Ryan Newell became a lawyer in order to fight for social justice. His days are now spent living out that goal, by enforcing the rights of trade unions and workers and advancing the rights and title of Indigenous peoples.
Ryan represents trade unions in a wide variety of industries in a broad range of disputes. He approaches his clients’ problems with a curiosity about their unique workplace reality, whether it be a factory, a construction site, or a cubicle. He provides advice and representation to unions as they organize new workplaces, engage in collective bargaining, and enforce their collective agreements. He approaches every dispute with an eye for detail, a radar for creative solutions, and a readiness to litigate. He has represented trade unions at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”), the Grievance Settlement Board, the Human Rights Tribunal, and in grievance arbitration.
His victories at the OLRB include helping to certify a homeless shelter and helping to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for violations of a construction industry collective agreement. His victories in private grievance arbitration include obtaining a wage increase for dispatchers whose employer required that they assume a whole host of new duties and protecting the duties of Registered Practical Nurses from being transferred outside of the bargaining unit.
Ryan also acts for individual employees in their workplace disputes, including those who have been terminated without cause. During and after law school, he volunteered for years at the Workers’ Action Centre, helping to enforce the rights of non-unionized workers.
In addition to his labour and employment law practice, Ryan represents Indigenous Peoples in advancing their rights and title. His main focus in this regard is as a member of our team representing the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in a rights and title claim covering 48,000 square kilometres of northeastern Ontario. Before going to law school, he studied the history of Canadian colonialism and became involved in Indigenous solidarity activism. Since then, he has published articles challenging the narrow definition of the “rule of law” that courts have applied in their approach to Indigenous land disputes, and arguing that the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences must be assessed in light of the well-established connections between colonialism and the over-incarceration of Indigenous people. He is grateful for the opportunity to use his legal skills to advocate for justice for Indigenous people within the colonial legal system.
When he’s not litigating or playing an elaborate imaginary game with his two young kids, you may find Ryan running long distances or listening to his ever-expanding collection of vinyl records.