Osuji & Smith Calgary Lawyers, 2024 ThreeBestRatedⓇ Award Winner From Calgary Shares Their Year In Review!

Osuji & Smith Calgary Lawyers, 2024 ThreeBestRatedⓇ Award Winner From Calgary Shares Their Year In Review!

Osuji & Smith Lawyers owned by Charles Osuji has yet again won the ThreeBestRatedⓇ Award for being one of the Best Employment Lawyers in Calgary. The firm is winning the award year-after-year with their pure commitment to their service!

In Charles Osuji’s professional journey, he has passionately carved out and established one of the largest and fastest-growing solely BIPOC/Black-owned law firms in Canada. He stands as a testament to the fact that inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplaces are not only possible but are flourishing in the Calgary, Albertan, and Canadian legal spheres. This success echoes his deep-rooted belief that one’s background should never be a barrier to professional achievement.

His mission has always been clear: to mold Osuji & Smith into a bastion of inclusivity for all professionals, especially those just embarking on their legal careers. Through the “Foot-in-the-Door” Initiative, he is creating an environment that not only welcomes but also nurtures and propels lawyers to success. This unique talent development approach has become a beacon, offering hundreds of lawyers each year a chance to succeed. In turn, this ensures that Osuji & Smith remains an inspiring, inclusive home for excellence and professional growth. For these efforts, the legal community has bestowed upon him honors including Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers by the Canadian Lawyer Magazine, Lawyer to Watch by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, the Lexpert Rising Star: Leading Lawyers under 40, and the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch. These accolades are not just recognitions of past achievements but beacons of the ongoing impact he continues to have on the legal profession.

Charles takes immense pride in Osuji & Smith’s robust commitment to diversity and inclusion—a principle that is at the very heart of their mission and strategic vision. Within the walls of Osuji & Smith, you will discover a dynamic mosaic of talent spanning ages from the energetic twenties to the wisdom-filled seventies, fluent in over 20 languages including Ibo, French, Edo, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Urhobo, Istekiri, Italian, South Korean, Twi, Ewe, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, etc. Charles’ ambition goes beyond fostering diversity; it is about nurturing a culture of inclusion where every professional—regardless of race, whether they are black, brown, or any other hue, whether they are lawyers, paralegals, or articling students—feels valued, thrives, and achieves success.

Osuji & Smith’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Inclusive Workplaces Award by the Government of Alberta, the Inclusive Leadership Award by Immigrant Champions of Canada, the Inclusive Organization Award by Immigrant Champions Awards, the Power of Inclusion Community Award by Council of Nigerian Professionals of Canada, the Black Icon Award by Nigerian IT Professionals of Canada (NIPCA), the Top DEI Person of the Year Award by Canadian Multicultural Group, and more. These accolades mirror their efforts to bring justice closer to the people of this Province, particularly the underprivileged.

2023 witnessed Osuji & Smith’s ongoing, unrelenting commitment to the foregoing values, including unparalleled growth, excellence, community service, diversity, mentorship, contribution to the legal profession and being recognized by the legal profession and our communities. Some of the highlights of 2023 are summarized below:

60% Growth Of Staff In 2023!

Shortly after acquiring their brand new second location located 3 minutes from Calgary downtown at 1109 Edmonton Trail NE. Osuji & Smith hired more than 15 professionals to add to its growing team, leading to about a 60% increase in staff in just one year. From a team of 7 in 2017, Osuji & Smith has burgeoned under Charles Osuji’s stewardship to 37 employees and staff, including 23 lawyers across two Calgary offices. They are now the largest BIPOC/Black-owned law firm in Canada, inspiring young and internationally trained lawyers nationwide

To seamlessly assimilate old staff with new staff, Osuji & Smith started the year 2023 with a staff appreciation party, which was held on January 20, 2023, at the Calgary Petroleum Club. As is the tradition at Osuji & Smith, it was an opportunity for management to thank and appreciate every member of the team in front of their peers.

Establishment Of The Foot In the Door Initiative (FIDI)!

Charles Osuji’s legal odyssey is a narrative of bold choices and relentless determination, shaping the contours of the legal profession. When Charles immigrated to Canada, he encountered the familiar hurdles many newcomers face: limited networks and the daunting task of requalifying. Despite the challenges, he persevered, working various jobs while pursuing his legal credentials. The quest for an articling position was arduous, with over 200 applications and no responses, a stark reminder of the obstacles faced by internationally trained professionals like himself. Yet, this experience didn’t dampen his spirit; instead, it fueled his resolve to become part of the solution within the legal industry.

