Annual Report 2012/2013

  • July 14, 2013

Submitted by Section Chair, Nicole Byres

Summary of Meetings

Number of Meetings Held: 13

August 11, 2012
Guest Speaker: Trinda Ernst QC, Kerry Simmons, Margaret Ostrowski QC, Kerry-Lynne Findlay QC
Synopsis: 2012 CBA Canadian Legal Conference, BC WLF Reception
A networking reception in celebration of the beginning of the 10th year of operation for the BC WLF was held at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Terrace Room, in conjunction with the 2012 CBA Canadian Legal Conference (CLC) in Vancouver.

September 2012
Guest Speakers: N/A
Synopsis: WLF at UBC Law Students Clubs' Day
The WLF attended at the CBABC booth to share information about the Forum with law students and to encourage enrolment in the CBA and the WLF.

September 20, 2012
Guest Speakers: Kathryn Berge QC, Trudi Brown QC, Barbara Buchanan, Lara Bakin
QC, Judy Rost, Eve Munro, and Natasha Dookie
Synopsis: The WLF Fall Launch and networking event, combined with our very popular "Hot Tips from Hot Mentors," was open to CBA and WLF members. The "hot tips" were provided by women lawyers on various issues relating to practice management, career development and leadership.

October 11, 2012
Guest Speaker: N/A
Synopsis: WLF Fall Potluck
This networking and informal mentoring evening for WLF members was held at the home of Linda Wong.

November 7, 2012
Guest Speaker: Nicole Byres, chair of the BC WLF, and Melinda Voros and Dana Turner-Ryan, co-chairs of the WLF Mentoring Committee.
Synopsis: WLF Richmond Outreach Event
One of the primary objectives of our outreach events is to promote membership in the CBABC and the WLF, and therefore this event was open to non-CBA members as well as WLF and CBA members. Registrants attended from Richmond, White Rock and Vancouver.

November 15, 2012
Guest Speaker: N/A
Synopsis: WLF Junior Women Lawyers Event
An event held at Joey's Bentall to provide an opportunity for junior women lawyers (under 10 years' call) to network. This event was open to WLF and CBA members, as well as non-CBA members, to encourage enrolment in the CBA and WLF.

January 16, 2013
Guest Speaker: Tricia Smith, OC, OBC
Synopsis: WLF Senior Women Lawyers Dinner
A dinner for WLF members to provide the opportunity for senior women lawyers to hear Tricia Smith (lawyer and former Olympian rower) speak about her experiences competing and regulating elite sports.

February 14, 2013
Guest Speaker: Deborah Taylor (Co-Chair, WLF) and Co-chairs of the Mentoring Committee
Synopsis: WLF Mentoring Program Orientation Luncheon
A luncheon for mentor/mentee pairs to provide an orientation to the WLF Mentoring Program, including a discussion of the expectations for the mentoring year and their mentoring relationships.

February 20, 2013
Guest Speaker: The Honourable Lynn Smith
Synopsis: WLF 4th Awards Luncheon
This is a biennial event, and this year the BC WLF awarded the WLF Award of Excellence to Jan Lindsay QC, and the Debra Van Ginkle QC Mentoring Award to Danine Griffin.

March 8, 2013
Guest Speaker: N/A
Synopsis: International Women's Day Networking Event
In the first of what is hoped to become an annual event, the BC WLF called on women lawyers in BC to get together for coffee, lunch or other networking event. With the help of the CBABC, a Facebook page was created for women lawyers to share their stories and photos of networking events held that day.

April 18, 2013
Guest Speaker: N/A
Synopsis: WLF Mentoring Program Potluck
At an event hosted by Jennifer Chow, former Treasurer of the BC WLF and current member of the CBABC executive, for mentors and mentees enrolled in the WLF's 2013 Mentoring Program to meet in an informal setting to share mentoring experiences and advice.

May 17, 2013
Guest Speaker: Lisa Chamzuk, Lisa Mackie, Lori Mathison, Heather Northrup, Nicole Howell, Moneque Shebbeare, Kasari Goveneder, Angiola De Stefanis & Luncheon Speaker, Tricia Smith
Facilitators: Linda Robertson and Allison Wolf
Synopsis: WLF Education Day: "Practice Habits of Highly Successful Lawyers"
The education program provided WLF and CBA members with expert coaching advice on tools to advance careers with strategies on measurable and accountable action plans.

