Class of 1971

With regard to practice, in 1979, I created a new niche in the legal profession. I began a career as a legal oral historian with now over twenty-five years experience interviewing judges (SCC, Federal Court, Superior Court, Ontario Court of Justice), lawyers, police officers, as well as institutional oral histories including the Canadian Judicial Council, Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, CALL, and The Advocates Society.My most significant successes are my husband, Charles Kates, Q.C., and my sons, Steven and Adam.

In 2002, I interviewed the main players on The Charter for the Department of Justice. To date, I have interviewed over 700 respected members of the legal communities across Canada. For this work, I was privileged to receive The Law Society Medal in 2005.

With regard to challenges, I was very fortunate to be admitted to the University of Toronto Law School in 1968; I think I might owe my admission to the Hon. Hilda McKinlay who was a new member of the admissions board. This is just a feeling. During Dean Wright's era, it was very difficult for women to be admitted. The experience at law school was wonderful; we were only 11 women out of about 130 students and a two cubicle washroom. I believe that the 122 who graduated in 1971 included 10 women.

Articling positions were difficult to find. Through a friend I articled with Celia Corcoran (Godfrey and Corcoran) but the experience was not in depth. Finding a junior position after articling and Bar Admission was even more difficult. Even though my best marks and interest would have been tax, there were no jobs for women in this area - it was estates, family or real estate. I became a "Bay Street Lawyer" with Blaney, Pasternak, as only the second women in the firm. After two years, when my son was born, I left to set up my own practice.

The move to my present career I credit in part to my former classmate, Libby Burt Salter, who suggested I conduct some oral histories as a diversion from clients. The work was and is fascinating; I love being the sounding board for so many diverse colleagues and contributing to the history of our profession.