100th Anniversary Gala

100th Anniversary Gala a Fantastic Success

The energy in the room was electric and the speakers magnetic as WLAO celebrated their Centenary! With the  beautiful Carlu in Toronto as the backdrop, members and guests enjoyed a delicious meal, the riffs of a talented jazz band (thanks RSM!) and the sharing of experiences and advice from our wonderful keynote speakers, the Honourable Madam Justice Andromache Karakatsanis and the Honourable Madam Justice Suzanne Côté.

WLAO would like to thank everyone who came out to enjoy the festivities at our  Gala Celebration on Wednesday, October 30th! We are especially grateful to our generous sponsors who are listed below, especially our Trailblazers, Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP and Lerners LLP, our leadership sponsors, McCarthy Tétrault LLP and Howie Sachs and Henry LLP, and our reception sponosor Bogoroch and Associates.

The evening was a celebration of both the amazing women who founded WLAO back in 1919, and those who continue to take on the role of supporting their fellow lawyers through the challenges that continue to present themselves. As President Jacquelyn Stevens stated in her closing remarks,

"Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us.  While much progress has been made and is to be celebrated, there remains an ongoing role for the Women’s Law Association of Ontario for the next 100 years. I bet Laura Denton Duff and Helen Currie had no idea in 1919 where the inaugural meeting of the WLAO would lead to, and here we are poised to embark on the next 100 years. As Jennifer [Gold]says in her vice‑president’s message “Go forth this evening with a renewed determination to smash the glass ceiling and change the culture of the legal profession for the better.”

Visit our Gallery for more pictures.

Trailblazer Sponsors










Leadership Sponsors










Reception, Entertainment and Table Sponsors


Organized in collaboration with the Court of Appeal for Ontario and The Advocates’ Society


This three-part series is designed to provide skills training and mentoring to advocates from communities represented in the Roundtable of Diversity Associations (RODA) and to educate faculty about the unique issues facing advocates from these communities. The desired outcomes of this program are:

 To foster an environment for continued, meaningful dialogue between communities represented in RODA, the bench, and other members of the bar.

 To provide communities represented in RODA with a unique training and mentoring opportunity that will enhance their advocacy skills, and provide them with practical advocacy tips and strategies that can be incorporated into their practices.

This three-part program is limited to 32 participants who have been invited to participate on recommendation of their RODA organization. All participants must commit to attending all three parts of the program. This program is best suited for advocates in their third to tenth year of practice who are members of communities represented in RODA and who would benefit from participating in this program. Faculty will include judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, The Advocates’ Society’s skills instructors, and senior members of organizations represented in RODA.

The total cost to attend the entire series is $175 + HST.

Application Form - Deadline Friday, October 11, 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019 – 5:30pm – 7:30pm: Town Hall

The Town Hall will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss their experiences in the justice system and for faculty to learn about these experiences. A panel discussion will be followed by an “open-mike” forum. Participants may bring questions and comments or submit them anonymously in advance. Discussion points from the Town Hall will be used to help generate topics for the Mentoring Dinner. [Estimated Eligible CPD Hours*: 2.0 EDI Professionalism Hours]

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 – 6:00pm – 8:30pm: Mentoring Dinner

The Mentoring Dinner will feature a panel discussion followed by a series of roundtable discussions where faculty members will act as mentors. Participants will be encouraged to share their views on the topics and solicit general or practice-specific advice from mentors, including about relevant advocacy tools and skills. Discussion points from the Mentoring Dinner, as well as the Town Hall, will help to inform the Advocacy Skills Training Program.

[Estimated Eligible CPD Hours*: 1.0 EDI Professionalism Hour; 1.0 Professionalism Hour]

Saturday, May 9, 2020 – 9:00am – 1:00pm or 5:00pm (TBD): Advocacy Skills Training Program

The Advocacy Skills Training Program will allow participants to develop, improve and hone their advocacy skills. Participants will prepare and practise their advocacy skills based on a simulated case file and receive immediate feedback from faculty.

[Estimated Eligible CPD Hours*: At least 0.5 EDI Professionalism Hour; 0.5 Professionalism Hour; 2.5 Substantive Hour]

* These estimates are subject to confirmation as the program draws nearer.

The Advocates’ Society has been approved as an Accredited Provider of Professionalism Content by the Law Society of Ontario.

WLAO Come Celebrate

100th Anniversary Gala on October 30th

On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, the Women's Law Association of Ontario (WLAO) will celebrate our 100th Anniversary at a Gala event at the fabulous Carlu in Toronto, and we invite you to join us!

