March 4, 2021
International Women's Day
March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day that recognizes and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls globally. This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge. Throughout history, many women have had to challenge gender-bias, inequality and legislation to enter the legal profession.

In 1891, Clara Brett Martin submitted a petition to join the Law Society of Upper Canada as a student member so she could article as a clerk but was rejected based on her sex. After a contentious debate, a new bill that challenged the interpretation of the word "person" in the Law Society of Upper Canada's statute insisted that it should be interpreted to include females as well as males. Clara was called to the bar in 1897, making her the first woman to become a lawyer in both Canada and the British Commonwealth.

Closer to home, the Law Society of Alberta admitted its first female lawyer, Lilian Ruby Clements in 1915 and in 1954, Canada’s first Black female lawyer, Violet King Henry, was called to the Alberta bar. In 1977, Marion Ironquill Meadmore became Canada’s first Indigenous female lawyer when she was called to the bar in Manitoba.

By challenging the laws and social paradigms that barred them from the legal profession, these women paved the way for future generations of women to pursue their own legal careers.

Bencher Profile Series: Kene Ilochonwu
Bencher Profile Series: Stacy Petriuk, QC
When Kene Ilochonwu took his seat at the Bencher table in February 2021, he was not only eager to represent the many lawyers who, like himself, are early in their careers and internationally trained, but also to represent an important first for the Law Society of Alberta, being elected as the first Black Bencher.

“The victory is not for me, it’s for the Law Society. If I am confirmed to be the first Black Bencher, the victory is for Alberta as well. Black people have gone through a lot with the Black Lives Matter movement,” says Kene. “Every single win is appreciated; every single win is celebrated, just because we don’t seem to win a lot.”

While acknowledging and celebrating his new role, Kene is already looking to the future to pave an easier road for those coming after him.

“Personally, it’s a challenge. I can’t remember who said it but the reward for hard work is more hard work. It’s a challenge for me to do well. If I do well, I will not be the only one. There will be more coming. If I do well, those people who voted for me will know that they made the right choice. If I do well, I’ll be making myself proud, my company proud and my family proud.” Read Kene's full profile.
Now serving her second term on the Law Society board, Stacy Petriuk acknowledges with a laugh that her understanding of the day-to-day work of the Law Society - and what her eventual commitment would be – is quite different in 2020 than what she had imagined when she decided to run in 2017.

“It’s a like when someone tells you that as a parent, you’re just never going to have enough sleep ever again; you just sort of brush it off and say to yourself ‘that can’t be right’, until it happens to you. The scale and scope of the work that you can perform as a Bencher is such that it might help to a certain extent to go in a little bit ignorant of what you’re committing to, or else it would be too overwhelming.”

Born and raised in Calgary, Stacy has spent most of her career with Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes LLP (JSS Barristers), starting as the firm’s first-ever associate and eventually as managing partner from 2015 to 2018. Her practice focuses exclusively in civil litigation, with an emphasis on professional negligence defence work and commercial litigation. Read Stacy's full profile.
Keep an eye out for other Bencher profiles featured in future eBulletins.
Court of Appeal of Alberta: Notice to the Profession and Public

Effective March 15, 2021, the Court of Appeal of Alberta Practice Direction on Electronic Filing is amended as follows:

1. Delete section 10(c) and replace it with the following:

  • (c) A factum and extracts of key evidence must be filed as separate documents.

2. Delete section 15(b) and replace it with the following:

  • (b) Where an affidavit is filed electronically, the requirements set out in rule 13.41(4) of the Alberta Rules of Court apply.
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