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photo of Janani Shanmuganathan
photo by Steph Martyniuk

Alumna Janani Shanmuganathan receives Precedent Setter Award for early-career lawyers

July 14, 2020

Faculty of Law alumna Janani Shanmuganathan, a partner at the law firm Goddard Nasseri in Toronto, has received the Precedent Setter Award for her impact on case law.

Created by Toronto’s Precedent magazine, the award recognizes early-career lawyers who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their practice and their community.

In 2015, Shanmuganathan and her co-counsel, Dirk Derstine, argued successfully before the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the mandatory minimum sentence for gun possession. Since then, Shanmuganathan has worked as part of a legal team on successful challenges to four other mandatory minimum penalties for drug, gun and sex crimes. According to Precedent, the impact of these rulings has been “seismic.”

On social media, Shanmuganathan has written about the challenges of being a young woman of colour in the legal profession, and of having been mistaken on different occasions for an interpreter and a student. This has encouraged other lawyers to share similar experiences. “Once people start talking, you realize it’s not a one-off thing,” she told the magazine. “And it requires rectifying.”

About the award, she says, “It’s really nice to be recognized for work that I love doing.”

Read the Faculty of Law story