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Litigation Star

Top 100 Women in Litigation

Practice area:

Labor and employment
Professional liability

Gillian Hnatiw is the founder and principal of Gillian Hnatiw & Co., a feminist litigation boutique in Toronto. Her broad litigation practice focuses on administrative and health law, professional regulation, employment law and, in particular, claims arising from sexual misconduct and gendered violence. She is one of Canada’s foremost practitioners in the field of civil sexual assault, frequently advancing claims for plaintiffs, conducting investigations for institutions and providing training and advice to employers and organizations.  


Gillian has represented clients before all levels of court across the country, including numerous appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. She has also appeared before a variety of administrative tribunals and Coroner’s Inquests, most notably the Inquests into the deaths of Ashley Smith (2013) and Katelynn Sampson (2016). From 2021 to 2023, she served as Senior Commission Counsel to Nova Scotia’s Mass Casualty Commission, leading the gender-based violence aspects of the Commission’s mandate.  


Gillian is the past Chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), a non-profit organization working to advance substantive gender equality through litigation, law reform and public education. She speaks regularly at conferences on a wide range of topics and is frequently sought out by media for comment on issues of sexual violence, workplace misconduct, professional regulation, diversity and gender equality.  


In March 2020, Gillian was hailed as a “formidable champion of women’s civil rights” by the Toronto Lawyer’s Association, which awarded her the Honsberger Award. In 2015, Lexpert named Gillian to its annual list of “Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers under 40”. For many years she has been ranked in Best Lawyers, Lexpert, and Benchmark Legal for her expertise in a range of areas, including public and administrative law, personal injury, employment law, corporate commercial litigation and health care law. Since 2022, Benchmark Legal has named her to its annual list of top 100 Women Litigators in Canada.


Updated July 2023