Class of 1973

I had been studying (Co-op) Applied Chemistry at the University of Waterloo (UW) and was one of two women in my class. Many of our classes were taken with engineering students and again no other women.Entering law school in the fall of 1970 was a shock. There were so many women! I think that year there were approximately 15% women in first-year law. There was an article in the Globe and Mailabout the very large percentage of women at U of T, much bigger than the other law schools.

Shortly after arriving at U of T a professor, who was on the Admissions Committee, told me that they were letting in more women because universities were graduating more people than the profession needed. That was after the first week when Ronald Macdonald had told us to look to our left and look to our right and only one of us would graduate.

Some professors really encouraged women entering the profession. Albert Abel and Frank Iacobucci both actively helped me get an articling job - as the only shiksa in a very Jewish firm. It was a positive experience. The senior lawyers were quietly supportive and it was only later that I really appreciated and understood that they themselves had met tremendous discrimination when they had been young. One man in particular, Samuel Gotfrid, Q.C. was very kind in a courtly way to a green, unsophisticated girl. I read many years later that he had given Bora Laskin his apprenticeship when no one else would hire him.

I went into partnership in 1979 with a man who was not my husband and I was told then that we may have been the first male - female partnership in Ontario who were not married to each other. I vividly remember being confronted at a client social function by my partner's mother-in-law and asked what it was that I could do for him that his wife could not! His wife was one of my biggest supporters then and refers clients to me to this day.

Looking back, I can see that I made a number of decisions to make my life easier as a woman in law at that time. I consciously dropped my voice because a high-pitched voice is not heard in a boardroom. I walked with very little hip rotation - like a man.

In the second half of my career I've been exploring who I am. I've challenged the indicia of lawyering success as was set before me by a male profession in the mid '70s.

Today, I'm trying to practice law in a holistic manner. I listen to the client's instructions. I try to listen with my ears, my intelligence and my heart and then work to align the client's values with the legal work to be done - not always the initial instructions.

I really enjoy the practice of law and my clients. And I'm practicing walking with a rotation of the hips. It really makes my clothes look better.