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Toronto Catholic District School Board

​Trailblazers: Women in Law

By: Kayla L.


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On October 18, UofT hosted the annual Trailblazers: Women in Law conference to showcase the many opportunities in the field of law available to females today. The purpose of this is to educate, inspire, and empower the future generation of female litigators.

 

The day began in the chapel of Victoria College, where we spent about half the day. We heard from women who have excelled in their chosen fields, listened to their stories and what they had to personally overcome to be where they are today. Candid discussions included inequality in the workplace, financial hardships, and ethical decisions.

 

Speakers at this event included Dr. Kim Stanton, who is the legal director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and Emily Chan, a lawyer for the Justice for Children and Youth. Both were able to answer questions regarding past cases and offered general advice. 

           

A panel of current law students at the University of Toronto, all in their second year of law school, also spoke about what made them choose law. All had completely different stories in terms of their background, undergrad degrees, passions, and what they hope to accomplish.


After a lunch break, we travelled further into the downtown core to visit Osgoode Hall. Here, Chief Justice Smith took time out of her incredibly busy schedule, as she does every year, to speak with us in Court Room 4.

 

Smith first began her career as a judge in 1983, only ten years after becoming a practicing lawyer. Not only was this extremely fast, but she was definitely a trailblazer of her time, being the first female in this position in Toronto. Smith shared her own stories and struggles, and expressed her passion for being a part of events of this nature. Three women who have all either started their own law firm or are currently working for one also came out to speak to us following the Chief Justice. Again, they shared personal stories and attempted to combat popular beliefs about the “proper” pathway to becoming a woman in law. (Hint: there is none!)

 

To conclude the day, we were divided into groups to visit some of the largest law firms in Toronto. My group visited Blake’s, and this was by far the highlight of the day. Blake’s is 160 years old and employs approximately 350 corporate lawyers in Toronto alone. We toured their building, located at the corner of King St. and Bay St. covering the 32nd to 40th floors. Employees answered questions, described their duties and described their typical day.

 

Trailblazers: Women in Law was a day that instilled excitement, hope, and optimism in most, if not all, who attended. Overall, the biggest lesson of the day was clear: no one genuinely knows exactly what they want to do with their lives, but all of these women were able to become trailblazers by their own definition and we have the power to follow suit. I cannot stress this enough, if you have the chance to attend next year, submit an application and see if the field of law could potentially be for you. Even if law isn’t your destined path, go anyways to be inspired to become a future trailblazer wherever you go.

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