The HCLA maintains a reliable network of lawyers, judges and law students of Hellenic origin. In addition to creating professional opportunities, this network serves as a platform for members to knowledge share.
The HCLA provides and participates in ongoing educational programs, seminars and courses with a view to promote legal education in the Hellenic Canadian community.
The HCLA works to create, stimulate and increase public awareness of matters relating to the Hellenic Canadian community.
Over 25 years ago, on November 9, 1990, lawyers of Hellenic heritage in Canada gathered at the Offices of the Canadian Bar Association in Toronto to revive and reinvigorate the Hellenic Canadian Law Association (now the Hellenic Canadian Lawyers’ Association), an association originally founded by Hellenic Canadian lawyers including Tom Karavanis and Madame Justice Andromache Karakatsanis.
Ten lawyers were elected at that time to form the Board of Directors and, at their first meeting a month later, the Board appointed Constantine Grimanis as the first President of the HCLA. Serving as officers and directors were: Katherine Kavassalis (Vice-President), Louis Alexopoulos (Secretary), Greg Kanargelidis (Treasurer), Constantine Alexiou, Speros Kanellos, Bill Tsapralis, William Tatsiou, and Rita Vassilopoulos.
The HCLA’s Constitution was drafted and ratified in, putting into motion the Association’s goals of, among other things, strengthening bonds within the Hellenic Canadian legal community, promoting and advancing the well-being and education of the Hellenic Canadian legal community, increasing public understanding of the legal profession and awareness of matters material to the Hellenic Canadian community at large.
Since then, the HCLA has developed and maintained a number of annual social and educational events and programs, including: the President’s Dinner, the Christmas Cheer, our annual student event, the Professionals Gala (with our medical and dental colleagues), the Under 8 After 8 Socials, our student resume and interview workshops, the Mentor program, and other miscellaneous educational seminars. In furtherance of its commitment to advancing Hellenic lawyers in Canada, the HCLA has proudly awarded over $65,000 through the Justice Andromache Karakatsanis Student Scholarship (assisting 32 students in the process).
The HCLA remains committed to advancing and strengthening the Hellenic Canadian legal community so its members may continue to attain new heights of professional success and achievement.
Francesca Smirnakis is Senior Counsel supporting RBC’s Canadian Wealth Management and Mutual Fund Distribution businesses, including full-service and discount investment dealers, retail mutual fund dealers and discretionary portfolio managers.
Prior to joining RBC, Francesca’s practice focused on supporting asset management businesses at another financial institution and prior to that, at a large Bay Street law firm. She also has experience in debt capital markets and M&A in the investment management industry.
Francesca previously served as Vice-President, Treasurer, Social Director and Student Director on the HCLA Board. She was awarded an HCLA student scholarship while at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Voula is a partner at FCL LLP and practises exclusively in civil defence litigation with a focus on municipal, professional errors and omissions and Directors’ and Officers’ liability, including class actions. Voula has successfully appeared as counsel at all levels of court in Ontario and various administrative tribunals, including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. She has recently contributed to the Annual Review of Civil Litigation with an article on civil sexual assault. Voula has been a member of the HCLA for many years and a proud recipient of the Student Scholarship in 2005.
Trish Vrotsos is Lead Real Estate Legal Counsel at Metro Ontario Inc. Trish practices commercial real estate law with specific experience in acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, development, property operation matters and franchising. Prior to joining Metro in 2017, Trish worked for a number of years in private practice in the areas of real estate and corporate and commercial law. Trish has been serving as the HCLA’s Treasurer since 2018 and has been an active member for several years.
Kosta is a partner in the litigation group at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, where he maintains a broad litigation practice. Kosta joined the HCLA as a student member and has served on the Board of Directors since 2014. Kosta volunteers in the Mentor Program and maintains a number of informal mentor relationships with student and junior members of the HCLA. Kosta acted as President from 2017 to 2019, prior to which he served as the Association’s Vice President. Prior to practicing, Kosta attended Osgoode Hall Law School.
Victoria Asikis is an associate at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP in Ottawa, practising in the Business Law Group. Victoria’s practice focuses on advertising, commercial and regulatory law respecting consumer products, including foods, beverages, cosmetics and natural health products. Prior to joining Gowling WLG, Victoria worked in Toronto practicing primarily in corporate, commercial, business and intellectual property law.
Yonida practiced litigation in Athens, Greece, with a focus on plaintiff-side tort claims. She holds LL.B. and LL.M. degrees from Democritus University of Thrace and, more recently, an LL.M. degree from Osgoode PD in Intellectual Property and Business Law. While at Osgoode, she acted as an IPilogue Editor, focusing on technology and data-related legal issues, and co-published two peer-reviewed health and biotech-related articles. She recently completed her Law Practice Program placement focusing on corporate/commercial and IP law, and was called to the Ontario Bar in June 2020.
Chloe is an Associate at Lenczner Slaght where she is developing experience in commercial and professional liability matters. She also volunteers at Pro Bono Ontario’s clinic at 393 University. Prior to joining Lenczner Slaght, Chloe attended law school at the University of Toronto. While in law school, she was a volunteer at Downtown Legal Services, and the Pro Bono Law Ontario Office at Sickkids. Chloe also worked in Iqaluit where she contributed to an access to justice initiative. Chloe recently joined the HCLA, and began serving on the Board of Directors in 2018.
Katerina Maragos completed her articles at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and will be returning as an Associate in the Corporate Commercial Group with a focus in Indigenous and energy law. While working at BLG, Katerina was seconded to both RBC and BMO. Currently, Katerina is an elected executive of the OBA’s Aboriginal Law Section and is a Co-Editor of the HCLA’s Legalese. In 2019, Katerina graduated from Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law where she interned at the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, established Lakehead’s Pro Bono Students Canada chapter and participated in the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Moot, among other activities. Katerina received the HCLA’s Jim Vavitsas Memorial Scholarship in 2018, and is dedicated to the mentorship of students within the Greek legal community and beyond.
