276 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
Next, Nitya articled at Tory, Tory, DesLauriers & Binnington (now Torys
LLP) in Toronto. Following that she went to Harvard (as did Rob) where she
obtained her LL.M. While at Harvard, Nitya was admired for her courage
and directness. Nitya once asked renowned legal philosopher Roberto
Unger why he was incapable of explaining his ideas more simply, since
nothing could be as complicated as he portrayed it. He had no answer. At
least none that anyone could understand.
Nitya’s family has no idea how well she did at Harvard as she and her best
friend (Sarah) decided not to collect their grades. They reasoned that, if
there was a problem, surely they would be told. Silence followed on this
front, but things must have been going well because Nitya was offered a faculty
position at the University of Toronto well before she completed her
studies. Rob believes this was on the recommendation of Nitya’s Harvard
supervisor, Martha Minow, who later became dean of Harvard Law School.
Nitya was delighted to be offered the position, but there was a problem.
She was interested in a young professor at the University of British Columbia
(yes, Rob), and it was time for the two of them to be in the same city.
She encouraged Rob to apply to be a visiting professor at the University of
Toronto. This set off a chain of events that culminated in the dean of the
Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, Robert Pritchard, meeting over
dinner with the dean of the Faculty of Law at UBC, Peter Burns, Q.C., to
determine the young couple’s fate, something like a hockey draft. At the
end of the evening it was agreed that Rob could spend one year at the University
of Toronto as a visitor, but only if Nitya agreed to come to UBC the
following year, which she did. While at UBC, Nitya taught constitutional
law, human rights and equality law, and family law. She never left Vancouver.
And so, as so often happens, the force that set her on the path to her
current appointment was not careful planning, iron will, or assiduous
preparation, but a simple dinner, to which she was not even invited.
Nitya quickly became widely recognized as an expert on human rights
and equality. Her prize-winning legal work came to the attention of both
the National Judicial Institute and the Canadian Judicial Council in 1990.
She became one of only a handful of academics asked to participate in
designing and presenting education programs for judges on the subject.
In 1997 Nitya was appointed to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, where
over the course of four years she adjudicated many significant human
rights cases. In March 2001 she joined Heenan Blaikie as a partner, where
she practised labour and employment law, specializing in human rights,
pay and employment equity, constitutional law and administrative law. In
September 2011 she joined the firm of Lovett Westmacott, where she con-