This year’s list of the top women lawyers of Canada features practitioners from the country’s top law firms and in-house counsel of large companies.
The Women’s Executive Network list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women, released yearly by WXN celebrates the achievements of women lawyers.
This year the list comprises 21 women lawyers representing a variety of backgrounds and industry leadership. A gala event was held on Nov. 24 in Toronto to felicitate the winners.
Having A Mentor Made The Difference
For the women featured in the list, the right mentor was pivotal for their careers.
Claire Kennedy, partner at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto, calls Judy Goldring, the former chairwoman of the board at University of Toronto, a “helpful sounding board” who was also one of those who nominated her . Kennedy just began a term as the chairwoman of the university’s governing council this year.
Kennedy also serves on other boards and is an executive of the International Fiscal Association’s Canadian branch as well as an officer of the International Bar Association’s taxes committee.
According to Kennedy, lawyers are a “natural fit” on boards as they already have a lot of governance expertise along with specific domain expertise. She advises the women interested in joining a board for the first time to look at the not-for-profit sector.
She noted that it helps to develop “board skills” and such roles are also a “good networking opportunity”.
For those interested in getting leadership positions, , Kennedy states that being flexible and having the ability to “identify and being ready to jump on new areas of law” was important, pointing out to examples like marijuana practice and cybersecurity which are big now but weren’t five years ago.
Her advice to women is to “seize the opportunity when it arises.”
According to Nadia Petrolito, vice president and general counsel at L’Oréal Canada, being “powerful” is having the ability to bring about change. Petrolito joined the company in 2006 and was leading the legal department shortly after.
Carol Derk of BLG highlighted the increasing presence of women in management levels of law firms and in roles of general counsel of major corporations, to indicate the rising gender diversity in the field.
In-house & Business
- Norie Campbell – TD Bank Group, group head and chief general counsel
- Nadia Petrolito – L’Oréal Canada’s vice president and general counsel and chief communications officer,
- Shannon Rogers, – Global Relay’s president and chief legal officer
- Joanna Rotenberg – group head for both BMO Wealth Management, BMO Financial Group
- Manuelle Oudar, president and CEO for Commission des normes, de l’équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail
- Laurel C. Broten, – Nova Scotia Business Inc’ president and CEO
- Carol Derk, partner, in the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Toronto
- Melinda Park, partner BLG with its securities and capital markets group
- Caroline Zayid, partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP and its national litigation practice group leader,
- Sharon Geraghty, partner at Torys LLP, M&A, corporate governance and securities law
- Janet Grove, managing partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP
- Claire Kennedy, Bennett Jones LLP, corporate tax and transfer pricing lawyer
- Valerie Mann, Lawson Lundell LLP, M&A lawyer
- Lisa Munro, Lerners LLP (Toronto), executive committee member and managing partner
- Nancy Hill, founding partner of Hill & Schumacher Professional Corp.
- Melinda Park, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP – partner and chairwoman of the board
- Cheryl Reicin, Torys LLP, partner and co-chairwoman
- Lisa Phillips, provost and professor, Osgoode Hall Law school, York University
- Samantha Horn, partner, Stikeman Elliott LLP. Also belongs to WXN Hall of Fame.
- Dale Ponder, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP., managing partner and chief executive officer.Also belongs to WXN Hall of Fame.