By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
On the verge of celebrating a half-century in the legal field, a London lawyer was awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada’s highest honour last week.
James R. Caskey, a senior partner with Siskinds LLP, was one of six recipients of the 2012 Law Society Medal, which recognizes lawyers who have made a significant contribution to their profession.
Caskey said he is “quite humbled” by the award and added the honour is especially significant to him since it was “those in the profession that have knowledge of you” who decided to bestow the medal upon him.
“Because it is a recognition of your peers it is very special,” he said, adding he is in great company with the five other medal recipients.
“Every one of them is a wonderful practitioner,” Caskey said. “As you sit there and listen to their accomplishments, you look at your own life and think what a wonderful collection of people you’re with.
“I just love the professionals and people that I work with.”
Susan Tonkin, a law society spokeswoman, said Caskey was selected as a recipient for the medal “for his significant contributions and exemplary service to both the legal profession and his community during his distinguished career of more than 40 years.”
The selection of recipients is made annually by the Law Society Medals Committee, which comprises the Treasurer, several benchers, the Chief Justice of Ontario, as well as representatives of other legal partner organizations.”
Caskey is a senior member of Siskinds’ General Litigation Group and practises administrative law, corporate and commercial litigation, municipal, planning and environmental group law, mediation and insurance law.
He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1979 and lectured at Western University from 1972 to 1982 on trial process and was a senior instructor for the Bar Admissions Course on Civil Procedure from 1977 to 1987.
He also served as counsel to the London Police Services Board and was counsel to the City of London for its comprehensive review of policies and procedures.
In 2003, Caskey was elected a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and served two terms.
Two years ago he received the Middlesex Law Association’s Distinguished Service Award.
For the past six years, he has been included on the Best Lawyers in Canada list and this year, Caskey was named Personal Injury Litigation Lawyer of the Year for London and Windsor.
Caskey said it was his uncle, George Bull, who influenced him to go into the field of law and his father was also a lawyer who worked with the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Born and raised in Toronto, where he received his law degree in 1961 at the York University’s Osgoode Hall, Caskey said it was the dean of his law school who suggested he come to London to learn from lawyer George Mitchell.
Caskey said he thought he would spend two years “learning the trade” here and then return to Toronto.
That was 1963.
“And 49 years later, I’m still here,” he said.
Within the course of three months, Caskey’s life profoundly changed.
In March, 1963, he came to London and one month later he was called to the bar.
In May of that year, he married the “love of his life” and realized the Forest City could offer him challenges and opportunities equal to those found in Toronto.
“But you had the added benefit of being home for dinner with your family,” he said, adding such a feat would not be as easy in Toronto.
Caskey said he is excited to celebrate 50 years practising law and has no plans to slow down, adding he is still in his office almost every day.
When asked what keeps him going, he said the “rewarding and fulfilling experience” of practising law.