Chair’s Report for 2011-2012

Posted on Thursday, January 8, 2015

As set out in the Gift Agreement which established the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, in 2005:

The ‘Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession’ is designed to strengthen University of Ottawa teaching, research and administration as they relate to feminist perspectives on law.  It is also designed to maintain and develop links between women in the legal academy and women in the legal profession.

The Chair builds upon the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section’s international reputation as a leader in the field of social justice initiatives by engaging both internal and external communities in feminist legal research, curriculum development, mentoring and a variety of lectures and colloquia.

The holder of the ‘Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession’ works with an existing group of scholars, all committed to women’s equality through law, to encourage women to enter the profession, to train legal professionals to deliver services to women, to connect women in law school with women in the legal profession, and to further law reform and research impacting on women as clients and women in the profession.

This year the Chair was held by Professor Rosemary Cairns Way.

Annual Activities of the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair in 2011-2012

Shirley E. Greenberg Lecture Series

The 2011-2012 Greenberg Lecture Series was a great success, drawing a regular overflow audience of students, professors, staff and members of the general public, who were treated to a sandwich lunch and a stimulating presentation by members of the law school’s feminist teaching faculty, and the broader feminist community.  

This year, the Greenberg Lecture Series included the following presentations:

September 21, 2011:  Meredith Turshen, Fulbright Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice, Rutgers University, “Violence against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Political Economy of the New Wars” (Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Research and Education Center (HRREC), International Law and POWER Africa)

October 19, 2011: Professor Anne Levesque, “Les approches feministes aux litiges d’interet public”

November 28, 2011: Professor Maneesha Deckha (Faculty of Law, University of Victoria), “Diversifying the Property Debate: Toward a Postcolonial Feminist Approach to the Legal Status of Nonhuman Animals”

November 30, 2011:  Professor Jennifer Bond, “Securing Consistency for Consistent Security: Gender and the Responsibility to Protect”

February 1, 2012:  Professor Angela Cameron, “Restoring Women: Legal and Community Responses to Violence Against Women in Opposite Sex Relationships”

February 23, 2012: Professor Rosemary Cairns Way, “Reconceptualizing Professional Responsibility: Incorporating Equality” (co-sponsored by the Professionalism Speaker Series)

February 29, 2012:  Professor Joanne St. Lewis, “Where and When I Enter: Black Women in Canadian Public Life” (co-sponsored by Law and Social Justice)

March 7, 2012: Evelyne Jean-Bouchard, Vanier Fellow, HRREC,  « Le rapport des Congolaises au droit et a leurs droits : participer a la reconstruction des espaces normatifs en period post-conflit »

 

Greenberg Public Interest Fellowship for Women and the Law

During the summer of 2011, the Greenberg Chair also sponsored a public interest fellowship position.  Second-year law student Tamera Burnett spent the summer working for the National Association of Women and the Law on two major projects: the coordination and creation of a gender orientation manual for first year law students, as well as research and writing work for a policy brief on abortion rights.  Her description of the work is set out below:

During the summer of 2011, the Greenberg Chair provided the funding for me to participate in a Public Interest Fellowship at the University of Ottawa. My placement was with the National Association of Women and the Law, and my supervisor was Julie Shugarman. I worked primarily on two major projects: the coordination and creation of a gender orientation manual for first year law students, as well as research and writing work for a policy brief on abortion rights.

NAWL originally released a gender and the law orientation manual in the early 1990s, and the new handbook project was meant to be a modernisation of those previous efforts. I initially became involved with the editorial board responsible for creating this new manual at a feminist leadership conference that NAWL hosted in winter 2011. However, I was able to take on more of a leadership role once I was a fellow, and I became the head coordinator of the project. My responsibilities were extremely varied. I worked on finding articles for the manual, I contacted all of the rights holders of our desired excerpts to obtain copyright, I hosted teleconferences with the larger group, and I helped to design the structure of the manual overall. It was an exceptionally rewarding and educational experience that exposed me to many of the skills that I would need to develop in my later career, but would not be practicing in law school.

In regards to the policy brief on abortion rights, I was responsible for planning and implementing the entire project, from proposal to drafting. NAWL arranged for Professor Sanda Rodgers, an expert in the field, to mentor me and review my work. While financial concerns meant that NAWL and I were unable to finalise this project, it was a great experience as it gave me the opportunity to improve my writing for advocacy skills, as well as my general project management abilities.  Additionally, abortion rights is a topic that I have great interest in, and I was encouraged to take some of the material that I had developed and use it for my degree work.

