Hellenic Canadian Lawyers' Association


What We Do



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.



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 Karvanis 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. 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, and put 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 bringing awareness to matters material to the Hellenic Canadian community at large.


Since its inception, the HCLA has been dedicated to meeting its goals to network, educate and advocate. The HCLA has developed and maintained a number of annual social and educational events and programs, including the President’s Dinner, the Christmas Cheer, the Hellenic Professionals’ Gala (with our medical and dental colleagues), the Under 8 After 8 Socials, the Mentorship program, student events (including our student resume and interview workshops) and continuing professional development (CPD) seminars.

To further our commitment to supporting lawyers of Hellenic descent in Canada, the HCLA awards scholarships to law students, including our standing Justice Andromache Karakatsanis Student Scholarship and other special scholarships, including the First Year Law Student Scholarship.

The HCLA is an active member of the Roundtable of Diversity Associations (RODA), an umbrella organization founded in 2011 that brings together a coalition of equity-seeking Canadian legal associations with the goal of fostering dialogue and promoting initiatives relating to the advancement of diversity, equality and inclusion in the legal profession, the judiciary and within the broader legal community.

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.

Download HCLA Constitution

Executive Committee

Christine Arruda photo

President: Christine Arruda

Christine is Senior Counsel at Royal Bank of Canada.  She advises on a broad range of securities and corporate/commercial law matters, as well as regulatory and cross-border matters related to RBC’s Canadian Wealth Management business.  Prior to joining RBC, Christine was Vice-President, Legal and Chief Compliance Officer for the Canadian affiliate of a U.S. based investment fund manager where she was responsible for all legal, regulatory and governance matters related to the firm and its investment fund management, advisory and distribution.  Christine has advised on numerous transactions including the formation and structuring of public and private investment funds, and has experience in private company mergers and acquisitions. Christine is a past member of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Registrant Advisory Committee and has served on various committees of The Investment Funds Institute of Canada and Portfolio Management Association of Canada. Christine has earned a Master in Business Administration and has served as President of the HCLA since 2022.


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Vice-President: Sam Presvelos

Sam Presvelos is a civil litigation lawyer based in Toronto, Ontario. Sam graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, where he won prizes for high academic achievements in Real Estate and Corporate Law. He articled at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and subsequently started his own practice. Sam has successfully litigated cases at all levels of court in Ontario and has appeared before the Federal Court of Canada. The results that Sam has obtained for his clients, in and out of court, has earned him the recognition as one of Toronto’s Top 100 Lawyers (2021 and 2022) by Post Magazine.

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Treasurer: Steve Lyberopoulos

Steve Lyberopoulos is an associate at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal. Steve practices corporate law in the field of mergers & acquisitions, with a particular focus on private equity and cross-border transactions. Before entering the legal world, Steve worked in the sports industry and earned a Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business. During his studies at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, Steve was elected President of the Law Students’ Association and represented McGill and Canada at national and international negotiation competitions.

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Secretary / Student Director: Alexandra Psellas

Alexandra Psellas is an associate in Gowling WLG’s Toronto office, practicing in the firm’s advocacy department. Her practice covers a wide variety of commercial litigation matters, including corporate/commercial disputes, class action defence, construction litigation, and securities and cryptocurrency litigation. Alexandra attended law school at Western University, where she served as a managing editor for the Western Journal of Legal Studies and represented the interests of community members through her work at Western’s Community Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra acts an HCLA representative to the Roundtable of Diversity Associations (“RODA”) and joined the HCLA Board of Directors in 2022.

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Social Director: Agapi Mavridis

Agapi Mavridis is an Assistant Crown Attorney with the Durham Crown Attorney’s Office. Agapi attended law school at the University of Manitoba, and was called to the bar in 2018. She articled with the Policy Division at the Ministry of the Attorney General, and worked primarily on the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017. Outside of practicing law, Agapi volunteers with the Cretans Association of Toronto “Knossos”, implementing their scholarship program for post-secondary students. Prior to attending law school, Agapi worked with the Government of Ontario as a policy analyst, and is a graduate of the Masters of Public Policy and Administration program at Ryerson University.

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Membership Director: James Trougakos

James Trougakos is an associate at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, where he is developing a broad tax practice. He assists clients on a range of tax matters, including tax planning and dispute resolution before the tax authorities. Prior to joining Davies, James served as a judicial law clerk at the Tax Court of Canada. While attending law school at McGill University, James volunteered at the McGill Legal Information Clinic.