Gina began her membership with the HCLA as an articling student, served in various Executive roles, including President, and is excited about returning as an Honorary Director.
For over 20 years, Gina has been inspiring and supporting individuals and organizations to strategically define their hopes and achieve their goals. As the Senior Program Director of Ryerson’s Law Practice Program, Gina is responsible for the development, implementation and general management of the new innovative transition year training program for licensing Candidates in Ontario. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring academic excellence and the quality of service and program delivery for participants, and outreach to hundreds of contributing members of the legal profession. Gina has also been actively involved with the development of Ryerson’s proposal for its new innovative law school.
With a passion for adult education, leadership and diversity, she completed her Masters of Education in 2012 and received her Coaching Certification in 2017.
Gina developed and directed the award-winning Internationally Trained Lawyers Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and spent more than 12 years with Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, first as Director of Career Services, followed by nine years as the Assistant Dean of Student Services. Between 2013 and 2014, Gina was the Director, Strategic Planning and Knowledge Management for the Legal Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Following her graduation from Osgoode Hall Law School, Gina began her legal career practicing family law and civil litigation in Toronto, Canada.
She is a proud Greek-Canadian soccer mom living with her family in Toronto.
Christopher specializes in administrative law and civil litigation, with an emphasis on municipal and expropriation law, land use planning and development, and the regulation of professional organizations.
Chris represents provincial ministries, municipalities, and a wide range of private clients. He also acts as counsel to a number of professional organizations. He appears regularly before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and other administrative tribunals, Councils and committees. He has appeared at every level of court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Chris has authored many papers and is a frequent speaker on expropriation, land use planning and development, and issues relating to the regulation of professional organizations.
Eleni Damianakis is Vice-President, Associate General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited where she is advises the company and its board of directors on corporate and securities law as well as governance matters. Prior to joining Canadian Tire in 2008, Eleni served as Associate Vice-President, Senior Legal Counsel and Assistant Secretary at Sears Canada Inc. She began her legal career at McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Toronto where she practiced in commercial real estate. Eleni is a past President of the HCLA and has served as a mentor in the HCLA’s Mentorship Program.
Tom was a founding member of the law firm of Sotos, Karvanis (now known as Sotos LLP) in downtown Toronto on his call to the bar in 1982. His legal practice concentrated on commercial and matrimonial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He was recognized by L’Expert as a leading practitioner in franchise litigation. He led the litigation team of Sotos Karvanis and was responsible for the recruiting and mentoring of associate lawyers. Tom was a frequent speaker to community and legal groups on a range of subjects such as litigation, corporate governance and the latest developments in technology for lawyers.
Tom has a strong commitment to participating in the community. Among other activities, he helped establish the Hellenic Canadian Federation of Ontario and the Hellenic Canadian Congress. After his retirement in 1999 due to multiple sclerosis, he volunteered in organizations such as Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology where he served in various capacities including Chair of its Board of Governors during a critical period for the organization. Since 2005, Tom has served as an Honourary Director of the HCLA. He was one of the founders of the HCLA in its original form in the 1980’s and was responsible for reviving it in 1990. Tom is a strong believer in the HCLA and a strong advocate of its mentorship program.
George is a Partner at Clyde & Co. He is an experienced advocate who represents clients in litigation and arbitration on a wide-range of complex and high-stakes business disputes, including class actions. George has represented a wide range of businesses, leading multinational companies, individuals and government bodies in the energy, transport, telecommunications, infrastructure and construction and financial sectors. He has significant experience before Federal and Provincial Courts, as well as before arbitral (domestic and international) and administrative tribunals. George regularly works with foreign counsel on cross-border issues and disputes.
George is ranked by Lexpert® as a leading Corporate and Commercial Litigator in Canada, and is listed as a Leading Practitioner in Canada by the peer-reviewed Best Lawyers in the areas of Corporate and Commercial Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. He is also recognized by Lexpert® as a Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Litigator and Infrastructure Lawyer. George holds a Martindale-Hubbell, Distinguished rating. He is a frequent speaker on emerging legal issues, as well as an advocacy skills instructor.
John Yiokaris is a partner at Sotos LLP. He leads the firm’s automotive sector practice, drawing on his considerable experience working as lead counsel for one of Canada’s largest automotive manufacturers and numerous dealers. John is also a registered trademark agent and has extensive knowledge of intellectual property issues.
He is also an experienced practitioner in the restaurant, grocery, hotel, real estate and professional services sectors, advising businesses at every stage of franchising system development. John has particular expertise in the work out of distressed franchisees and in structuring transfers in the best interests of the franchise system. A significant portion of John’s practice is dedicated to providing strategic commercial advice on complex franchise defaults and disputes, enforcements, and terminations.
John was awarded the Lexology 2019 Client Choice Award for Franchising in Ontario and is consistently listed in Chambers Canada, the Canadian Legal LEXPERT Directory, and Who’s Who Legal: Canada as a leading Canadian franchise law practitioner.
George is an experienced civil trial lawyer and founding partner of the downtown Toronto litigation boutique: Bougadis, Chang LLP Barristers. George joined HCLA as a student member, served on the Board of Directors for eight years, was elected as President from 2004 to 2006, volunteers in the Mentor Program, participates in the National Lawyer Referral Program, and was invited to act as an Honourary Director in 2013. He has also been a member of the Hellenic Canadian Board of Trade for more than a decade.