Posts Tagged ‘roundtable discussion’

On Thursday January 26th from 12 – 1:30 in room 205, the Feminist Legal Forum and the Business Law Group will be hosting a panel discussion on “Women in Corporate Law: Is the Gender Divide Fact or Fiction?” This exciting panel discussion is sponsored by the Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law. The Desautels Centre will be providing lunch. Please RSVP to flf.robsonhall@gmail.com Space is limited.

This event will query the existence of a gender divide in corporate law. Today, more than half of law school grads are women, yet women remain starkly underrepresented in senior positions in law firms. Particularly in corporate law, there is an apparent thinning of the ranks when looking at women in private practice at the senior level. Yet, many women in corporate/commercial law have chosen alternative careers that see them occupying positions of even greater power. So is there a gender divide? If so, what impact does it have on the gender divide? What are we doing about it? What should we be doing about it?

The FLF and BLG have invited 4 guest speakers to join us as panel members. Eleanor Wiebe, Q.C. is a partner with Fillmore Riley LLP and has practiced commercial law for over 25 years. She was the second woman in Fillmore’s history to become a Fillmore partner. Margaret Redmond is the President and CEO of the Assiniobine Park Conservancy. Ms Redmond  served as a Chief Strategic Officer at the Canadian Wheat Board as well as Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary over an eleven year period. Linda Vincent is the Vice President of ICE Futures Canada Inc, which is is dedicated to providing a public marketplace for responsive price discovery and risk  transfer of commodities with efficiency and integrity. She articled and practiced with TDS for six years before joining the Manitoba Securities Commission in 1992 as Assistant Counsel. Ms Vincent joined the Winnipeg Commodities Exchange (now ICE Futures) in 1998. Mary McGunigal has been a Crown Counsel with Civil Legal Services SOA of Manitoba Justice since 1999. She works in the area of corporate commercial law. Prior to joining the Manitoba government, she was associated with the firm of D’Arcy and Deacon LLP. These four panellists will be sharing their thoughts and experiences with us in a discussion moderated by Prof. John Pozios, Director of the Desautels Centre.

There is a lot to discuss on this topic. To get your thoughts flowing, check out some of the links below:

Survey Reveals Profile of Unhappy Worker: She’s Unmarried, 42, and a Lawyer or Doctor

Maureen Sabia: She means business

The 10 Worst Stereotypes about Powerful Women

LSUC Justicia Project and Justicia Project firm committment (Note: The Law Society of Manitoba is implementing the Justicia Project and it will be adapted for Manitoba based on the LSUC model, which is part of a national law societies initiative to implement the Justicia Project in other jurisdictions. Karen Clearwater and Brenlee Carrington are the two lawyers co-chairing the LSM Justicia implementation committee with the guidance of LSM deputy CEO Marilyn Billinkoff and the Equity Committee. They are in the very early stages at the moment.)

LSUC Extends Justicia Project

Glass Ceiling Still Exists

Why SuperMom is Leaving the Law Firm

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R v Rhodes caused several media uproars and made national news. Better known as the “Justice Dewar case”, Rhodes encapsulates much of the systemic discrimination that remains in sexual assault law. You’ve heard about the case in the news, now you have the chance to learn more about the decision and the fall-out and to discuss your thoughts on the issues. Join the Feminist Legal Forum on Thursday December 1st from 12 -1 in room 308 for “Debriefing R v Rhodes“. Leading Manitoba feminist sexual assault law scholar Karen Busby will be facilitating the discussion.

For those who are interested, the Manitoba Court of Appeal will be hearing the Rhodes appeal on November 30th at 9:30. As the Crown and defence have agreed there should be a new trial, the appeal is likely to be quite short.

If you’d like to do a bit of thinking about the case in advance of the roundtable, we recommend you read Prof. Busby’s blog post, which includes links to the conviction and sentencing transcripts, media reports, and LEAF’s motion for leave to intervene. The blog post can be found here

Karen Busby worked with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund on their motion to intervene in the Rhodes case. She has been with Robson Hall’s Faculty of Law since 1988. She researches in the area of sex, sexuality and violence.  She was an active participant in cases and other law reform efforts directed at the recognition of same-sex relationships and has worked on challenges to the bawdyhouse/indecency laws, reform of age of consent laws and gender identity issues. She has worked on numerous research projects on gendered violence including sexual assault, girls involved in prostitution, sexual expression, and the implementation of civil domestic violence legislation. She appeared as counsel in the Supreme Court of Canada in Little Sisters, a case about the discriminatory treatment of LGBT bookstores by Canada Customs. She teaches constitutional law, administrative law and gender and the law.

She has received numerous awards recognizing her human rights work including the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2007); Man. Bar Ass’n “Pro Bono” Award (2005); Can. Bar Ass’n’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference “Hero” Award (2004); LAMBDA Magic “Community Changer” Award (2002); UofM Community Outreach Award (1996). Prof. Busby was inducted into the Q (Queer) Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011.