The breakthrough came when Charles met Mr. Bruce Randall and, through him, began to widen his connections, which ultimately led to meeting with Jim Smith. In their sole interview, Mr. Smith saw beyond his background, education, accent, and newcomer status; he saw his potential. At 26, joining his firm was a dream come true. Mr. Jim gave him a “foot in the door”.

Fast forward to his call to the Alberta Bar in August 2014, by 2016, Charles made partner, and in 2017, he took the audacious step of buying out Mr. Smith and rebranding the firm as Osuji & Smith Lawyers.

With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by internationally trained lawyers, in 2023, Charles founded the Foot-in-the-Door Initiative (FIDI), a groundbreaking, federally registered nonprofit dedicated to bridging the gap for these professionals in Canada. FIDI has revolutionized the landscape for over 250 lawyers, offering them invaluable Canadian legal experience and the confidence to navigate the Alberta legal community. It is a first of its kind in Canada, providing tomorrow’s legal scholars and lawyers with the opportunity to find their way into the Alberta legal community with hands-on Canadian experience in client consultation, supporting lawyers, networking across Alberta and navigating the workplace.

Charles Osuji’s personal funds have supported FIDI candidates, demonstrating his and Osuji & Smith’s commitment to easing the integration process for others following in his footsteps. This dedication has not gone unnoticed. In 2023, the Government of Alberta honored him with the ‘Inclusive Workplaces Award’ in addition to awarding him with the Late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for all his contributions to the Province of Alberta.

Just in 2023 alone, 7 former candidates of FIDI were called to the Alberta Bar. These candidates are Juliette Omonigho (called, June 21, 2023, and now an Associate with Osuji & Smith), Amen Omorodion (called, July 27, 2023), Sally Osuji (called, August 23, 2023, and now an Associate with Osuji & Smith), Akindele Tawoju (called, December 5, 2023), Oluchi Peter (called December 8, 2023) Christie Eze (called to the Ontario and Alberta Bar and now an Associate with Osuji & Smith) and Sukhcreet Sidhu (called December 13, 2023, and now an Associate with Osuji & Smith). These folks have joined a host of other former FIDI candidates who have now qualified to practice law in Canada after gaining meaningful Canadian legal experience directly or indirectly through FIDI. There are, at least, 7 more FIDI candidates in line to be called to Alberta in 2024!

Immense gratitude goes to the staff of Osuji & Smith for their support of FIDI programs and candidates. Special thanks to Juliette Omonigho, Shikha Shukla, Bruce Randall, Lucy Mewanu, Joshua Williams, Christie Eze, Vincent Tudor, Chukwuemeka Dimiri, Yasmin Dhalla, Lyon Ezeogu and Imtiaz Hafiz.

Through Charles Osuji’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity, equity and accountability, Osuji & Smith Lawyers has not only established itself as a pillar of legal excellence but has also become a beacon of unity that arises from a diverse and vibrant professional environment. It continues to provide a springboard where newcomers, racialized lawyers, and non-racialized lawyers feel welcome to the legal profession and empowered to establish their own successful legal careers. You can contact them through [email protected]

Podcasts, Keynote Speeches & Contributions To The Community!

Charles Osuji is more than a lawyer; he is a catalyst for change within the community and beyond. Despite the demands of leading a thriving law firm and guiding a team of dedicated professionals, he dedicates himself to various non-profit and community organizations. His involvement is not peripheral; he actively contributes to the local fabric through hands-on participation in working groups, church initiatives, and youth programs, leveraging his leadership positions to effect tangible change. They include Founding Ambassador with United Way, Calgary, Mentor, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, volunteer, Mustard Seed and Habitat for Humanity through CRIEC, volunteer through Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, Mentor and Member, Igbo Cultural Association of Calgary (ICAC), Mentor and Member, Nigerian Cultural Association of Calgary (NCAC), Mentor and Member, Nigerians Inspiring Development Organization Americas, Canada (NIDOA), Mentor and Member, Calgary Black Chambers, Mentor and Member, Black North Initiative (“BNI”), Mentor Lead, Law Society of Alberta, etc.

As a Founding Ambassador with United Way in Calgary, in 2023, Charles champions fundraising for vital charities, contributing to the organization’s pivotal work on diversity and inclusion. In 2023, his voice was one for education and motivation, resonating in community events, Law Society panels, guest speaker at Black Law Students Association of Canada’s national and local events, and as the Convocation Speaker for the University of Calgary’s 2023 graduating class of medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, and academia. His insights and experiences shared across interviews—print, television, and podcasts—serve to educate and inspire, drawing from my own professional journey.

