By Karen Gross / Photography by Jeff Kirk

From the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Nexus

Julie Lee '78Julie Lee, LLB 1978, blazed a trail without even intending to. Lee spent her entire legal career at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, beginning as an articling student and becoming the firm’s first female tax partner in 1986. “I may have been the only woman in the entire tax department at the time,” Lee says. “I was basically talked into giving income tax a try by my then-mentor Bob Lindsay, who was one of the architects of the 1972 Income Tax Act.”

After an accomplished career that spanned some 30 years, Lee happily took early retirement in 2010. “It’s been amazing,” she says of her newfound freedom. ”I often wonder how did I manage to work full-time and raise two daughters?” She was assisted by her ex-husband, also a lawyer, who took a government job so that family life could run more smoothly.

In recent years, Lee has had time to reflect on what led to her professional success. She was raised by parents who immigrated from Hong Kong. Her father, a lifelong restaurant worker, saved money to buy the family a house, but there was nothing extra for university. “I just so appreciated the financial aid I received in my early years,” she says. “When I was going through my undergrad, without financial assistance, I would not have been able to go to university at all.”

After she retired, Lee made a bequest to the Faculty of Law as part of her will. But wanting a more immediate impact, she made an additional generous contribution, endowing the Julie Yan-Ping Lee Bursary. Lee hopes her gift will inspire generosity in fellow classmates and colleagues. “I want to be able to give back at this point in my life, when I’ve had such a wonderful career in law,” she says. “I just hope my contribution now can help others overcome financial barriers to attend U of T Law School and have a similarly successful career, regardless of which path they take after they get their law degree.”