Hundreds gathered at the Beth Tora Synagogue in Toronto's north end on Sunday to pay tribute to lawyer Eddie Greenspan.

The famed criminal defence attorney — known around the world as much for his high-profile clients as his impact on the legal system —​ died on Dec. 24 in Arizona at age 70. 

His daughter told those at the funeral Greenspan died after lighting the last of the Hanukkah candles and going to sleep.

Greenspan's clients included Conrad Black, Garth Drabinsky and members of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

Edward Greenspan

Edward Greenspan toured the country to speak out against the death penalty when Ottawa considered reintroducing it in the 1980s. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

He was also a vocal opponent of the death penalty and the host of the CBC Radio series The Scales of Justice in the 1980s. 

Greenspan was "an extraordinary role model to a generation of lawyers," said George Strathy, chief justice of Ontario.

"He demonstrated the importance of defence lawyers in the protection of the rights of all Canadians," Strathy told reporters. "He brought respect to the job. He brought respect for the justice system. He made a huge contribution." 

Greenspan was "a great man," said fellow lawyer George Walker. 

"It didn't matter the length of the trial, he never lost his pace," Walker said outside the synagogue. "We're all going to miss him in the legal profession, that's for sure." 

During his later years, Greenspan bristled at the notion he was slowing down, telling the Globe and Mail he was a workaholic.

"I will never be tired and I will never be weary. I am as enthusiastic about the law today as I've always been," said Greenspan in a 2009 profile. 

With files from Natalie Kalata