Women's Law Association of Ontario invites you to join us as we celebrate five inspiring women, and their hard work and dedication,

Women's Law Association of Ontario invites you to join us as we celebrate five inspiring women, and their hard work and dedication, Thursday, June 10th at 6 PM. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you feel might be interested in attending.

WLAO will be hosting a virtual Award Gala to recognize our esteemed 2021 Award recipients. We are honoured to be presenting awards to:

President's Award recipient, Joanna Birenbaum;

General Counsel Chapter Award recipient, Hilda Wong;

Aird & Berlis LLP Equality Award recipient, Natalie Zhang;

The Honourable Sandra Chapnik Women-In-Law Award recipient, Amanda Welton-Hagen; and,

Torkin Manes LLP Trailblazer Award recipient, Madeleine Gottesman.

We are delighted and pleased to have the support of The Honourable Chief Justice George Strathy, The Honourable Doug Downey, and the Treasurer of the Law Society, Teresa Donnelly, who will each be offering their greetings during our presentation.

After the presentation there will be an opportunity to e-meet our award winners. We will also have a live chat session during the program so you can make comments about our amazing award winners!

We have a "Pay as you Can" registration portal in support of our program. Any donation is appreciated but not necessary to attend.
You must register to receive event login details. This event is open to all who would like to attend. There will be an opportunity after the presentation to e-meet all of our Award winners via Zoom at approximately 7PM.

Closed Captioning will be provided.

Please visit our Event Page to register or click here.


Sponsored by:





The Women’s Law Association of Ontario is proud to announce that the 2021 recipient of the President’s Award is Joanna Birenbaum.


Joanna is one of Canada’s leading lawyers in the areas of women’s equality and sexual violence, including civil sexual assault claims, employment law, human rights and workplace investigations, representing complainants in sexual history and records applications in criminal sexual assault proceedings, and defamation law.


Current leading cases in which Joanna is counsel include anti-SLAPP applications in Ontario and B.C. to protect survivors of sexual violence from retaliatory lawsuits in defamation and malicious prosecution, and a systemic equality rights Charter claim against the London Police Services Board for discriminatory investigations of sexual assault.


Joanna also represented the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the archive established to preserve the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s records, in its efforts to preserve the records and history of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
Joanna has lectured and published in the areas of violence against women and women’s equality rights; her most recent publication is a book, co-authored with Professor Karen Busby, Achieving Fairness: A Guide to Campus Sexual Violence Complaints, published by Thomson Reuters (2020).


Congratulations, Joanna! We thank you for your service in helping women attain equality and justice.
Please join us at the virtual WLAO Annual Awards Gala to celebrate Joanna Birenbaum and hear her message to the profession.


2021 General Counsel Chapter Award Winner - Hilda Wong.

Hilda is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for First National Financial LP and oversees all aspects of First National’s legal affairs including formation of legal policy and strategy, compliance and regulatory matters, board and governance matters, contract negotiation and documentation. She is also First National’s Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Anti Money Laundering Officer.

Prior to joining First National in 2007, Ms. Wong was a partner with the national law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and an associate with the law firms of Smith, Lyons LLP and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Ms. Wong holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Toronto and has been in practice since 1993. Ms. Wong also serves as a director on the boards of The Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and the Women General Counsel Canada Network and is a co-founder of the National GC Network.

Please join us at the virtual WLAO Annual Awards Gala on June 10, 2021 to celebrate Joanna Birenbaum, Hilda Wong, and our student award winners.

Congratulations to our Student Award Winners and thank you to the individuals and firms who have supported these awards:
The Honourable Sandra Chapnik Women-in-Law Award
Amanda Welton-Hagen
Windsor University
Faculty of Law
The Aird & Berlis LLP
Equality Award
Ningjing (Natalie) Zhang
Queen’s University
Faculty of Law
The Torkin Manes LLP
Trailblazer Award
Madeleine Gottesman
University of Toronto
Faculty of Law

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5:00 pm

Annual General Meeting (AGM) on December 11th

Please join us Thursday, June 10th for the Annual Awards Gala (Virtual)!
Annual General Meeting / Member
8:45 am - 1:00 pm

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Cultural Competence for Legal Professionals (Online Replay)

Please join us Thursday, June 10th for the Annual Awards Gala (Virtual)!


Women’s Law Association of Ontario
1 Toronto Street, Suite 900
Toronto, ON M5C 2V6



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