Angela Swan is nothing short of a venerated celebrity in both Canadian contract law and the Canadian legal community at large. With over fifty years of experience in the legal profession, Swan has expertly filled a number of roles from professor to esteemed counsel. An award-winning author, renowned educator, and frequently cited scholar, Swan embodies what it means to be a jack of all trades in the field of law. As a result of her years of noted passion and drive, Swan is regarded as one of the most distinguished experts in Canadian contract law.
Swan graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1963 with an LLB after first completing a Bachelor of Commerce. She went on to receive a BCL from the University of Oxford in 1965. Swan returned to Canada and began to teach in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto where she served as an Assistant, Associate, and full Professor (1965-1988). Swan has also taught at McGill University, University of Victoria, and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University where she continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor. It comes as no surprise to find Swan’s name frequently mentioned by other notable legal professionals as they recall their own fond memories as former students of Swan.
Called to the Ontario Bar in 1970, Swan rigorously tackled the legal market practicing at McCarthy Tétrault and Stikeman Elliott. The wealth of knowledge accumulated over the course of her legal career in both contracts and corporate law shapes and informs Swan’s current role as Counsel at Aird Berlis LLP in Toronto.
A noted scholar, Swan has authored two monographs, over four dozen articles, and a number of compelling blog entries. Her book Contract Law (2006) received the Walter Owen Book Prize in 2007 which recognizes excellent legal writing and significant contributions to the evolution of Canadian legal doctrine. More importantly, the Supreme Court of Canada frequently turns to Swan’s work as a respected source of information, relying on her keen understanding of Canadian contract law to justify groundbreaking decisions. For example, in the 2014 Bhasin v Hrynew decision, a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada recognized an organizing principle of good faith and honest performance in Canadian contract law, relying on Swan’s scholarship as support for this innovative ruling.
As a proud and vocal trans-woman, Swan is an inspiration for the LGBTQ community. Her esteemed career and courageous tenacity demonstrate the strides made in regard to a more diverse legal landscape. In reflecting on her coming out experience at the 17th annual Pride Week Celebration hosted by Law Society of Ontario, Swan graciously commented, “The future is a lot less dark than we think.” In both her scholarship and advocacy Swan continues to exemplify the call for diversification and equality in Canadian law.
In January 2019 the Law Society of Ontario presented Swan with an honorary Doctor of Laws, celebrating her notable career and endless contributions to the Canadian legal profession.