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Tribute to Ontario's top judge in the works

Chief Justice of Ontario Warren Winkler poses for a photo in his office at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler's retirement is well over a year away. But already the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, Lorne Sossin, is talking about Chief Justice Winkler's legacy.

No stranger to awards, Ontario's top judge will be getting an honorary doctor of laws at Osgoode's spring convocation on Thursday.

But the law school has also announced plans to launch a new institution in his name: the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution.

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The plans include the establishment of a Winkler Chair in Dispute Resolution, who will lead the new institute. The effort is meant to bring together scholars and encourage research on alternatives to court battles such as mediation and arbitration – a popular topic as the court system continues to face strains.

Making this happen requires at least $3-million, and a fundraising effort is already under way. The university has pledged to match the first $1-million, and a team led by prominent litigator Neil Finkelstein of McCarthy Tétrault LLP has begun looking for money.

Mr. Sossin said the institute will be a fitting tribute to the respected judge, who graduated from Osgoode 50 years ago and whose career as a labour lawyer and on the bench saw him seek out both old and new methods of resolving disputes.

"It really has been sparked by people wanting to honour the Chief Justice and his legacy," Mr. Sossin said, adding that the new institution would become "a hotbed of new ideas."

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