In his role with the Black North Initiative, Charles stands against systemic racism, advocating for equality and justice. His community contributions have been acknowledged through a multitude of honors such as the Late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal by the Government of Alberta, the Inclusive Workplaces award by the Government of Alberta, the Avenue Calgary Top 40 Under 40Black Excellence Award by Calgary Black Chambers, the Immigrant of Distinction Award by Immigrant Services Calgary, the Inclusive Leadership Award for promoting inclusion by Immigrant Champions Awards, the Inclusive Organization Award by Immigrant Champions Awards, the Black Icon Award by Nigerian IT Professionals of Canada (NIPCA), the 100 Most Influential Black Canadians (Afroglobal TV), the Professional Achievement Award (Afroglobal TV), the Achievement Award by the Igbo Cultural Association of Calgary, the Hope Awards by Aspen Family and Community Network Society, the Entrepreneur of the Year Afro Canadians Award by Diversity Magazine,  the CY Ekwulugo Award for Volunteering and Community Service, by the Igbo Cultural Association of Calgary, Alberta, and the Power of Inclusion Community Award by Council of Nigerian Professionals, Canada, are not just recognitions but a testament to the impact of my endeavors.

Charles’ commitment is unwavering—to mentor, to lead, and to inspire. Whether it’s through the Law Society of Alberta, the Calgary Black Chambers, or the many cultural associations he is part of, or supporting local soccer tournaments and fundraisers, his objective remains the same: to empower, to uplift, and to drive forward the cause of inclusion and equity. These efforts have not gone unnoticed, with nominations for prestigious awards like the Les Prix Canie Awards’ Black Entrepreneur AwardCanada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, the Employer Awards for Newcomer Employment, given by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Bar Association’s Douglas Miller Rising Star Award and acknowledgments as one of the “Outstanding Africans in Canada.”

Despite his extremely busy schedule, Charles participated in the following podcasts and appearances in 2023:

  1. Think BIG for Africa Podcast – January 12, 2023
  2. My Journey TV Show on January 21, 2023
  3. Guest speaker at University of Calgary Black Law Students – speaking on his entrepreneurial journey as a racialized lawyer – February 7, 2023
  4. Participated in the LCC Media Panel – Celebrating Black History Month: The Power of the Black Voice – February 14, 2023
  5. Participated in the WR GCWCC Closing Ceremony hosted by CRA on Feb. 16, 2023
  6. Guest Speaker at the Immigrant Champions Awards Gala – February 24, 2023
  7. Panel Speaker at Mount Royal University’s celebration of Black History Month – February 27, 2023
  8. Guest Speaker at BMO national event for Black History Month titled “Disrupt Yourself” – February 28, 2023
  9. Guest Speaker at the Black History Month event hosted by Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Counsel (CRIEC) on February 28, 2023.
  10. Convocation Speaker at the University of Calgary graduating class of medical Doctors, Academic Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses and Vet. Medicine on May 29, 2023 (pictures)
  11. Guest speaker at the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Career Accelerator Skills Development: “Establishing and Expanding Your Own Law firm” – July 18, 2023
  12. Keynote Speaker at Crown Mentorship Symposium at Platform Calgary – September 16, 2023 (pictures)
  13. Keynote speaker at the Canadian Association of Nigerian Lawyers in Toronto (pictures) – October 28, 2023
  14. November 17, 2023 – Guest Speaker, Thought Leadership Business School Live (pictures)
  15. Guest at the Visionary Voices podcast – November 17, 2023 (pictures)
  16. The FIDI team conducted a free webinar on what the program entails in conjunction with Ammar Ahmad and the Minister of Justice, Alberta (Mickey Amery).

In addition to the above activities and engagements in the community, Osuji & Smith continues to engage and volunteer in societies and associations to extend the frontiers of justice administration in Alberta, by offering pro-bono services, mentoring persons and programs that provide for access to justice at organic levels. The channels and benefiting groups to these services include, Alberta Law Society Lawyer Referral Service, Mentor Lead, Law Society of Alberta, volunteer with Pro Bono Alberta, Alberta Legal Aid, Free Legal Clinic at the Village Square, NE, Calgary, in collaboration with Aspen Family and Community Network Society, Mentorship through Calgary Immigrant Women Association (CIWA), Mentorship through Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Mentor, and membership of Board of Directors, Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC).

Osuji & Smith also sponsored several initiatives and events such as soccer tournaments, charitable fundraisers, church activities, etc.

