Class of 1977

I find guidance in The First Women Lawyers: A Comparative Study of Gender, Law and the Legal Professions (2006, Hart Publishing) an illuminating work by Professor Mary Jane Mossman of Osgoode Hall Law School. Professor Mossman was the Clinic Funding Manager when I was the senior staff lawyer at Jane Finch Community Legal Services, later became a member of the Board of Directors of my clinic and has been my mentor through the years. When the Charter of Rights and Freedoms first came into effect, I was privileged to be part of group of young women lawyers, led by Professor Mossman, who conducted a Charter audit of Ontario legislation.To embark on a gender analysis of one's career is not an easy task. Would I have followed a different path if there had been less discrimination against women in the legal profession when I attended law school? Would I have followed a different path if more opportunities had been open to me when I graduated from law school? Would I have been more successful in the legal profession? I can only guess at the answers to these questions.

I find myself drawn to the characters The First Women Lawyers depicts in all of their complex relationships with the profession and society at large. Among these women pioneers in the legal profession were those who were admitted to the profession but never really accepted by it, and those who were never admitted to the legal profession but practiced with relative success on its fringes.

I would place myself somewhere between the two: admitted to the profession, perhaps not entirely accepted by the legal profession, but thriving on its edges in developing areas of law. My work in a community clinic, in an administrative tribunal, and in the advancement of administrative law has certainly not been mainstream and in some ways has been pioneering. I would say this is true of a number of my women colleagues from my generation of lawyers.

I graduated in 1977 from the Faculty of Law and articled with the firm of Copeland, King. After a brief period in private practice, I was hired as the first lawyer for a new community legal clinic, Jane Finch Community Legal Services. I had an exciting and challenging five years there. In 1985, I joined a newly created Tribunal, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal (now the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) as counsel. I have been there ever since. In 1998, I was appointed a full-time Vice-Chair of WSIAT. I am active in the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR) and the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT), with a special interest in developing training programs for tribunal adjudicators. I love my job as a tribunal adjudicator and consider myself to have been blessed with interesting work for my entire career.