Annual Report 2013/2014

  • July 15, 2014

Women Lawyers Forum
Submitted by Section Chair, Nicole Byres, Q.C.

Summary of Meetings

Number of Meetings Held: 14

September 7, 2013
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope
Synopsis:The BC WLF Team which Deborah Taylor captained, raised over $38,000 – the most money a single team raised in all of Canada. Since our Walk of Hope team also raised the most in BC, we were presented with a trophy which currently is at the CBABC office. (The Vancouver Island WLF also had a team that walked in similar walks on Vancouver Island).

September 18, 2013
Guest Speakers: The Honourable Judge Patricia Janzen, Valerie Dixon, Katherine Ducey, Azmina Karim-Bondy, Shona Moore, Q.C., Carla Forth, Q.C., and Linda Wong
Meeting Title/Topic: WLF Fall Launch and Hot Tips from Hot Mentors
Synopsis: The "hot tips" focus on various issues relating to practice management, career development and leadership, all from a woman lawyer's perspective.

October 30, 2013
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Fall Potluck
Synopsis: This popular networking and informal mentoring evening for WLF members was held at Deborah Taylor's home, WLF Vice-Chair.

November 14, 2013
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Mentoring Pairs' "Wrap-Up" Event
Synopsis: An informal networking and final group event was held for the participants of the 2013 WLF mentoring program at the Butcher and Bullock pub.

January 9, 2014
Guest Speaker: Nancy McKinstry
Meeting Title/Topic: Senior Women Lawyers Dinner
Synopsis: Nancy McKinstry was this year's guest speaker. This is an intimate dinner for WLF members who are also 'senior' women lawyers. Margaret Ostrowski, Q.C., continues to support this event by organising the guest speakers.

February 7, 2014
Guest Speakers: Alison Wolfe, Shift Works Strategic Inc., and Linda K. Robertson, Advocacy Legal Consultants
Meeting Title/Topic: Lunching with Women Leaders (#1)
Synopsis: This luncheon series was developed in partnership with the Law Courts Inn. The program was developed and loncheon events were presented by Allison Wolfe and Linda Robertson. The series was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, and designed to provide practical leadership and practise management skills to women lawyers. The first luncheon program was called "Sheryl Sandberg"s Lean In: A discussion of its relevance and significance to women lawyers."

February 19, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Launch 2014 Mentoring Program Orientation Luncheon
Synopsis: This event (held at the Law Courts Inn) was open to mentors and mentees and provided
an opportunity for new pairs to meet in a group setting and for the pairs to receive an orientation to the WLF Mentoring Program, including a discussion of the expectations for the mentoring year and their mentoring relationships.

February 20, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Junior Women Lawyers Event
Synopsis: This event was 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. The Executive approved a subsidy to keep the actual cost of the event low, in recognition of the fact that the target registrants were junior lawyers and that this event also had a 'recruitment' purpose which benefited the CBABC and WLF.

March 7, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: International Women's Day Networking Event
Synopsis: In this 2nd annual event, the BC WLF held a networking event at the Kingston pub and also raised money for Ovarian Cancer Canada. (The Vancouver Island WLF also held their 1st International Women's Day event on the same day).

April 11, 2014
Guest Speakers: Alison Wolfe, Shift Works Strategic Inc., and Linda K. Robertson, Advocacy Legal Consultants
Meeting Title/Topic: Lunching with Women Leaders Event #2
Synopsis: The second of this three part series was called "Leaning In Without Falling Over - Building Resiliency for Women Lawyers."

May 15, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: WLF Mentoring Program Potluck
Synopsis: This event was hosted by Kareen Zimmer. The event is open to mentors and mentees enrolled in the WLF's 2014 Mentoring Program, and provided an informal setting to share mentoring experiences and advice.

May 23, 2014
Guest Speaker: N/A
Meeting Title/Topic: Outreach Event held at the Wild Rice Restaurant, New Westminster Quay
Synopsis: 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.

June 7, 2014
Guest Speaker: Alison Wolfe, Shift Works Strategic Inc., and Linda K. Robertson, Advocacy Legal Consultants
Meeting Title/Topic: Lunching with Women Leaders Event #3
Synopsis: The third event in this three part series was called "Leaning In as Leaders: The
Strengths that Women Lawyers Bring to Leadership."

June 18, 2014
Guest Speaker: Selina Koonar, Thelma O'Grady, Valerie Mann, Catherine Sas and Kareen Zimmer
Meeting Title/Topic: WLF AGM and Panel Discussion
Synopsis: The highlight of the networking event and AGM was the panel discussion on the topic "One Workplace, Several Generations."

Mentoring Programs

The WLF's 2014 mentoring program matched approximately 60 pairs of mentors/mentees. 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 2013-2014 and Spring 2014 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 out to our 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.

The WLF Marketing & Communications Committee regularly liaises with the BarTalk editorial board to ensure that we are able to regularly publish guest articles, reports of past events and advertisements for upcoming events.

National WLF Newsletter
The Common Room, is the name of this publication and we cooperate with the National WLF to publish articles and information regarding the BC WLF.

Liaison with other Groups

On November 14, 2013, as the Chair of the BC WLF, I attended the annual in-person meeting of the National WLF, in Montreal, Quebec. This is an annual meeting in which the executive of the National WLF, plus many of the chairs of WLF's from other provinces meet face to face. I also regularly attended the teleconference call meetings that occur monthly. Continued funding for attendance at the annual (face to face) meeting is essential to develop the relationships necessary to ensure that the sharing of information and ideas continues for the benefit of all groups.

As Chair of the BC WLF, I attended all of the Provincial Council meetings held between September 2013 and June 2014. Deborah Taylor, Vice-Chair of the BC WLF, also attended most of these meetings with me. We value the relationship and information exchange opportunities that arise from our participation at Provincial Council meetings.

For the past three years, 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, and Recognition, and we attend quarterly meetings to share ideas. Often this results in opportunities to collaborate on initiatives such as the 2013 meeting with Premier Clark on February 28, 2013.

The BC WLF has regularly participated in the Law Society's Justicia Project meetings.

The BC WLF also participates in meetings of the Equality and Diversity Committee's Diversity initiative to collaborate with other CBABC groups on our shared objectives of creating a more diverse and inclusive profession.

Executive Meetings

The WLF Executive meets on a monthly basis, usually at the CBABC's offices. In addition, the WLF has 4 standing committees (Mentoring, Events, Marketing & Communications, and Education) led by one or more executive members. These committees meet as required, but the Mentoring and Marketing & Communications committees meet at least on a monthly basis.

In addition, two ad hoc BC WLF committees operated during the 2013 - 2014 year: one for the 2015 Awards Event, and a nominating committee for BC WLF succession for the 2014 - 2015 Executive.

Finally, the BC WLF engaged in an annual strategic planning session. This year's planning session was held on June 13 and 14, 2014 and as in previous years, the primary objective is to review the events and activities of the recently completed CBA year and to create the plan for 2014 - 2015 events and activities.

Comments and Observations of the Chair

The BC Women Lawyers Forum has now completed its 11th year of operation. As you are aware, there are now WLF fora 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 with its national and diverse membership, it is able to foster broader exchange of ideas on issues of importance to women lawyers across Canada.

The individual time commitment of the WLF executive for the monthly executive meetings, committee meetings, project and committee work, and events is considerable and as Chair, I was very grateful that so many busy lawyers were willing to give so generously of their volunteer time. We believe that 2013 - 2014 was another successful year for the BC WLF. 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 over the past two years, as well as to serve with the members of the WLF Executives during those times.