June 18, 2013
Guest Speaker: Maria Morellato QC, Bill Maclagan, and Andrea Hilland
Synopsis: WLF AGM and Panel discussion/update on the BC Justicia project
The highlight of the networking event and AGM was the panel discussion with the above noted speakers who provided an update of the goals and progress of the Law Society's Justicia Project.

Reports and Resolutions

Mentoring Program
The WLF's mentoring program matched another large group of mentors/mentees, nearly twice as many as the previous year. While the actual mentoring program runs on the calendar year, the Mentoring committee is busy throughout the year recruiting mentors and mentees, matching the pairs, and following up with the individual pairs providing support when necessary. The WLF's mentoring program has been a model for the Aboriginal Lawyers mentoring program that was recently launched by the Law Society of BC.

The WLF published two online newsletters, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 editions, with the purpose of reporting on activities and initiatives of the WLF, as well as to present articles relating to issues that fall within our mandate. Our newsletters allow us to reach nearly 450 WLF members located across the province, particularly those who are unable to attend all of our events. The Kamloops and Vancouver Island WLF's have a standing invitation to submit reports and articles for inclusion in the newsletter.

Nicole Byres published 2 guest articles (August 2012 and June 2013) on topics related to the core mission of the WLF; and we regularly submitted articles reporting on or marketing BC WLF events and initiatives.

Resolution on Trust Account Funds
In response to the Provincial Council resolution regarding section trust funds, the BC WLF executive developed and approved a resolution/proposal for the use of such funds for consideration by the CBABC executive.

Liaison with other Groups
For the past 18 months, the BC WLF has been a member of the WEB Alliance, a network of approximately 32 women's business groups. Most members of the WEB Alliance share common activities: Mentoring, Education, Networking & Recognition and we attend quarterly meetings to share ideas. Often this results in opportunities to collaborate on initiatives as we did for a 2 hour meeting with Premier Clark on February 28, 2013.

As a result of a persistent expression of interest, the Law Society has now invited the BC WLF to participate in the Justicia Project meetings. We have also recently joined the Equality and Diversity Committee's initiative to collaborate with other CBABC groups on our shared objectives of creating a more diverse and inclusive profession.

Executive Meetings
The executive meets on a monthly basis, usually at the CBABC's offices. In addition, the WLF has 4 standing committees (lead by one or more executive members), 3 of which also meet at least on a monthly basis. In addition, ad hoc committees are struck as required for things like developing the trust account resolution noted above, nominating committee for succession, and special events or initiatives. Also, the BC WLF engages in an annual strategic planning session. This year's planning occurred over a 2 day period and one of the outcomes was the plan of events for 2013-14. The individual time commitment of the WLF executive is considerable and as chair, I am grateful that so many busy lawyers have been willing to give so generously of their volunteer time.

Comments and Observations of the Chair

BC Women Lawyers Forum has now completed its 10th year of operation. As you are aware, there are now Forums across Canada in every province and territory, except Nunavut, with a total membership of approximately 1600. BC by far has the biggest WLF membership. The strength of the WLF is that it provides a national and diverse membership which leads to a broader exchange of ideas on issues of importance to women lawyers.

From November 23-25, 2012 I attended the annual in-person meeting of the Canadian Chairs of WLF's from other provinces together with the executive of the National WLF, in Edmonton, AB. I also regularly attend the teleconference call meetings that occurs every 2 months. Continued funding for attendance at the annual (face to face) meeting is essential to develop the relationships necessary to ensure that information and ideas sharing continues for the benefit of all groups.

On a related matter, we also value the relationships and information exchange opportunities that arise from our participation at Provincial Council meetings, and for the past many years, the Chair (or designate) has attended all Provincial Council meetings on behalf of the BC WLF.

We believe that 2012-13 was another successful year for the BC WLF, given all of the events and activities noted in section 3 and 4 above. As always, we are very grateful for the support provided by the CBABC executive and staff. We could not put on our many events and programs without the support provided by the CBA, BC Branch.

It has been my honour and privilege, to chair the BC WLF, as well as to serve with the members of the WLF Executive.