The Path to Pay Equity in the Legal Profession: Where Are We Now?

  • March 28, 2023

This meeting was held at 5:00 PM at Richards Buell Sutton LLP in Vancouver, British Columbia and via Zoom.

This meeting was not recorded at the request of the speakers.

Guest Speakers

Nicole Byres, KC, lawyer at Southern Butler Price LLP
Cheryl D’Sa, Managing Partner of Narwal Litigation LLP

Rose Keith, KC, partner at Harper Grey LLP
Emma Abdjalieva, lawyer at Dives, Harper, Stanger & Mizrahi LLP


Book club meeting to discuss the CBABC’s Report Pay Equity in the Legal Profession (2021).


The CBABC’s report Pay Equity in the Legal Profession (2021) outlines the results of a roundtable held by the CBA Women Lawyers Forum in 2021. The goal of the roundtable was to make space for a conversation about gender and pay inequity, gather qualitative data on Canadian lawyers’ experiences, perceptions, and opinions about gender and pay equity in the legal profession, and to explore potential solutions to pay equity challenges. The report highlights that the pay gap is a real, longstanding issue and a common experience for many members of the Canadian legal profession. While improvements in relation to pay inequity have been made over the years, there is still a long way to go and barriers to dismantle.

WLF gathered for a discussion of personal accounts from our speakers and exploration of the four, main factors identified in the report as leading to pay inequity, some of the “wins” and improvements they have seen more recently, as well explore solutions for overcoming:

  • the lack of transparency within firms, and the legal profession more generally, in relation to compensation;
  • the often unspoken undercurrent of female lawyers being penalized for their gender and associated choices/responsibilities (i.e. having children);
  • the allocation of files, with more interesting or substantive matters often being assigned to men; and
  • the general lack of recognition and compensation for non-billable work, which oftentimes falls to females.

The report is available here: Pay Equity in the Legal Profession (

Speaker Bios

Nicole Byres, KC - Nicole is currently part of Southern, Butler, Price LLP’s team of neutral third-party investigators, mediators, and arbitrators, and she is also a member of the Law Society of BC’s Tribunal.  Prior to that she practiced both as in-house counsel and in private practice. Most recently, Nicole spent the last 12 years at Miller Thomson LLP  where she was a member of the firm’s national executive team and first chair of its Inclusion & Diversity Committee.  Nicole was a member of the Women Lawyers Forum Executive for 7 years including Chair from 2012 to 2014, and is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of The Minerva Foundation, whose mission is to change the face of leadership by elevating the visibility, influence, and contribution of women.  

Cheryl D’Sa - Cheryl, a civil litigator and mediator, is the managing partner of Narwal Litigation LLP, an elected bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia since May 2020, Past President of the Vancouver Bar Association and recipient of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 award. In 2021, she was awarded an Excellence Award in the category of Female Trailblazer of the Year by Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Canadian Law Awards. She is currently the Chair of the Law Society’s Equity Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a member of the Credentials Committee and the Mental Health Task Force. She is one of two benchers on the Board of CLEBC and is the bencher representative on Justicia.

Rose Keith, KC - With over 25 years of experience, Rose brings sound judgment and a well-rounded perspective to her general practice, which has provided her with extensive experience in plaintiff’s personal injury matters, workplace law matters and general civil litigation. Throughout her years of practice, Rose has been very involved in mediations as counsel and she is now a Roster member with Mediate BC, with an active and thriving mediation practice. Rose has always enjoyed being a part of the larger legal community and has actively participated in board positions for many different organizations and associations including the Trial Lawyers of BC and the BC branch of the CBA.  She is also an active volunteer with several non-legal, non-profit organizations, such as BC Lupus Society and Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Emma Abdjalieva - Emma practices in the area of general civil litigation, with a focus on medical malpractice, professional liability, personal injury, and occupier’s liability, as well as human rights at Dives, Harper, Stanger & Mizrahi LLP.  She is a Clinic Lawyer volunteer with Access Pro Bono’s Summary Advice Program and is the Education Committee Co-Chair of the Women Lawyers Forum CBA BC Branch.


Duration of meeting was 2.0 hours. Of this, 1.5 hours can be counted towards CPD.

Submitted by Sections Manager: Sianne Petrisor, Canadian Bar Association - BC Branch