Overall, my experience with the fellowship program and NAWL was fantastic, and has helped guide my legal education, allowed me to work on meaningful and wide-reaching projects while still just a student, and connected me with many amazing women in the professional fields that I am interested in. I am incredibly thankful to the Greenberg Chair for making it possible.

 

LEAF Ottawa Persons’ Day Breakfast:

On Friday October 14, 2011, LEAF Ottawa held its annual Persons’ Day Breakfast which has been co-sponsored by the Greenberg Chair for the last number of years. There were over 100 people in attendance at the event, which was held at the Lord Elgin Hotel.  Through the sponsorship of the Greenberg Chair, over 75 tickets were subsidized for students and low-income registrants.  The keynote address was given by the Honourable Madam Justice Susan G. Himel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.  She was introduced by Greenberg Chair Professor Rosemary Cairns Way.   Madam Justice Himel discussed her experiences as a judge, and focussed especially on her ground-breaking decision on the constitutionality of the prostitution related provisions of the Criminal Code.  Justice Himel’s speech was very well received by the audience, and she made a point of remaining at the breakfast to talk to students after the conclusion of her presentation.  The LEAF Ottawa executive thanked the Greenberg Chair for its support throughout the year, noting the importance of the Chair’s contribution to the success of the LEAF breakfast in particular.

 


Women and the Legal Profession Course

The Greenberg Chair provided funding for release-time to enable Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, to continue teaching the ‘Law and Society: Defending Battered Women on Trial’ course (CML 3374F) in the winter 2012 term.  The course, designed by Professors Elizabeth Sheehy and Kim Pate, is aimed at preparing future lawyers to defend battered women caught up in the criminal justice system and at developing a package of materials to aid defence lawyers charged with this important task.

 

First Year Common Law Jane Doe Lecture

On October 26, 2011 the Greenberg Chair sponsored the annual Jane Doe lecture: “The Politics of Rape” at the law school.

A decade ago, the woman know as ‘Jane Doe’ won a landmark legal victory, holding the Toronto Police Service liable for the violation of her constitutional right to equality and for the failure to warn her of the threat of a serial rapist.  Presented by Jane Doe herself, the annual Jane Doe lecture, which focuses on the sex equality related tort and criminal law issues raised in the Jane Doe case, is attended by all first-year law students, as well as by upper-year law and women's studies students. 

 

Other activities of the Greenberg Chair in 2010-2011

National Association of Women and the Law
Gender and the Law Manual: An Introductory Handbook for Law Students

Last year, the Greenberg Chair was one of the sponsors of a young women’s Leadership Summit organized by the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL), which took place at Fauteux Hall from February 12-14, 2011.  The summit gathered over two dozen undergraduate and law students from across Canada, including four first- and second-year University of Ottawa law students, to an intense two-day skills-building workshop on topics ranging from “Doing Advocacy,” “Research and Writing for Social Change,” and “Working with the Media,” to “Getting Organized,” and “Creating National Networks.” 

One of the outcomes of that leadership summit was the decision by NAWL to publish an alternative, feminist orientation manual to law school.  The new manual updates one which was published twenty years ago.  Greenberg public interest intern, Tamera Burnett worked on this project during her summer placement with NAWL, and the manual was released in October 2011.  Below are excerpts from the NAWL press release:

The Gender and the Law Manual consists of manifestos, excerpts of articles and personal accounts written by 27 feminist students, professors, lawyers and activists. Taken together, these excerpts encourage students to think critically about the law and to use the skills they acquire in law school to advance the equality rights of women and other marginalized groups. By publishing this material at this time, the NAWL Trust is renewing its commitment to advance the equality rights of Canadian women.  Professor Rosemary Cairns Way, the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, generously supported the translation and publication of the Manual: “The purpose of the Manual is not only to help women feel more at ease in law schools and in the legal profession, but also to encourage feminist students and future lawyers to think critically about the law and to take action to denounce inequality and injustice.”

A copy of the Handbook is appended to this report.  It is available on-line at http://www.nawl.ca

Women’s Legal Mentorship Program

This year a well-organized group of women law students initiated a new law school organization, the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program.  Information about this entirely student initiated program can be found on their website at http://womenslegalmentorship.wordpress.com/about/   Here is how they describe themselves: 
The WLMP is a comprehensive feminist legal mentorship program developed by women studying law at the University of Ottawa. The goal of the WLMP is to help women to develop a support system that will help them throughout their legal careers. The program — the first of its kind in Ontario — facilitates peer-to-peer mentorship, student-lawyer mentorship and professional development workshops.
Why is the WLMP necessary?