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By Professor Karen Busby

In early 2011, a police officer in Toronto advised a group of law students that women who dress like sluts should expect to be victimized. Soon afterwards, Mr Justice Robert Dewar of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench gave sentencing reasons from the bench that invoked similar beliefs. He found that mitigating factors in sentencing in a major sexual assault included that the complainant provoked the assault because she wore high heels, heavy make-up and a tube top.  He found that “sex was in the air” and that the defendant was a “clumsy don juan”. The defendant and the complainant, a much younger and smaller aboriginal woman, had known each other for about 20 minutes before the assault occurred. She had rebuffed his sexual advances; picked up a stick to use in self defence; and asked him in the course of the assault if he was going to kill her.  She had bruises on her backside and legs as well as cuts from running through the forest half dressed following the assault. Yet even after making these findings and rejecting the defences of consent and mistaken belief in consent, Dewar was obviously of the view that the complainant bore some responsibility for what had happened.

As happens in most sexual assault cases, the reasons on conviction and sentencing were not issued as formal reasons and therefore would have escaped any public scrutiny except that a Winnipeg Free Press reporter happened to hear about them. (He may or may not have been in court–this is not clear to me.) When the paper published the story, it was picked up across the country in a wave of indignation. Three weeks later, the newspaper received the sentencing transcript and posted it to their website.

Complaints were made to the Canadian Judicial Council about Dewar’s comments in the sentencing decision by various individuals including the Manitoba minister responsible for the status of women. The Crown filed an appeal against sentence. In August an appeal date of November 30 was set.

LEAF monitored the proceedings and in mid-October, upon seeing the Crown’s appeal factum, realized that the sentencing appeal had been abandoned and that the Crown had conceded that a new trial was necessary because of WD problems. (The SCC has recognized that WD’s complex formula for assessing credibility is a fertile ground of appeal in mistaken belief cases.)  The defendant’s position was that a directed acquittal was required.  LEAF filed an application for leave to argue that

  • There was no air of reality to the defendant’s assertion of mistaken belief that the WD credibility assessments did not need to be made.  The judge found an air of reality to the claim only because of his mistaken reliance on discreditable stereotypes.
  • Expose how discriminatory beliefs operated in the case.
  • Examine how these beliefs present additional barriers for indigenous complainants.

Like the sentencing decision, the conviction transcript(which LEAF received finally on October 21) reveals that the trial judge made his decision in reliance on stereotypical beliefs about women who alleged that they have been sexually assaulted.  In fact, the conviction transcript is in some ways more problematic than the sentencing decision. The opening line is “After a night of drinking when four people decide to climb into a car around 2:30 am to continue to party rather than head home to their own beds, something bad is bound to happen.”

The Winnipeg Free Press under a front page banner headline wrote an story outlining LEAF’s position. It also published a sidebar on Statistics Canada data on the dismissal prosecution of sexual assault cases in Canada and even more dismissal record in Manitoba—figures set out in the LEAF factum.    Only 31% of sexual assault cases on Manitoba result in a guilty verdict (Compared to 43% Canada wide) ad 67% if sexual assault cases in Manitoba are stayed before trial (compared to 46% Canada wide.) This paper then published an editorial calling for an explanation for the dismissal record. This story was picked up by other media including newspapers across the country. The Crown lashed back stating that the Statistics Canada figures were wrong. Its protestations are unconvincing–but the technical details of that story are for another blog.

The intervention hearing did not go well. The motions judge was critical of the media coverage and suggested that LEAF had activated its media machine. The defendant abandoned the appeal for an acquittal.

In mid-November, the CJC issued its decision. It found that Dewar’s conduct fell short of what was expected of a judge. However in light of his sincere apology and his willingness to take gender sensitivity training, no formal sanction was necessary. The CJC made no comments on the sentencing decision stating that this matter was before the Court of Appeal.  This assertion was, by the time it was made, inaccurate as the Crown had already abandoned the sentence appeal.  A few days later, the motions judge denied LEAF intervenor status on the ground that it was raising new issues.

It will be interesting to see what the Court of Appeal now does on November 30. In light of the Crown defence agreement that a new trial is necessary, it is possible–perhaps likely–that the court will simply issue a short decision making such an order.  One can only hope that they will take this case as an opportunity to comment on the trial judge’s appalling comments in the two Rhodes decisions and perhaps to acknowledge that judges, prosecutors and the police need to do more to address systemic discrimination in sexual assault cases in Manitoba.

Karen Busby is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba and is the Academic Director of the Centre for Human Rights Research. On Thursday December 1 from 12 -1, Prof. Busby will be joining the FLF to facilitate a roundtable discussion on the Rhodes case.