Cases Won In 2023!

The legal team at Osuji & Smith continues to prove their prowess in the courtroom, with cases argued all the way to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The hundreds of positive Google reviews from satisfied clients make a case for the quality of work the legal team at Osuji & Smith generates in all areas of practice including employment, business, personal injury, divorce and family, probate, real estate and immigration. The significance of their legal work is exemplified by three groundbreaking cases they championed this year, 2023, not including a host of other settlements and resolution of client matters. These cases have led to pivotal discussions and decisions that continue to shape our case law, allowing Canadians to truly benefit from government policy and reinforcing their faith in our justice system.

Oostlander v Cervus Equipment Corporation, 2023 ABCA 13  

Alberta Court of Appeal also confirms CERB benefits cannot be deducted from wrongful dismissal damages, where, for the first time, the Court of Appeal of Alberta confirmed that payments received under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program (“CERB”) cannot be deducted from damages awarded for wrongful dismissal. The Court of Appeal also confirmed the Plaintiff’s award of 24 months’ severance, which was obtained via a summary trial in the Court of King’s Bench.

Wisser v CEM International Management Consultants Ltd., 2022 ABQB 414 

Here, the court determined that the oppression remedy under the Alberta Business Corporations Act (“ABCA”), could extend to imposing liability for wrongful dismissal damages upon directors and their newly formed company. Significant severance was awarded the Plaintiff against the Directors of CEM personally.

In Stonham v Recycling Worx Inc., 2023 ABKB 629 2023 ABKB 629 (CanLII) | Stonham v Recycling Worx Inc | CanLII, the Court settled the issues related to the test for resignation, abandonment and absenteeism under employment law.

Awards/Recognitions and Nominations in 2023

In recognition of his contributions to the legal profession and the community, Charles Osuji has quickly become one of the most decorated lawyers in Canada with one of the highest number of awards and recognitions. In 2023 alone, Charles and the firm added about 21 more awards and recognitions to their profile:

  1. Charles Osuji received the Late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal by the Honourable Minister of Justice and Alberta Government – April 28, 2023.
  2. Charles Osuji received the Alberta Newcomer Recognition Award for Inclusive Workplaces in recognition of the work I am doing with my non-for-profit Organization, Foot in the Door Initiative (FIDI).
  3. Charles won the 2023 Inclusive Leadership Award for promoting inclusion by Immigrant Champions Award
  4. Charles Osuji won the 2023 CHRR 5-Star Employment Lawyers Award
  5. Amanda Ovaici, a Senior Associate at Osuji & Smith, won the 2023 CHRR 5-Star Employment Lawyers Award
  6. Evan Oikawa, a former Senior Associate at Osuji & Smith, won the 2023 CHRR 5-Star Employment Lawyers Award while employed with Osuji & Smith
  7. Osuji & Smith won Top 10 Employment Law Firms in 2023 by Manage HR Canada Magazine
  8. Osuji & Smith won the 2023 Inclusive Organization Award by Immigrant Champions Awards
  9. Charles received the 2023 Black Icon Award by Nigerian IT Professionals of Canada (NIPCA)
  10. Osuji & Smith received the 2023 CHRR 5-Star Employment Lawyers Award
  11. Charles Osuji was nominated for the Alberta Law Society’s 2024 Distinguished Service Awards for promoting Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession.
  12. Osuji & Smith was nominated for the 2024 Business Legal Services and Employment Law Services in Calgary.
  13. Osuji & Smith won the 2023 Top Choice Awards for Business Legal Services
  14. Osuji & Smith won the Three Best Rated award for the 2023 best rated Employment Lawyers
  15. Osuji & Smith won the Three Best Rated award for the 2023 best rated Civil Litigation Lawyers
  16. Osuji & Smith won the Three Best Rated award for the 2023 best rated Business Lawyers
  17. Osuji & Smith won the Three Best Rated award for the 2023 best rated Estate Planning Lawyers
  18. Osuji & Smith won the Three Best Rated award for the 2023 best rated Divorce Lawyers
  19. Osuji & Smith won the 2023 Best Business in Canada by Canadian Business Review Board
  20. Osuji & Smith won 2023 Best Family Lawyers in Calgary;
  21. Osuji & Smith won 2023 Best Divorce Lawyers in Calgary.

As has been his tradition for the last 10 years, Charles ended the year 2023 with taking over 50 kids to the movies to watch Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on Christmas Eve! 2024 promises to be another year of growth, service, mentorship and excellence!