary and the health care and legal professions.

Joseph’s service extends beyond the MLST to the Canadian Italian Advocates Organization; Opera York; Villa Colombo Homes for the Aged; and as a member of the Critical Care Ethics Subcommittee for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Called to the bar in 1978 he practiced for many years as an associate and partner with McCarthy and McCarthy and is currently a sole practitioner. In 2009 he received the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto.




Dr. William O. Geisler

The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that William O. Geisler, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C) is to be the recipient of the 2009 Medico-Legal Society Award.

Dr. Geisler’s work on behalf of the disabled is an example of an outstanding commitment to those less fortunate in society. Lawyers tend to think of the issue of access to justice as limited to the efficient processing of a case through the court system. However, like many other doctors of the MLST, Dr. Geisler has seen the issue of access to justice in much broader terms. To Bill, access to justice has meant ensuring that the disabled are treated fairly by society and by the health care system every day. He has seen the rights of the disabled to proper health care as essential to the protection and recognition of their human dignity. He has advanced their cause by transformed public attitudes. No longer are the disabled seen as members of Society for whom care means that they should be “warehoused” in institutions. Through the work of Bill and many others, the disabled are now regarded as persons who are entitled to the full scope of medical care so that they may enjoy to the greatest extent possible an integrated and respected role in Society. Long before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms spoke about the right to life, liberty, and security of the person and about the right to equality, Bill Geisler was in the community doing the work to ensure that those rights were in fact enjoyed by the disabled.

Dr. Geisler is currently Professor Emeritus (Rehabilitation Medicine) at the University of Toronto; Consultant at Lyndhurst Spinal Injury Hospital and the Toronto Hospital Department of Medicine & Rehabilitation Medicine; and Attending Staff Physician, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Wellesley Hospital. He was President of the MLST from 1993-1994 and holds the Order of Canada.


Mr. Brian Brock

The MLST is proud to honour Mr. Brian Brock with the first Medico-Legal Society of Toronto Award

Brian Brock, Dutton Brock's senior partner, has been a prominent civil litigation trial lawyer in Ontario for more than 30 years. He is a highly regarded litigator and has been the lead counsel on major cases from coast to coast. Brian appears at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Lexpert has, for a decade, noted his prominence in Commercial Insurance, Products Liability, Class actions, Professional Liability and Personal Injury. Brian is an Adjunct Professor (Medicine and the Law) at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is also a member of the distinguished American College of Trial Lawyers and has been listed on Canada's top 500 lawyers since 2002.