Clare Burns is an experienced litigator who acts in complex and highly sensitive matters. Her practice focuses on trusts, estates and capacity litigation. In 2014, Clare received the Lexpert Zenith Award for her demonstrated excellence and thought leadership in trusts and estates.

She served as the Children’s Lawyer for the Province of Ontario from 2003 to 2008 pursuant to an Order-in-Council appointment.

As the Children’s Lawyer, Clare’s office was responsible to investigate, advocate, protect and represent persons under the age of 18 in proceedings before the courts and tribunals of Ontario. In this role, she supervised more than 11,000 cases including variations of trust, will challenges, passings of accounts, guardianships and all kinds of dependant’s relief matters. She also developed expertise in personal injury matters.

As the Children’s Lawyer, Clare appeared in the Ontario Superior Court and the Court of Appeal for Ontario on behalf of children. Notably she was counsel for the child in A. (A.) v. B. (B.), the case which determined that a child could have more than two parents.

Prior to her appointment as the Children’s Lawyer, Clare’s private practice was restricted to civil litigation. She appeared at the Ontario Superior Court (including many appearances at the Estates List), the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada and on various matters dealt with by way of ADR both in Ontario and internationally, pursuant to ICC Rules.

Significant commercial litigation briefs included: Bank of Montreal ats Bourgeois (concerning allegations related to the operation of the Bank’s managed futures business), Nesbitt Burns Inc. ats Ukrainain (Fort William) Credit Union Limited (concerning allegations of negligent derivates trading); Exxon Chemical Company ats Lubrizol (motor oil patent infringement); and Lurgi AG ats Cominco (concerning allegations of negligent construction of a lead smelter).

Significant briefs in trust and estate litigation included: acting for estate trustees on passings of accounts seeking approval of commercial transactions involving assets with a value in excess of Cdn $1 billion; and acting for a major trust corporation defending allegations that it failed to obtain an adequate rate of return on trustee investments.

In the three years prior to her appointment as the Children’s Lawyer, Clare was designated by Lexpert as a Leading Practitioner of Estate Litigation.

Outside the firm, she is actively engaged in the profession and broader community. She has been a Director of The Advocates’ Society and Vice President of the National Association of Public Trustees and Guardians. Clare has taught estates, children’s law and trial advocacy at the University of Toronto Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School and Western University Law School.

Clare has spoken widely in a variety of venues and has published many professional papers. She is a Past Director of World Literacy of Canada and About Face Craniofacial Family Society. She received an Ontario Volunteer Award in 2002.

Orfus Estate (Re) (2010), 62 ETR (3d) 290 (Ont SC)
A (A) v B (B) (2007) 220 OA C115
Bhandari v Bhandari 2004 Carswell Ont 4918 (Ont CA)
Dabirian v Dabirian (2004), 193 OA C193
Simone v Cheifetz (2000) 137 OA C193
Re Thomson Kernaghan & Co (2003), 50 CBR (4th) 287 (Ont SC)
Headway Property Investments 78-1 In. v Edgecombe Properties Ltd 1998 CarswellOnt 2655 (Ont CA)
Bourgeois v Bank of Montreal 2002 CarswellOnt 1225 (Ont SC)
Ukrainian (Fort William) Credit Union Ltd v Nesbitt, Burns Ltd 104 OAC 273
Re Hicks Estate 2002 CarswellOnt 1163 (Ont SC)
Wilson v Simeunovich 2000 CarswellOnt 2436 (Ont SC)
Blatchford (Litigation guardian of) v Blatchford Estate; (1999) 45 OR (3d) 784 (Ont SC)
Re Phelan (1999) 29 ET. (2d) 82 (Ont SC)
Wallace v Laurentian Heights Ltd 1999 Carswell Ont 986 (Ont SC)
Laird v Mulholland (1998), 21 ETR (2d) 204 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Pet Valu Canada Inc v Thorsteinssons (1996), 48 CPC (3d) 332 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Re Maria Brown Trust (1995), 8 ETR, (2d) 197 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Morgan v Hoogovens Technical Services Canada Inc (1994), 5 WDCP (2d) 334 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Dunn v Dunn Estate (1992), 9 OR (3d) 95 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
620637 Ontario Ltd. v Axton 1992 CarswellOnt 2266 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Rothwell Corp v Amstel Brewery Canada Ltd (1991) 6 OR (3d) 651 (Ont Ct (Gen Div))
Adler v Ontario [1996] 3 SCR 609

