If you ask any lawyer at The Ross Firm “who’s the best lawyer in the shop,” the answer is Heather Joy Ross. Disciplined, ethically rigorous and highly intelligent, she is the definition of the consummate advocate. Throughout her career Heather has been prepared, knowledgeable and determined. This approach earned her the reputation as a “go to” lawyer in the region for men and women alike. Spouses often raced to retain Heather after their relationship broke down. Whether this was because they wanted her on their side or to avoid having her against them, is a matter of some debate. It is this reputation and approach that forms the foundation of The Ross Firm today.
Heather has been a leader in her profession virtually from her first day at law school: she was a mentor to fellow students, and the recipient of three academic awards. As a practicing lawyer, Heather tackled issues of domestic abuse and gender inequality and broke new ground when both subjects were not in the forefront of legal and judicial thinking. Heather describes herself as a warrior, and says that being a lawyer gave her the tools to help make change, particularly for women and girls in our society. However, her passion and big-picture thinking are larger than her legal practice. The original work she did to help establish safe houses for women in Huron County led to the creation of the Huron Women’s Shelter in Goderich. She’s a founder of South West Region Women’s Law Association. Throughout her career and to the present she is a mentor to women lawyers, helping them realize their professional and personal aspirations.
As an academic, Heather was an adjunct professor of law, designing and teaching courses in ethics and family law practice and procedure at her alma mater, the Faculty of Law at The University of Western Ontario. Heather was elected as a Bencher (a governor) of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1999. She has contributed significantly to the regulation of the legal profession in Ontario, particularly in her work at the Law Society on the redrafting of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the creation of the standing committee on Equity and Aboriginal Issues, her service on the Human Rights Monitoring Group, and taking on an adjudicative role in lawyer and paralegal disciplinary hearings. Three subsequent elections resulted in her being granted the honour of “Life Bencher”.
An engaged and insightful jurist, Heather shared her skills sitting as a Superior Court of Justice Deputy Judge of the Small Claims Court. Her last role at The Ross Firm was that of General Counsel. She provided sage and cogent advice to the firm and its lawyers on matters of ethics, professional responsibility and practice management.
On December 8, 2020, she was awarded the Law Society Medal – given for outstanding service within the profession to lawyers who have made a significant contribution to the profession, in accordance with the highest ideals of the legal profession.
When she’s not mentoring or leading, Heather finds satisfaction in creative outlets like interior design, and painting. In many ways, both personally and professionally, Heather has made the whole world her canvas.