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Communications Director: Danielle Tavernese

Danielle Tavernese is an associate at Miller Thomson LLP.  Her practice encompasses a wide range of family law, including domestic contracts, equalization and complex asset division. She regularly advocates on behalf of her clients before the Ontario and Superior Court of Justice, notably in relation to high conflict disputes. Danielle graduated from the University of Ottawa French Common Law Program in 2019 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2020. During law school, Danielle worked as a caseworker in the Family Law Clinic, and advocated for her fellow law students on the board of the Common Law Student Society.  Danielle received the Justice Andromache Karakatsanis Student Scholarship in 2018. She has sat on the HCLA Gala Committee for several years, and joined the HCLA board of directors in 2021.

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Community Relations Director: Niki Kanavas

Niki is a civil litigator in Toronto with a practice focused on corporate/commercial contracts, property and construction disputes.  Prior to opening her practice in 2018 she worked with a boutique litigation firm, completed a Masters in Law with a dissertation focused on comparative public policy and pharmaceutical law, and worked with the public service.  She has been teaching law part-time for the last eight years, and is the Assistant Program Coordinator (Paralegal) at Seneca College, Faculty of Continuing Education.


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Honourary Director: Gina Alexandris

Gina began her membership with the HCLA as an articling student, served in various Executive roles, including President, and recently as Honorary Director. For 30 years, Gina has been inspiring and supporting individuals and organizations to strategically define their hopes and achieve their goals. She is currently a Speaker and Career Coach, certified with the International Coaching Federation.  Her past innovative leadership roles include: Senior Program Director of the Law Practice Program at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson); Advisor for the development and launch of the Lincoln Alexander School of Law; Director, Strategic Planning and Knowledge Management for the Legal Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario; Director of the Internationally Trained Lawyers Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law; at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, first as Director of Career Services, followed by nine years as the Assistant Dean of Student Services. Following her graduation from Osgoode Hall Law School, Gina began her legal career practicing family law and civil litigation in Toronto. Gina is passionate about personal and professional development, diversity and inclusion and developing strong relationships and networks.

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Honourary Director: George Bougadis

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.

Honourary Director: Tom Karvanis

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 Karayannides, Q.Arb photo

Honourary Director: George Karayannides, Q.Arb

George is an experienced advocate.  He represents clients in litigation and arbitration (domestic and international) on a wide range of complex and high-stake business disputes, including class actions, and regularly works with foreign counsel on cross-border issues. Prior to joining Clyde & Co Canada LLP as a partner in 2014, he was the head of the Toronto litigation department of a leading national Canadian law firm. Since his call to the bar in 1986, he has represented various businesses, leading multinational companies, individuals, and government bodies in the financial, energy, transportation, telecommunications, manufacturing, infrastructure, and construction sectors.

George has been recognized by Lexpert® as a leading corporate and commercial litigator, and as a leading practitioner by Best Lawyers in the following categories: corporate and commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He has also been recognized by Lexpert® as a leading US/Canada cross-border litigator and infrastructure lawyer. George holds a Qualified Arbitrator designation from the ADR Institute of Canada.  He is a frequent speaker on emerging legal issues, as well as an advocacy skills instructor. George currently sits on Clyde & Co’s Canadian Board and on the Executive Committee of the Toronto Commercial Arbitration Society.



Member Volunteers:

Melinda Marghetis (Student Committee)

Gabriella Panayotidis (Pro Bono Committee / Student Initiatives)

Phillip Paschali (Pro Bono Committee / Student Initiatives)

Thalia Petsis (Student Initiatives)

Sotiri Katsuras (Student Initiatives)

Christina Papageorgakopoulos (Student Initiatives)


Past Presidents:

2019-2022 Francie Smirnakis
2017-2019 Kosta Kalogiros
2014-2017 Angela Nikolakakos
2012-2014 Nikiforos Iatrou
2010-2012 Eleni Damianakis
2008-2010 Jim Vavitsas
2006-2008 John J Salmas
2004-2006 George Bougadis
2001-2003 John Polyzogopoulos
1999-2001 Peter Carayiannis
1998-1999 John Papadakis
1997-1998 John Sotirakos
1995-1997 Gina Alexandris
1993-1995 Greg Kanargelidis
1991-1993 Louis Alexopoulos
1990-1991 Constantine Grimanis