Featured Alumni

University College | Faculty of Arts & Science

Brian Greenspan

Bachelor of Arts (BA) 1968

If lawyer Brian Greenspan had a motto it might well be: Passion is the genesis of genius. As he said recently: “If you have been fortunate enough to find what you believe is your recipe for fulfilment, explore it."

The Law Society of Upper Canada awarded an honorary doctorate to renowned defence lawyer Brian Greenspan in 2012, citing his “skill and dedication to the profession of law” that has made him “one of Canada’s most highly regarded trial and appellate lawyers.”

In his address to those attending the 2012 Call to the Bar in Toronto, Greenspan summed up the meaning of the day:

"The concept that you have been called to the bar conveys a sense of mission — a dedication to the public good accompanied by conviction and principle."

Greenspan has maintained a similar passion for and commitment to the University of Toronto since his student days at University College, for which he was recognized with the Arbor Award in 2010. He founded and continues to support the Joseph H. Greenspan Memorial Award, named for his father, at the Faculty of Law. He has also served on the President’s International Advisory Council.

Greenspan, a partner in the Toronto law firm Greenspan, Humphrey, Lavine, received his BA from U of T in 1968 and his LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1971. He was awarded the Laidlaw Foundation Fellowship, received his LLM from the London School of Economics in 1972 and was called to the Ontario bar in 1974.

Greenspan taught at Osgoode from 1977 to 1984 and was a special lecturer in Criminal Law at U of T’s Faculty of Law from 1984 to 1998. He is a frequent lecturer and panellist at continuing legal education programs across Canada. He was awarded the 2002 Douglas K. Laidlaw Medal in recognition of his excellence in oral advocacy and in 2010 received the G. Arthur Martin Medal for his contribution to Criminal Justice in Canada. He is past president of the Criminal Lawyers Association and the Founding Chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers.

A 2004 article in the Globe and Mail noted that Greenspan can often be found watching the Toronto Blue Jays from his seat on the first-base line, “but that his favourite pastime remains the law.”


Published Nov. 28, 2013.

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