  • Only 38 per cent of lawyers in Ontario are women, even though women make up more than 50 per cent of law school graduates
  • At age 40, women lawyers earn 75 per cent of the average income and 85 per cent of the median income of men the same age
  • Women represent 60 per cent of lawyers who change jobs
  • Of the women lawyers who left private practice, 27 per cent quit their law careers entirely
  • More than 20 per cent of women lawyers who quit their jobs cited work-life balance as the reason

The WLMP co-founders want to stop this trend by linking women with feminist mentors to give them support and guidance as they begin their legal careers.    
The WLMP is a program for all feminist law students, regardless of their race, class, ability, religion, age, gender identity or sexual orientation. The WLMP’s Diversity Coordinating Chair is developing diversity outreach initiatives to address the mentoring needs of underrepresented groups within legal profession
The Greenberg Chair was asked to provide funding assistance for two of their events - the program launch, and an evening workshop presentation “So you want to be a Judge?”  Both events were well attended.  The launch breakfast was held on October 4, 2011.  The keynote speaker, Mary Dawson spoke of her experiences as a lawyer with the federal government and offered her reflections on women within government practice.  “So you want to be a Judge?” was held on March 22, 2012.  Speakers were: Monica Podgorny, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law student; The Honourable Justice Heather E. Perkins-McVey, East Region; The Honourable Justice Brian W. Lennox (Formerly Chief Justice), East Region, and Executive Director of the National Judicial Institute and Professor Rosemary Cairns Way, Greenberg Chair, University of Ottawa.  The event received a fair amount of media attention, particularly given current media discussion of diversity on the bench.  It was well attended, and the two judicial panellists gave generously of their time after the presentation to answer student questions.

Sexual Assault Support Centre Event

On Thursday, 15 September 2011, the Greenberg Chair provided an opportunity for 4 faculty members (Jennifer Bond, Rakhi Ruparelia, Jennie Abell, Sarah Morales) and 2 students (Christine Dang, Debjani Poddar) to attend the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) fundraising event.  The goal of the event was to raise $10,000 in support of the Centre's work with survivors of sexual violence, with a particular focus on the needs of their women in war program.  In addition to contributing financially to a valuable community organization, Greenberg support for faculty attendance at this event provided many benefits.  Students and faculty members working on related issues had an opportunity to spend time not only with each other, but also with many other members of the community (both lawyers and non-lawyers) with similar interests.   It was particularly wonderful to have a strong faculty presence at this event given that two of our own students have both benefited from SASC's programming and are now actively involved in supporting other women through the organization. 

Pro Bono Students Canada Launch Event / Lancement du Réseau national d’étudiants pro bono

On September 14, 2011, the Greenberg Chair was a co-sponsor of the Pro Bono Students Canada launch event held at Fauteux Hall. The launch event was followed by a reception in the Tsampalieros Atrium. Speakers at the event included: David Scott, Co-Chairperson of the Firm and Counsel in the Ottawa Office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and former Chair of Pro Bono Law Ontario; Professor Pascale Fournier, member of the Civil Law faculty and an expert in religious rights and women’s rights; and Anne Levesque, Lawyer for Champ and Associates and advocate for disadvantaged communities. The primary purpose of this event is to motivate and inspire student volunteers as they begin their placements with PBSC.  
Student Funding to attend “Women, the Charter and CEDAW in the 21st Century: Taking Stock and Moving Forward” a conference held at Queen’s University in Kingston, March 2-3rd, 2012

The Greenberg Chair funded three students to attend this conference.  Students who wished to apply for funding were asked to submit a paragraph explaining their interest in attending. Andrea Vig, one of the funded students, wrote: 

I am passionate about women's rights and frequently find myself frustrated with the popular attitude that "nowadays" men and women are entirely equal. I am interested in learning more about the subtle barriers to equality that women still face, particularly pertaining to economic and reproductive inequalities. I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about these issues and interact with like-minded people who are committed to social change.

After attending the conference, Giselle Salinas described her experience as follows:

Thank you for the opportunity to attend. I found the conference to be both revealing and stimulating in its content. I particularly enjoyed Professor Sharry Aiken and her presentation entitled ‘Who is Family? A Critique of Canada’s Shifting Immigration Policies.’ Being an immigrant who still has family in another country I connected with the information presented on a personal level. I was inspired by Professor Aiken to look beyond the words of praise the government is using to describe its new policies and instead take a critical approach to uncover the effects of this policy on Canadian immigrants and in particular women immigrants (who make up 60% of sponsored immigrants).

In addition to representing the University of Ottawa at the conference, student attendees had a chance to spend time outside the classroom with the many Faculty of Law colleagues who were speaking at the program.