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Our discussion on “Feminism and Law in Today’s World” with Dean Turnbull has been re-scheduled for Monday October 3rd from 12 – 1 in Room 308.

Please see https://feministlegalforum.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/feminism-and-law-in-todays-world-a-roundtable-discussion-with-dean-dr-lorna-turnbull/ for more information on this fantastic roundtable discussion!

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The FLF is thrilled to announce our first roundtable of the 2011/2012 academic year. Join us on Monday, October 3 from 12 – 1 in room 308 for a discussion of Feminism and Law in Today’s World, facilitated by Dean of Law, Dr. Lorna Turnbull.

This discussion is an opportunity to come and consider the question of how feminism and law intersect today. What can feminism offer? How might it apply? What areas of law are lacking in feminist approach? If you are new or old to the idea of feminism and law, this is a great discussion to attend to learn more and share your thoughts.

If you would like to do some thinking about this topic in advance of the roundtable, Dean Turnbull has suggested a short reading. Find it here! 

Dr. Lorna Turnbull has been a Faculty member at Robson Hall since 2001. Between 2005 and 2010, Dean Turnbull was the Associate Dean of Students. After filling the role of Acting Dean for the 2010/2011 year, Dr. Turnbull was named Dean of the Faculty. Dean Turnbull completed her Master of Laws at Columbia University with an LL.M thesis of “A Feminist Theory of Law and Social Change? A Beginning”. Dean Turnbull’s J.S.D. (Doctor of the Science of Law), also from Columbia, was written on “Bearing Children, Bearing Burdens.” Dr. Turnbull researches women’s equality as shaped by laws related to economic rights and obligations, workplace regulation and social inclusion as these impact upon care for dependents. Her primary teaching interests include international and domestic human-rights law, taxation law and policy, gender and equality and women’s rights in a global context. Her 2001 book, Double Jeopardy: Motherwork and the Law, is considered “essential reading” on the topic and has been widely credited for being accessible to lay audiences in addition to academics.

We hope you will join us for this exciting discussion!

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Welcome back everyone! The FLF has a great year planned. Here’s a preview!

First Meeting and Button Making Party!

Monday, September 12th at 12 in Room 207. Join us to learn more about the FLF, our plans for the year and how to get involved, then stay for a super fantastic button making party!

Take Back the Night

Thursday, October 20th at 6 pm. March with the FLF!

Feminism and Law in Today’s World: A Roundtable Discussion with Dean Lorna Turnbull

Monday, October 3rd at 12 in Room 309. Bring your lunch and come learn about and discuss the role of feminism and law today.

20th Annual Person’s Day Breakfast

Friday, October 21st at 7am at the Convention Centre. LEAF Manitoba puts on this fantastic event every year. Stay tuned to find out how you can attend.

A Feminist Approach to Torts: A Roundtable Discussion with Dr. Jennifer Schulz

Wednesday, November 2 at 12 in Room 309. Who is the reasonable person? Join Prof. Schulz for a discussion on feminism and torts law

A Briefing of Rhodes: A Roundtable Discussion with Prof. Karen Busby

Thursday, December 1st from 12 – 2 in Room 309. Join Prof. Karen Busby to learn more about the Rhodes case, more infamously known as the “Justice Dewar case”. This timely discussion will follow an FLF field trip to watch the Rhodes appeal on Wednesday November 30 at 9 am at the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

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The FLF is excited to announce our second roundtable of the year, “girls club? Feminism in Law School and in Legal Practice”, facilitated by Dr. Jennifer Schulz.

The roundtable will be held on Monday, October 25th from 12 -1 in room 308. Dr. Schulz has done some fascinating work on women, law, mediation and television, and this promises to be an extremely interesting and engaging roundtable discussion. The title of the roundtable and the suggested reading is based on a short-lived television show about 3 female junior lawyers, called girls club.

Dr. Schulz has suggested a short chapter as reading for the roundtable for attendees looking to get some context.  If you’re looking for some thought provoking reading prior to the roundtable, find it here: Jennifer L. Schulz, “girls club does not Exist”  in M. Asimow, ed., Lawyers in Your Living Room!  Law on Television, (Chicago:  ABA Press, 2009) at 243-251.

Dr. Jennifer L. Schulz is Associate Dean (Research & Graduate Studies) and an Assistant Professor at Robson Hall. Dr. Schulz teaches and researches in the areas of negotiation and mediation, law & film and torts.  Dr. Schulz specialises in dispute resolution.  Previously, Dr. Schulz was an invited research fellow at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and the Associate Director of the LL.M. in ADR program at Osgoode Hall Law School.  Dr. Schulz is the recipient of a SSHRC grant, has won a “Professor of the Year” Award, is a practicing mediator, and is currently researching the depiction of conflict resolvers in popular culture media.

We are really looking forward to what promises to be a fascinating discussion and hope to see you all there!

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