  • Repeatedly recognized by Chambers HNW: The World’s Leading High Net Worth Advisors as a leading lawyer in the top category in the Private Wealth Disputes – Canada category
  • Recognized as a leading lawyer in the Private Client category in Who’s Who Legal: Canada (2022)
  • Recognized as one of the 2019 Toronto “Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers in Canada for her work in the area of Trusts and Estates
  • Repeatedly recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada as a leading lawyer in Trusts and Estates
  • Repeatedly recognized in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in Estate & Personal Tax Planning (Estate Litigation)
  • Lexpert Zenith Award for excellence in Estate and Tax Planning, 2014
  • TEP (Trusts & Estates Professional) Designation , STEP Canada
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto Law School (Estates)
  • Executive Member, OBA Trusts and Estates Section
Called to the Bar
  • Ontario (1991)

  • LL.B., Osgoode Hall Law School, 1988
  • LL.M., London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, 1990
  • ADR Certificate of Achievement, University of Windsor/Stitt Feld Handy Group, 2009
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • The Advocates Society
  • The ADR Institute of Ontario Inc.
  • French

Speaking Engagements

Chair, "The Difficult Witness", Dealing With Difficult People Series, The Advocates’ Society, Online, October 19, 2021
Speaker, "23rd National Conference", Step Canada, Online, June 14 and June 15, 2021
Speaker, "Tackling Financial Abuse of Elders", The Osgoode Certificate in Elder Law, Online, April 21, 2021
Speaker, “Turning the Page: The Future of Virtual Witnessing and Electronic Wills”, Estate Planning Council of Vancouver, Online, February 23, 2021
Frequent speaker at: The Law Society of Upper Canada Special Lectures - Estates, Personal Injury, LSUC Estates and Trusts Forum, LSUC Continuing Education Programmes; The Advocates' Society Lunch Bag Series; National Judicial Institute; Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners; Ontario Bar Association; Ottawa-Carleton Law Association; Ontario Trial Lawyers Association; Ontario Psychiatric Association; Judicial Continuing Education Programs for the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice; Osgoode Hall Law School; University of Western Ontario Law School; University of Toronto.
Speaker, "Capacity to Retain and Instruct Counsel", Canadian Elder Law Conference - Bridging the gap: Elder law for everyone, Vancouver, BC, November 14, 2019
Co-Presenter (with Hayley Peglar), "The Role of Accountants in Estate Litigation", GTA Accountants Network/GTA Finance Network, Toronto, ON, November 12, 2019
Speaker, "Estate Tax Planning Gone Awry", B'nai Brith Canada, Toronto, ON May 20, 2018.
Speaker, "Increasing the Odds of a Successful Mediation", Advocates' Society 6 Minute Estates Lawyer, May 3, 2018
Speaker, Senior Estate Planning & Litigation Forum, April 22-24, 2018

Legend: GeneralLitigationPropertyCorporateGovernment

Legend: GeneralLitigationPropertyCorporateGovernment

Legend: GeneralLitigationPropertyCorporateGovernment

Additional Publications

  • Co-Author, “Traps for the Unwary: Joint Asset Planning”, The Six-Minute Estates Lawyer 2022, May 25, 2022
  • Co-Author, “The Role of the Medical Expert in the Retrospective Assessment of Testamentary Capacity”, The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 65 Issue 4, April 2020