David Estrin joined CIGI in September 2014, as a senior research fellow with the International Law Research Program. At CIGI, he is involved with developing and leading examinations of the effectiveness of international environmental law regimes, including the following areas:

  • governance and regulation of the extractive and energy sector, including rapidly evolving international law expectations for effective environmental standards and related corporate conduct, particularly considering how non-responsiveness to these expectations may impact on human rights;
  • assessing international, transnational, and local law-based and market-based approaches to reversing climate change and its impacts (case studies); and
  • international environmental law related trade and investment and intellectual property issues.

Recognized as Canada’s senior environmental law specialist, he has for over 40 years practiced exclusively in this area, taught the subject at many law and environmental studies faculties, and has written leading texts on the subject. He has been a partner in the Toronto office of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP since 1990, where he was the founder and initial head of its Environmental Practice Group, and he is current head of its Toronto Aboriginal Practice Group. At Gowlings, and in his prior environmental law boutique practice, he advised corporations, government agencies, environmental organizations, Aboriginal communities and law firms in Canada and abroad on all facets of environmental and resource law matters. He has appeared as counsel at all levels of court in Ontario, Alberta and at the federal level, been counsel in most of the major hearings under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act, and established leading precedents in the Federal Court in matters ranging from the proper scope of federal environmental assessment to Inuit rights. In 2014 and for many years prior, he has been named in the Best Lawyers in Canada list.

In recent years, David has been actively involved with the International Bar Association (IBA). The IBA is regarded as the global voice of the legal profession and the world’s leading organization of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies, with a membership of more than 50,000 individual lawyers and over 200 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents.

David is currently chair of the IBA Environment, Health and Safety Law Committee. He is additionally co-chair of the IBA President’s Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights. In September 2014, the task force, composed of leading world legal and human rights experts and legal practitioners, released a ground-breaking report, Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption.  For 2015-2016, David will be a council member of the IBA Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law.

David is the founding editor of what is now the Canadian Environmental Law Reports, co-editor of Environment on Trial — A Handbook of Ontario Environmental Law — the first Canadian environmental law book, and author of several authoritative texts on Canadian environmental law, including the continuously updated two-volume text, Business Guide to Environmental Law, which provides unique and continuously updated insights into Canadian (and comparative US) environmental law developments affecting the business community. 

For 13 years, David was a part-time associate professor in the former Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo, where he helped originate various course offerings in environmental, land use and resources law. He has continued to lecture on a part-time basis at various law schools, including the University of Ottawa and Osgoode Hall Law School. For five years he was part of a week-long program at the Banff School of Management for senior government officials and corporate executives on “How to Prepare and Present Environmental Evidence.” During the 2015 winter term he will be a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall.

In 2006, the Canadian Bar Association established the David Estrin Prize for best scholarly essay in environmental, energy or resources law by a Canadian law student to honour his achievements.

David will be involved with CIGI on a part-time basis until he completes his transition from current roles and takes up his full-time position in Waterloo in May 2015. 

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