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Calling for Change

Women, Law, and the Legal Profession

Elizabeth Sheehy and Sheila McIntyre

Publication Year: 2006

Unique in both scope and perspective, Calling for Change investigates the status of women within the Canadian legal profession ten years after the first national report on the subject was published by the Canadian Bar Association. Elizabeth Sheehy and Sheila McIntyre bring together essays that investigate a wide range of topics, from the status of women in law schools, the practising bar, and on the bench, to women's grassroots engagement with law and with female lawyers from the frontlines. Contributors not only reflect critically on the gains, losses, and barriers to change of the past decade, but also provide blueprints for political action. Academics, community activists, practitioners, law students, women litigants, and law society benchers and staff explore how egalitarian change is occurring and/or being impeded in their particular contexts. Each of these unique voices offers lessons from their individual, collective, and institutional efforts to confront and counter the interrelated forms of systemic inequality that compromise women's access to education and employment equity within legal institutions and, ultimately, to equal justice in Canada.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix

The Editors wish to acknowledge the many contributors to the conference, “Re-Imagining Touchstones: The Wilson Report Ten Years On and Counting; Re-Visiting the Issues and Re-Thinking the Questions,” held at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law in March 2004, from which this book emerges: our co-organizers...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-21

In 1993, the Canadian Bar Association [CBA] 1 Task Force on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession, headed by the Honourable Bertha Wilson, produced the first national examination of the situation of women lawyers in Canada. Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability2 generated accolades and denunciations from within and outside...

Part I: Engaging Women’s Equality: The Changing Context in Canada

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pp. 23-93

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pp. 25-32

Il y a dix ans, Les assises de la réforme : Égalité, diversité et responsabilité1 [le Rapport Wilson] proposait un agenda ambitieux de réformes visant à assurer une profession juridique exempte de discrimination à l’égard des femmes. Les recommandations touchaient les facultés de droit, la pratique privée, les ministères et sociétés commerciales employant des avocats et ...

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3. Feminist Alliances in the Face of the Law

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pp. 33-52

The journey from Vancouver to Ottawa is long and arduous. But any cross-country gathering of accomplished feminists is a precious event these days. In this year of a national election that gave us a minority right-wing government,1 book releases that trash feminists and our use of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,2 and court cases using provincial human ...

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4. Legal Workplace Technology and Equality for Women Lawyers: Fortifying or Transforming the “Master’s House”?

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pp. 53-81

In its 1993 report, Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability, the Canadian Bar Association Task Force2 identified a number of barriers to women’s equal participation in the legal profession.3 One of these was the organization and evaluation of legal work. Touchstones noted that the long and irregular hours demanded...

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5. Women in Law: Retreat and Renewal

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pp. 83-93

Revisiting Justice Bertha Wilson’s Touchstones report1 prompts me to reflect on an interesting and important time in the history of the legal profession and my own professional development. These reflections, in turn, suggest that we must broaden the scope of our equality work...

Part II: Educating for Change

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pp. 95-200

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6. Reflections on Employment Equity (the Hiring Component) and Law Schools in Ontario

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pp. 97-116

The term Employment Equity,1 uniquely Canadian, has been used for about two decades to describe strategies directed at eliminating barriers to full participation in the workforce for groups that have historically encountered discrimination in the employment context. These groups have...

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7. The Conflicting and Contradictory Dance: The Essential Management of Identity for Women of Colour in the Legal Academy

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pp. 117-139

Many of the essays included in this collection will refer to the gains and disappointments confronting women practising law in Canada. The ten years since the Touchstones report2 provide an opportunity for critical reflection, an important part of any progressive agenda. Focusing on women in practice is essential, but there are...

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8. Justicia in Your Face: How to Survive Law as an Anti-Colonial, Anti-Racist, Feminist Activist

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pp. 141-148

This paper distills a portion of a longer paper we wrote jointly for a feminist course at the University of Ottawa.2 The genesis of our paper Justicia in Your Face was our desire to assist other women in navigating law school. As feminist activists who had come to law school after working a combined almost thirty years in anti-violence work, we were very conscious...

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9. Educating for Equality: The Meaning of Feminist Administration for Legal Education in Canada

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pp. 149-157

For twelve years, between 1987 and 1999, I worked as vice-dean and then dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.1 During my time as an administrator, law schools and universities adopted an explicitly competitive stance, and political and institutional corporatism became the dominant drivers of legal education. During the years when my primary ...

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10. “Becoming” a Lawyer: Gender and the Processes of Professional Identity Formation

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pp. 159-177

An uneasy relationship exists between feminist and social justice concerns and an interest in women lawyers. The dichotomy between social and legal justice can be so great and the legal process so disempowering1 that it has been suggested that feminists should abandon the law as a site of...

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11. Legal Education as a Strategy for Change in the Legal Profession

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pp. 179-200

In The Real World of Technology, the renowned Canadian physicist Ursula Franklin described the idea of technology as practice, a way of organizing work and people. In her view, technology is not “the sum of the artifacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters,” but...

Part III: Practising Change

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pp. 201-301

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12. Growing Diversity and Emergent Change: Gender and Ethnicity in the Legal Profession

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pp. 203-236

During the last twenty years women’s representation in the North American legal profession has grown significantly. Yet it is only in the last five years that we see an emerging pattern of increasing ethnic and racial diversity among legal practitioners. This paper summarizes findings from a recent survey of lawyers in the province...

