Charlene Theodore

Legal Counsel, Ontario English Catholic Teacher Association, 1st Vice President, Ontario Bar Association

Ms. Theodore is a lawyer with a background in public policy and government relations. She started her career as a human rights lawyer, appearing before administrative tribunals and various levels of court, including Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal. She also represented the interests of Canadians of African descent before federal and provincial legislative committees, as well as United Nations human rights treaty bodies. She then focused her practice on labour law, specializing in complex return to work and accommodation litigation. She now serves as in house counsel to one of Ontario’s largest teachers associations with a unique practice that involves both management and union side work. Her labour practice has expanded to include pensions and benefits law, advising on legal matters related to plan governance, regulatory compliance, and fiduciary duties as well as litigating benefit cases before administrative tribunals and various levels of courtMs. Theodore is an experienced lawyer, held in high esteem by both her clients and fellow lawyers for her ability to find practical solutions to complex legal issues, as well as the most challenging issues facing the bar and the justice system. A leader and trailblazer in the legal community, Ms. Theodore has served as a Director of both the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). Throughout her time at the OBA she focused on affecting positive change throughout legal industry for women and people of colour, leading a collaborative change initiative, “Diversity in Leadership; What Great Organizations Can Do Now” and spearheading the OBA’s Inclusive Leaders professional development program.

Her work on behalf of the OBA was recognized nationally when she was honoured with a Lexpert Zenith Award, celebrating champions for the advancement of women in the legal profession.

In September of 2020, she will start her term as President of the Ontario Bar Association, becoming only the 10th woman and the first black lawyer to lead the organization since its founding in 1907.