• "I had the pleasure of working with Neil when he was..."
    - Michael Cochrane
  • "Neil was a wonderful person and a great lawyer. Please..."
    - Blair Bowen
  • "My condolences to Marie and the entire family. Neil and I..."
    - Barry Lubotta
  • "My sincerest sympathies."
    - Tom Caplan
  • "I never met Neil in person, but he used to write uniquely..."
    - Riva

FINKELSTEIN, Neil Richard Neil Richard Finkelstein, age 66, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in the arms of his family. He was born September 5, 1951 in Montreal. Neil met and married Marie Alison Helfield at McGill Law School. They have loved, supported, and cared for each other for 40 years. He leaves behind his cherished wife Marie; his children Jonathan and Natasha, Emily and Rocky, and Sara; his grandchildren Ty and Jacob Neil; as well as his brother and sister- in-law Michael and Karen. He was predeceased by his brother Eric and his parents Edward Lawrence Finkelstein and Helene Grossman. After becoming a Chartered Accountant, Neil attended McGill Law School, where he graduated in 1979 with six prizes and two scholarships. He completed a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School and clerked for the Right Honourable Bora Laskin, Chief Justice of Canada, from 1980- 81. He was called to the bar in 1982 and practiced law at Blake Cassels, Davies Ward, and McCarthy Tetrault. In 1984-5, Neil was Senior Policy Advisor to Ian Scott, Attorney General of Ontario. He was also the Constitutional Advisor to Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells on the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. Throughout his 35-year law career, Neil argued many of Canada's landmark cases on Charter rights, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Contracts Law, Competition Law, Securities Law, Class Actions, and Aboriginal Law. He argued 30 appeals before the Supreme Court of Canada, 58 appeals in 9 courts of appeal, 102 trials and hearings in 8 provinces, two Commissions of Inquiry, and two international arbitrations. Neil was co- counsel to the Gomery Commission into Sponsorships and Advertising by the Government of Canada in 2004-05. When he examined Prime Minister Paul Martin, it was the first time a sitting prime minister of Canada had been examined at a public inquiry since Sir John A. MacDonald at the Canadian Pacific Railway Commission in 1873. Neil took on many pro-bono cases. He was elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada from 1991 to 2007, and served as a Life Bencher. He was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and an honorary fellow of COMBAR (UK). He also organized, with Justice Patrick Monahan, the Raoul Wallenberg International Human Rights Symposium. He authored, co-authored, or edited 7 books and 32 articles and cases comments on a wide variety of legal subjects. Of particular note, Neil authored the 5th edition of Laskin's Canadian Constitutional Law at the specific request of Chief Justice Bora Laskin to the publisher. Neil always said law was a mentoring profession. He invested much time and energy in his role as mentor to young lawyers at Blakes, Davies, and McCarthys, as well as others with potential who came across his path. Neil enjoyed teaching law as Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto and taught two courses at the University of Ottawa Law School. On June 20, 2017, Neil received his Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the Law Society of Upper Canada. Service was held at Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel, on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Interment in the Habonim section of Pardes Shalom Cemetery. Shiva at 515 Vesta Drive, Toronto. Memorial donations may be made to The Gerry and Nancy Pencer Brain Trust Fund c/o Princess Margaret Foundation 416-946-6560.
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Published in Montreal Gazette from June 14 to June 15, 2018
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