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BMO General Counsel Honoured

Simon Fish Named Among Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 5, 2014) - BMO's top lawyer, Simon Fish, was named to Canadian Lawyer Magazine's list of Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada. Finalists were determined in an industry-wide vote by members of the Canadian legal profession who assessed candidates on several criteria, including their contribution to the strength and quality of legal services as well as their social and political influence and involvement.

Mr. Fish, who is EVP and General Counsel at BMO, was recognized in the Corporate Commercial category. Judges noted that Mr. Fish "is reshaping the external counsel relationship model, encouraging greater diversity and being a leader in sustainability."

"Our ability to deliver on BMO's core commitments - transparency, accountability, fairness and good governance - is determined by the personal values of our employees," said Bill Downe, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. "This award is testament to Simon's exceptional leadership and to our firm belief that corporate responsibility and personal responsibility are inextricably linked."

Mr. Fish is a passionate promoter of diversity and inclusion. He serves as BMO Financial Group's Executive Diversity Champion and is Co-Chair of the Bank's enterprise-wide Diversity Renewal Council. He is also Chair of BMO's Legal Diversity Council, which was the first employee-led Diversity Council of a corporate area at BMO.

In 2013, under his guidance, BMO became one of the first Canadian financial institutions to ask its external law firms to report the diversity statistics of their workforce as a criterion for being considered to deliver legal services to the bank. Mr. Fish is encouraging other corporations to make similar disclosure requests of their legal service providers and to work together using a consistent approach.

"I am privileged to have a very unique opportunity in my role as General Counsel, to work with very talented and committed individuals - within BMO and within the legal community at large - to advance the profession's commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and to drive change in the areas of sustainability and diversity within our profession and the bank itself," said Mr. Fish.

"As one of the largest financial institutions in North America, BMO has the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers, our employees and other stakeholders. For everything we aspire to be for them, we place, most highly, our responsibility for helping improve the quality of life for people in the communities where we live and work. This has been a foundational principle that motivates and guides all of us at BMO," he said.

For more about the awards:


  • Simon Fish, 2013 Canadian General Counsel of the Year Award - recognizing leadership excellence in the profession and role in the bank's business performance.

  • Mr. Fish is also Chair of the bank's Sustainability Council, a management-level body that provides insight and guidance on sustainability issues impacting the bank. The team spearheaded the creation of the Environmental, Social and Governance Report (ESG) and Public Accountability Statement detailing how BMO manages the environmental, social and governance impacts of its business. The ESG scorecard is innovative and transparent in the disclosure of the bank's key sustainability metrics.

  • BMO and the Legal Group were recognized with the 2013 Social Responsibility Award for the significant work within the bank itself and within the broader legal community, to drive change in the areas of sustainability and diversity.

  • BMO's Legal Group is a leader in the representation of women at senior levels and a pioneer in setting specific, measurable goals for the hiring and retention of minorities in senior roles throughout the enterprise - 56% of women in Legal Group are in senior roles; 42% of Legal Group senior leaders are women; 20% of visible minorities at Legal Group are in senior roles with a goal of 26% by 2016.

  • Last year, Mr. Fish advised BMO's Board of Directors on a new board diversity policy, which it adopted. The policy commits BMO to board composition in which each gender comprises no less than one-third of the independent directors. BMO is also a signatory of the Catalyst Accord.

  • BMO's success in managing sustainability issues has earned it a position on key sustainability indices, including:

    • Global 100 - a list of the most sustainable corporations in the world. BMO is highest-ranked North American financial institution on the list.
    • Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index
    • Jantzi Social Index
    • FTSE4Good Series Index BMO
    • Maclean's/Jantzi-Sustainalytics list of the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada
    • Corporate Knights Magazine's Best 50 Corporate Citizens

  • Simon serves on the board of the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Policy. Recently, the Centre honoured Simon by establishing an Ethics Case Award in his name.

  • Simon is an advisory board member for Lawyers International Food Enterprise (LIFE). LIFE is an organization of lawyers with the mission to raise awareness among members of the legal profession with respect to child poverty around the world.

  • Mr. Fish is a founding member of the Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of 70 Canadian General Counsel who have declared their support and commitment for creating a more inclusive legal profession as well as supporting diversity initiatives within each member's organization.

  • He has also been an active member of the Association of Canadian General Counsel for 14 years and has served as a director of the Association three times during that period.

  • For ten years Simon has been an active member and vocal supporter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) which includes hosting and participating in numerous CLO Think-Tanks, contributing to the ACC's Corporate Counsel Institute Legal Practices Profile and the ACC Value Challenge, and aiding in the establishment of Canadian chapters.
For further information:
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