President’s Report

  • November 09, 2018

The month of October began and ended faster than a hiccup for me but filled with uplifting experiences along the way.

Women In Leadership In Law

Women in leadershipI began October at a gathering of global bar association and law society leaders to celebrate the Opening of the Legal Year of England and Wales.  Federation of Law Societies President Sheila MacPherson and International Bar Association Vice-President Jim Klotz joined me for the event.  Upon arrival at the Law Society of England and Wales, the pictured booklet greeted me on my chair.  The opening panel discussion led by their President Christina Blacklaws discussed the development of the toolkit that features specific calls to action in five key areas: unconscious bias, gender pay gap, women’s history in law, male champions for change, and global sisterhood. I encourage all members to spend the fifteen minutes it will take to review the toolkit to choose among the calls to action to undertake.

We have our own challenge within our volunteer leadership. Currently, our national Board is composed of ten men and four women due to a lack of women applicants this past year.  While we currently have nine women Branch Presidents, this will drop to four next year and remain at four the following year based upon the current Branch officers.  We can and ought to do better.  The recent Globe and Mail article noting that, for the first time this year, women outnumbered men among applicants for federally appointed judicial positions heartened me and I encourage all of our women members to seek positions within our volunteer leadership for next year and beyond.

Congratulations Women Lawyers Forum

On October 27, Sections Subcommittee Chair Audrey Ramsay presented the CBA National Section Award of Excellence to the Women Lawyers Forum.  The WLF has achieved 15% growth in membership over the past two years, making it our fastest growing Section and the growth rate has accelerated even more this year.  Their Twitter followership has more than doubled in the past year (check them out @CBA_WLF) and they continue to deliver exceptional events across the country for our women members.  The biennial Leadership Conference for Professional Women is a consistent success, with the next edition scheduled for Halifax in October, 2019.  With funding support from the Law Fund for the Future Foundation, the WLF this year is undertaking a compensation survey of Canadian law firms to identify the extent of any pay gap and contributing factors.  Congratulations to the Women Lawyers Forum; thanks too, for all that you are doing.

Leadership Forum

Our first Leadership Forum meeting of the year took place on October 18.  Participants in our Leadership Forum include the Board of Directors, the Branch Presidents, the Sections Subcommittee, the Young Lawyers Section Chair, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association Section Chair, and the national Management Team.  We convened to share our respective priorities for the current year to identify areas for collaboration and to share ideas with each other.  Exciting work is underway across the country that will increase our advocacy reach among smaller and medium Branches, revitalize struggling Branch sections, enhance member engagement and implement our Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report commitments.  Some of the innovative projects underway across the CBA include:

  • The Innovator-In-Residence program launched by the Ontario Bar Association in August.
  • An access to justice pilot project in the Nova Scotia Branch to expunge historically unjust convictions in partnership with SOGIC and the Military Law Sections.
  • An advocacy effort in the Alberta Branch to address the distribution of property between unmarried couples upon relationship breakdown.
  • Engagement of law students by the Saskatchewan Branch in their sections by reducing the cost of section meetings for law students (who says there is no free lunch?).
  • Expansion of professional development for members of the Nunavut Branch through their partnership with the Ontario Bar Association and a similar expansion arising from the partnership between the British Columbia and Alberta Branches through their CBA West Conference.
  • A joint production between the Manitoba Bar Association and a local theatre group to raise funds for the theatre – I am looking forward to the rehearsal outtakes already.

Podcast

Earlier this week, I began recording a series for the new CBA podcast channel, The Every Lawyer.  The series is called Conversations With the President, where I get to speak with Canadian lawyers about their experiences with exclusion so we can collectively work to improve.  I asked one of my early guests at the end of our conversation “What can we and our peers do to ensure that our children are not having this same conversation in twenty years?”  The answer he gave started and ended with education.  The first episodes will be released in November.  You can find The Every Lawyer on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Stitcher – wherever you listen to podcasts.  Please subscribe to receive notifications for new episodes.  To hear us in French, listen to our Juriste Branché podcasts.

Making History

On August 31, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, appointed John Bodurtha as judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.  I have known John for over 20 years since our time at the Dalhousie Law School where John had a year’s edge on me and through our occasional work since on the opposite sides of tax disputes.

I proudly sat in the audience for John’s robing ceremony on October 19, with the pictured Nova Scotia Branch President Gail Gatchalian representing the CBA.  I learned that day that Justice Bodurtha is the first black judge appointed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in the approximately 250-year history of the Court.  While proud of my friend, I was shocked to learn of this glaring omission and pleased that Minister Wilson-Raybould is working to improve the diversity of our Courts nationally.  During his speech, John spoke eloquently about his experiences with racism in Nova Scotia, promising to share those experiences with his judicial colleagues.  Congratulations to John, his family, and other trailblazers past and future who are persevering to pushing through to bring needed perspectives to our judiciary.

Stay In Touch

I continue to tweet regularly about CBA activities across the country from @RayAdlington.  I will also be occasionally publishing or re-posting interesting articles using LinkedIn to share with our members.  Please engage with me through these channels or by email at president@cba.org anytime this year to discuss anything related to the CBA or our initiatives.

Inclusion Moment

In keeping with my theme for the year of promoting inclusivity within our profession, I will close each month by sharing something I have found thought provoking.  First up, this 60-second video on YouTube.  Posted on International Women’s Day earlier this year, this clip simultaneously highlights progress and continuing challenges in achieving gender equality.  What struck me the most about the video is the power of someone standing up and saying ‘This isn’t right’ and the positive change that can follow that courageous first step.  While this video speaks to gender equality, I believe the same principle applies in any context we observe inequity and hope we continue to stand up for equality.