Class of 1976

From a fairly early age, I was determined not to enter a profession that only women occupied, although I come from a long line of elementary school teachers. Eventually, I settled on law because of my fascination with a graduate course in criminology taught by a criminal law professor. When I commenced law school in 1973, a record 25% of the first year class were women.

I fully intended to become a criminal defence lawyer, my interest being further advanced by Professors Marty Friedland and Alan Mewett at University of Toronto law school. I'm not sure when I got sidetracked, but it didn't help when I was asked in my first interview for a criminal law position (by a male lawyer) to justify how a woman could possibly succeed in such a tough and aggressive practice.

I ended up clerking for the Supreme Court of Ontario (as it then was) for a year, spending two years in private practice doing personal injury litigation, and then accepting a position as senior counsel to a Children's Aid Society. After eight years doing child protection work, I moved to the Office of the Children's Lawyer (formerly Official Guardian) to represent children from a different perspective. It has been my privilege to represent children in various types of court proceedings, including child protection, custody and access disputes, personal injury cases and estate litigation. For the past 13 years, I have also been a Legal Director at the Children's Lawyer's office. It has been an amazing and fulfilling combination to represent kids and be a litigator. I am pleased to report that I have had no further challenges to my ability to succeed in court as a "woman lawyer."

However, I haven't lost my interest in criminal law. My spouse of 20 years is a criminal defence lawyer, I always read the criminal cases first in the Ontario Reports, and I have recently embarked on a six month secondment to the Office of the Chief Coroner to pursue an interest in the inquest process.