Pro Bono Students Canada

Former Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé Headlines PBSC Toronto Event on International Women’s Day!

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Photo credit: Angle Media Group. From left: The Honourable James Farley, McCarthy-Tétrault; The Honourable Laurel Broten, MPP; Gail Wong, Director of Student Programs, McCarthy-Tétrault; Matthew Kelleher, partner, McCarthy-Tétrault; Madame Justice Claire l’Heureux-Dubé; Nikki Gershbain, National Director, PBSC; Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall; Gordon Baird, Partner, Business Law Group, McCarthy Tétrault, and Chair of the McCarthy’s Pro Bono Committee.

“Bring your values [to the practice of law]”, was the advice former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé gave over 120 PBSC volunteers in Toronto last week on March 8, 20103, International Women’s Day.  Madame L’Heureux-Dubé was the keynote speaker at a final volunteer appreciation luncheon organized by two of PBSC’s largest Canadian chapters, Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto.  The event was moderated – with characteristic humour and charm – by Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin, and generously hosted by PBSC’s National Law Firm Partner, McCarthy Tétrault, LLP.

Madame L’Heureux-Dubé, who celebrated her 85th birthday in October, rarely accepts speaking engagements, but has been a longstanding supporter of PBSC and continues to enjoy meeting with law students.  This is the second PBSC event she has headlined this year, the first being a Q & A in January with volunteers from all 5 Quebec law schools at McCarthy Tétrault’s Montreal office.

Madame L’Heureux-Dubé’s remarks were extremely candid, ranging from reflections on her own judgments to the Court’s recent spousal support decision in Eric v. Lola, and her personal struggles to achieve equality as a young female lawyer in the 1950’s.  Thanking Madame L’Heureux-Dubé, PBSC’s National Director Nikki Gershbain remarked how fitting it was that the event was taking place on International Women’s Day.  She noted: “I can think of no one individual in my lifetime who has done more to promote women’s legal and social equality in Canada than Justice L’Heureux-Dubé. On a day when we are asked to agitate for gender equality and to celebrate women’s achievements, it is our privilege to be graced by the presence of an individual who has helped to lay the foundation for women’s equality in Canada, in so many facets of our lives.”

To thank Madame L’Heureux-Dubé for her participation, PBSC has made a donation in her name to one of our longstanding community partners, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.  The Schlifer Clinic is a specialized clinic for women experiencing violence, named in memory of Barbra Schlifer, a young female law graduate who lost her life to violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario. PBSC was delighted that Schlifer Executive Director Amanda Dale and Legal Director Mary Lou Fassell, as well as several clinic lawyers who work directly with our Toronto volunteers, were able to join us for lunch on March 8th.

Check out our Facebook photo album of the event here.

Click here to watch the video of Madame Justice L’Heureux-Dubé’s conversation with Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Lorne Sossin.

Check out Canadian Lawyer 4Students for some additional photos of the luncheon.