David Estrin, Pro Bono Counsel

David Estrin is an environmental law specialist who has, since January 2019, volunteered to provide senior counsel assistance to CELA and its clients on a probono basis.

In this capacity, David is being “recycled” – as he was a CELA founder in 1970, and until 1973 was its first clinic director, general counsel and executive director. At that time CELA initiated the writing of the first Canadian book on environmental law: Environment on Trial, a Handbook of Ontario Environmental Law, edited by David and John Swaigen, in which they identified key elements for and proposed the enactment of an Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights.

In 1976 David opened Canada’s first private environmental law practice, which expanded to include several other lawyers. In 1990 he joined what is now GowlingWLP as a partner and founded the Gowling environmental law group. As a past active member of the Ontario bar and Alberta bar, Mr. Estrin was counsel to governments, crown and private corporations, municipalities, Indigenous peoples, public interest and community groups as well as law firms in Canada and the United States. He has authored a number of environmental law books and, for several decades, taught environmental law at both law and environmental studies faculties.

As Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, David co-founded the Osgoode Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinical program. He has been Chair of the International Bar Association Environment Committee, co-chaired the IBA Presidential Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights and has been active on international and domestic climate change issues.

He is a member of the World Commission on Environmental Law. In 2016 he was awarded the Ontario Law Society Medal in recognition of his pioneering work and distinguished career.