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13. An Update on Gender and Diversity in the Legal Profession in Alberta, 1991–2003

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pp. 237-251

In the early 1990s, I conducted four surveys—two for the Law Society of British Columbia of their active and inactive members1 and two similar surveys for the Law Society of Alberta2—on gender issues in the legal profession. The Alberta surveys also asked questions about discrimination on the basis of colour or race, disability, age, marital status, sexual ...

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14. Aboriginal Women: Working in Coalition to Advance Sex Equality

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pp. 253-261

No woman is an island! Communities of women in Canadian society have learned over the past several decades the importance of working in coalition to advance sex equality. When Aboriginal women’s communities have sought to advance sex equality based on race, particularly in the courts, we have found ourselves under...

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15. Barriers Between Feminist Clients and Feminist Lawyers: or, What Class Are You In?

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pp. 263-266

I addressed the subject of feminist clients and feminist lawyers at the “Re-Imagining Touchstones” conference, which took place in Ottawa in March of 2004, some thirty years after my generation dared to imagine feminism I spoke from a place of lived experience as the litigant in the civil lawsuit...

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16. From Litigator to Litigant and Back Again: Equality in Practice

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pp. 267-279

It was with great reluctance that I returned, in 2003, to reflect on Symes v. Canada,1 the infamous tax case in which I sought, unsuccessfully, to deduct the costs of child care from my business income. I had not read the judgment in my case since it was released in December 1993...

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17. The High Price of Success: The Backlash Against Women Judges in Australia

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pp. 281-301

The year 2003 saw the appointment of the first woman—Dame Brenda Hale—to the English House of Lords. Justice Michael Kirby of the Australian High Court commented, “After hundreds of years, she takes her seat in that noble court as the first woman judge ever. In the end, the excuse about the absence of female toilets...

Part IV: Governing Change

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pp. 303-363

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18. Les femmes dans la profession juridique : Le r

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pp. 305-323

Le chapitre 12 du rapport Les assises de la réforme : Égalité, diversité et responsabilité2 [le Rapport Wilson] discute du rôle des barreaux dans la promotion de l’égalité entre les sexes dans la profession juridique, et fait Plus de dix ans se sont écoulés depuis l’adoption de ces recommandations par l’Association du Barreau canadien. Les mandats des barreaux n’ont pas ...

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19. The Second Decade: The Role of the Canadian Bar Association in Implementing the Touchstones Report

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pp. 325-338

The Canadian Bar Association’s [CBA] Task Force on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession recognized the monumental nature of the task at hand when it completed its mandate. At the tabling of Touchstones for Change: Equality, Diversity and Accountability [Touchstones report] in August 1993, the task force chair, the Honourable Bertha Wilson, emphasized that the ...

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20. Reflections on the Post-Touchstones Decade

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pp. 339-343

The Touchstones1 and Racial Equality in the Legal Profession2 reports of the Canadian Bar Association [CBA] were significant milestones for the legal community and, ten years later, it is critical to revisit and rethink the issues raised by these reports...

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21. Reimagining Legal Ethics After Touchstones for Change

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pp. 345-363

In law, ethical discourse represents a complex network of overlapping and connected understandings of the central concepts that are used to justify self-regulation of the legal profession: independence, the adversary system, self-regulation, and public service.2 The Gender Equality Task Force of the Canadian Bar Association [CBA] focused its critical...

Part V: Regrouping for Change

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pp. 365-414

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22. Looking Back/Looking Forward: Reflections on a Heterodox Legal Career

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pp. 367-376

This chapter reflects on Justice Bertha Wilson’s work in Touchstones on women and the legal profession in Canada by reference to my own heterodox career in law and what I hope we can contribute to women enmeshed in law in the future. Given that I have had a couple of people comment on the oddness of my title, I thought I should start by explaining ...

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23. Coalition Politics: Equality in Struggle

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pp. 377-391

Both progressive and regressive political movements often increase their visibility and political leverage by joining together a number of community and public interest groups that share some common interest in pursuing a particular social, economic, legal, or regime change. The internal dynamics, decision-making processes, representativeness...

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24. Looking in the Mirror: Women, Lawyers, and Prisoners

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pp. 393-404

I want to start by acknowledging the traditional keepers of this land, the Algonquin people. It is an honour and a privilege to walk on your land. I also want to honour and especially thank the women in and from prison for the privilege of walking with them. With this privilege comes responsibility, This chapter follows up and honours...

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25. Quand Law devient la loi

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pp. 405-414

Il y a quelques jours lorsque j’ai fi nalement pu m’asseoir pour préparer ma communication, j’ai relu le résumé que vous avez trouvé dans votre trousse. Ces lignes que j’ai remises à Liz Sheehy dans toute l’innocence de l’été présumaient d’une disponibilité que je n’ai pas eue, mais surtout, elles promettaient quelque chose qui dépasse mes compétences. Je ...

Journals Referenced

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pp. 415-417

E-ISBN-13: 9780776615530
E-ISBN-10: 077661553X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776615530
Print-ISBN-10: 0776606204

Page Count: 426
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women lawyers -- Canada.
  • Sex discrimination against women -- Canada.
  • Sex discrimination in employment -- Canada.
  • Sex role in the work environment -- Canada.
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