Awards & Appointments


Distinguished Service Award (DSA)

The Society’s Distinguished Service Award, established in 1999, recognizes outstanding lawyers who have contributed significantly to their community, the legal profession and to the Society. Both lawyers and members of the public may submit nominations. 

The Distinguished Service Award Committee reviews the nominations and makes a recommendation to Council based on these considerations: 

  • Integrity: The recipient is of unimpeachably good character, with a reputation for the highest professional integrity. 
  • Professional achievement: The recipient is amongst the leaders in the practice of law or the academic realm. 
  • Service to the profession: The recipient has made long-term, exceptional volunteer contributions to elevate the legal profession through work with one or more of the following: the Society, the justice system, legal scholarship or otherwise.
  • Community service: The recipient is an outstanding contributor to the community, through volunteer service and a commitment to making the world a better place. 
  • Reform: The recipient has made an outstanding contribution to the betterment of the law or the improvement of the justice system. 
  • Overall: The recipient espouses the highest ideals of the legal profession and is a person to whom all members of the profession can look for inspiration. 

Recent Distinguished Service Award recipients: 

2000-2019 Recipients

2019 – Lee Cohen QC

2018 –  Lawrence (Larry) K. Evans QC

2017 – Bruce Wildsmith QC 

2016 – Gail Rudderham Chernin QC

2015 – Ron J. MacDonald QC

2014 – Heather Ann McNeill QC

2013 – Marjorie A. Hickey QC

2012 – Edwin C. Harris QC

2011 – Robert (Robbie) G. MacKeigan QC

2010 – Anne Malick QC

2008 – Innis M. Christie QC

2007 – Daniel M.Campbell QC

2006 – Bruce MacIntosh QC

2005 – Robert L. Barnes QC

2004 – Catherine Walker QC

2003 – Roberta Clarke QC

2002 – Harry Wrathall QC

2001 – Ronald Downie QC

2000 – R. Lorne MacDougall QC

Award for Mi’kmaq & Indigenous Peoples Excellence in the Legal Profession (AMIE)

The Award for Mi’kmaq & Indigenous Peoples Excellence in the Legal Profession (AMIE), established in 2022, recognizes outstanding Mi’kmaq and Indigenous lawyers within Nova Scotia who have contributed to their community, their Nation, the legal profession and to the Society.   

The AMIE Committee reviews nominations and make recommendations to Council based on the following criteria:   

  • The Nominee is a Mi’kmaw or Indigenous lawyer (practising or non practising) within Nova Scotia.   
  • Community Service: The recipient contributes and shows commitment to the Mi’kmaq & Indigenous community through volunteer work.   
  • Reform: The recipient has made and continues to advocate for reform and change in the justice system to ensure substantive equity for the Mi’kmaq communities and Indigenous peoples living in Nova Scotia.  
  • Leadership: The recipient is a community leader in striving for change.   
  • Mentorship: The recipient is a mentor to other Mi’kmaq and Indigenous lawyers.   
  • Overall: The recipient has a career in advancing Mi’kmaq and Indigenous rights and legal traditions.  

2022 Recipient

We’re seeking nominations for the 2023 Award for Mi’kmaq & Indigenous Peoples Excellence in the Legal Profession. Learn how to nominate a lawyer.

NSBS Presidents’ Leadership Award 

This award emphasizes the importance of leadership in a lawyer’s career and honours the exemplary volunteer commitment and leadership of Past Presidents to the work of the Society. 

Established by Past Presidents Philip J. Star QC and Catherine S. Walker QC, the award is presented each year at the Schulich School of Law to a graduating student who, in the eyes of the teaching faculty, has “exemplified consistent leadership qualities while at law school.” 

Recent Presidents’ Leadership Award recipients: 

Race and the Law Essay Prize

This award recognizes and encourages outstanding scholarship by law students in Nova Scotia, on topics pertaining specifically to issues of race and law. The Society’s Racial Equity Committee presents the award and Stewart McKelvey sponsors the award. 

Recent Race and the Law Essay Prize recipients

  • 2023 Prize Recipient – Keita Szemok-Uto for “Conflicting Decisions: Why the Privy Council Drifted from Precedent in Deciding Cunningham v Homma” (Read Paper – PDF)
  • 2022 Prize Recipient – Michael Michel for “Indigenous Self-Government and Criminal Law: The Path Towards Concurrent Jurisdiction in Canada” (Read Paper – PDF)

2018-2021 Recipients

2021 Prize Recipient – Maeve McCabe for “Black Femininity and the Erasure of African Nova Scotian Women and their Victimhood in Our Criminal Justice System” (Read Paper – PDF)

2020 Prize Recipient– Mukisa Kakembo, for “Name it, Then Change it: Addressing Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Criminal Justice System” (Read Paper – PDF)

2019 Prize Recipient– Julianne Stevenson, for “Challenging Whiteness: The Role for Law Societies and Critical Race Theory in Addressing Unrepresentative Juries in Canada” (Read Paper – PDF) 

2018 Prize Recipient  – D’Arcy Leitch, for “The Constitutionality of Classification: Aboriginal Overrepresentation and Security Policy in Canadian Federal Penitentiaries” (Read Paper – PDF)


King’s Counsel Appointment Process

In the fall of each year the Advisory Committee on King’s Counsel Appointments, chaired by the Honourable Justice Cindy A. Bourgeois, considers candidates for the next King’s Counsel appointments. The KC designation is awarded each year to members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and outstanding contribution to the legal community. 

2023 King’s Counsel appointments and nominations are currently open. Please read the note and criteria here.

The authorization and application forms are available here.

Notary Public Process

Practising lawyers in Nova Scotia may apply to be a notary public.  

A notary can complete a variety of legal processes and documents including administering oaths, taking and receiving affidavits, and certifying photocopied documents to be true copies of the originals. 

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice maintains the Roll of Notaries and issues an official “notary scroll,” authorizing a lawyer to act as a notary public. The Society supports to the Department of Justice by overseeing the application process for Society members. 

It can take up to eight weeks for applications to be processed and scrolls to be issued. Lawyers are not permitted to notarize any documents until they have received their scroll. Additionally, neither the Society nor the Department of Justice provides stamps or seals. 

Non-practising and retired lawyers can continue to notarize documents and swear affidavits. Generally, your notary commission and your ability to take an oath as a lawyer do not expire unless you resign or are disbarred.