 

Governor General’s Persons Award - Enbridge Famous 5 Luncheon

On October 19, the Greenberg Chair sponsored a Faculty of Law table at the Enbridge Famous 5 Luncheon, held at the National Arts Centre. This luncheon honoured the recipients of the Governor General’s Persons Award.  This year lawyers and friends of the law faculty Kim Pate and Sharon McIvor were among the honorees.


 

University of Ottawa Association of Women and the Law Events

This year the Greenberg Chair sponsored two events organized by the UOAWL Caucus.  The first event was a discussion of feminist pedagogy (October 20, 2011) which focussed on the Orientation Manual.  Greenberg Chair Professor Rosemary Cairns Way spoke and facilitated a lively discussion about women as students and teachers in the law school.  The second event was a panel discussion on abortion rights (March 14, 2012) featuring former Greenberg Chair Professor Jackman.

Women’s Studies Lecture Series: Feminist Cafes

The Chair provided financial support to assist in bringing the two speakers noted below to the University as part of the Feminist Café series organized by Women’s Studies.  Both speakers addressed legally significant issues and the talks were promoted within the law school.  Organizer of the series, Professor Shoshana Magnet described the talks as follows:

There were 50 people at Professor Wafaa Hasan’s (McMaster University) talk.  She examined the current dialogue dynamics between Israeli and Palestinian woman, to contextualize the current Palestinian-feminist boycott of Israeli-Palestinian feminist peace dialogues.

There were 60 people at Professor Paula Treichler’s (University of Illinois) talk.  She presented a legal history of the condom and its legal regulation in the United States.  Her talk addressed the implications of legislation on sex and sexuality for the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

November 2, 2011:  Visit of Mme Mechri, President of the Human Rights League of Tunisia

The Shirley Greenberg Chair joined forces with HRREC, the Faculty of Common Law’s Social Justice Group and International Law Group, as well as the Faculty of Civil Law’s juriGlobe project to facilitate the visit of Mme Balkis Mechri, President of the Human Rights League of Tunisia, to Canada. There is a great deal of interest around whether or not women’s rights in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab world would change as a result of the wider political change.  While here Mme Mechri made a presentation on 2 November 2011 to students and professors at the Faculty of Law. Mme Mechri then attended the CCIL 40th Annual Conference in Ottawa entitled “Culture and Innovation in International Law,” where she participated on a panel on Women’s Rights and the Arab Spring.  Finally she met with civil society groups in Montreal at a meeting organized by the Ligue des droits et libertés du québec to speak on this same topic. All of these events took place in French.

Second Annual Emerging Issues in Public Law Conference: May 18th, 2012
Keynote by Mary Eberts

Following a tradition begun last year, the Greenberg Chair is sponsoring the keynote address at the second annual Emerging Issues Conference organized by the Public Law Group at the University of Ottawa.  This year’s speaker is distinguished lawyer and feminist Mary Eberts who will address the creation of a culture of equality in law and legal practice.  Equality is one of the themes of the half-day program, which last year attracted a large contingent of lawyers from the federal government. Professor Cairns Way will introduce Ms. Eberts on behalf of the Chair.  She will also be presenting a paper on the equality panel.  

 

Speaking Engagements and other activities by the Greenberg Chair in 2011-2012

In her capacity as Greenberg chair, Professor Cairns Way undertook a number of speaking engagements, including the following:

October 2011: Speaker at UOAWL event on feminist pedagogy

February 2012: Greenberg Speaker Series “Reconceptualizing Professional Responsibility: Incorporating Equality”

March 2012:  Panellist at WLMP event “So you want to be a Judge?”

May 2012:  Speaker at Osgoode Constitutional Cases Conference celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; “Attending to Equality: the Charter, Criminal Law and Competitive Truths”

May 2012: Speaker at Second Annual Emerging Issues in Public Law conference; “Mills, N.S. and the Right to a Fair Trial: What’s Equality Got to do With It?” 

Ongoing: Blogger: bloggingforequality.ca  a project of the feminist law professors at the University of Ottawa coordinated by Professor Angela Cameron 

Proposed Projects for 2012-2013

In addition to the annual events currently supported by the Chair, Professor Cairns Way intends to focus more energy on the student experience in the law school.  Two summer internships will be funded in the summer of 2012.   A formal launch event for the NAWL Handbook is planned for the fall, as well as a roundtable on feminist pedagogy.  In addition Greenberg will co-sponsor with the Professionalism Initiative and the Women’s Legal Mentorship Project an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube’s retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada.  This celebration will include an event for all first year law students “I Dissent” A conversation between Professor Constance Backhouse and Claire L’Heureux-Dube, as well as a fund-raising reception at the Supreme Court of Canada.  Funds will be raised in support of public interest summer fellowships at the Faculty of Law.

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