We are very pleased to have as our keynote speakers the Honourable Madam Justice Côté and the Honourable Madam Justice Karakatsanis of the Supreme Court of Canada.

For 100 years, the WLAO has been a vibrant, active voice for women in the profession and a vital resource to members in their pursuit of fulfilling and successful careers in law, and at the Gala we will launch into the next 100!

If you would like to take a more vital role in our Gala celebration, please consider becoming a Sponsor. We have many levels and opportunities available here.

When: Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Time: 6:00pm to 9:30pm
Where: The Carlu, 444 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 2H4

Dress: Formal

prettyinpictures WLAO gala IMG_0752

Annual Award Gala June12, 2019 - Fantastic!


The 2019 Annual Award Gala was a resounding success. The Rosewater Room in Toronto was filled to capacity as eight dynamic and inspirational women recieved there much deserved recognition.

The evening began with the presentation of the partnered student awards.  Pamela Miehls presented the Aird & Berlis LLP Equality Awards to Alana Robert, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and Stacia Loft, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University

Avril Farlam presented her Advocacy Award to Diana McBey, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University. Diana was unable to attend however her parents Kathy and Rob enjoyed the evening and proudly accepted the award on her behalf.

The Honourable Sandra Chapnik presented her Women-In-Law Award to Rosamund Taylor, Windsor Law, University of Windsor.  Rosamund was chosen for her outstanding dedication to attaining her law degree.

Loretta Merritt of Torkin Manes LLP presented the Trailblazer Award to Nataly Dil, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University.

And Cynthia Mancia presented the Chappell Partners LLP/June Bushell Award to Human Rights Lawyer Lorin MacDonald.

The WLAO General Counsel Chapter Award winner was Mary Martin, recently retired from Metrolinx.

President Jacquelyn Stevens graciously introduced the 2019 President’s Award winner, Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Senior Judge, The Supreme Court of Canada, who gave an inpirational, educational, humourus, and supportive speech to both young and old alike.

Women’s Law Association of Ontario would like to recognize all who have contributed to and helped support to the 2019 celebration.

Thank you to the law firms and lawyers who generously partnered with WLAO to provide the student and lawyer awards including: Aird & Berlis LLP, Avril Farlam, the Honourable Sandra Chapnik, Chappell Partners LLP and June Bushell, Torkin Manes LLP, and the WLAO General Counsel Chapter.

We would like to acknowledge the law firms and organizations that have purchased tables for the Gala: Aird & Berlis LLP, Chappell Partners LLP, Lerners LLP, Torkin Manes LLP, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP, the Law Society of Ontario, and Ryerson University.

We would also like to thank our photographer Julie Williams, Pretty in Pictures, and Chappell Partners LLP, our Accessibility Sponsor.

And finally, our heartfelt thanks to our committed Board of Directors, members, event coordinating team and volunteers - without whom our events and programs would not take place.

Justice Abella 2008

President's Award Winner-The Honourable Madame Justice Abella

Join the Women’s Law Association of Ontario on June 12, 2019 at the Rosewater as we celebrate the 2019 President’s, Student and Young Lawyer Award recipients!
We are honoured to present the 2019 President’s Award to the Honourable Madam Justice Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada for her contribution to the legal community, commitment to the promotion of women in law, and advancement of equality and diversity in the legal profession.
Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 and is the Senior Judge on the Court. She attended the University of Toronto (BA 1967, LLB 1970). She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1972 and practiced civil and criminal litigation until 1976, when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court at the age of 29, the youngest and first pregnant person appointed to the judiciary in Canada. She later served on the Ontario Court of Appeal for 12 years. She chaired the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Justice Abella was the sole Commissioner and author of the 1984 Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of “employment equity.” She was the Boulton Visiting Professor at McGill Law School from 1988 to 1992, where she taught jurisprudence, administrative law, and constitutional law. She is a elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano, was a judge of the Giller Literary Prize, has written over 90 articles, and authored or co-edited four books on a variety of legal topics. Justice Abella chaired the Rhodes Selection Committee for Ontario and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Classical Piano. She has 39 honourary degrees.
She is married to Canadian historian Irving Abella: They have two sons, both lawyers. She is the first Jewish woman and the first refugee appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

New!! Chappell Partners LLP/June Bushell Award for Lawyers

New!! Chappell Partners LLP/June Bushell Award

Submission deadline: May 27th, 2019

This award acknowledges a lawyer who, like June Bushell, experienced and overcame adversity in pursuing a career in law and, despite that adversity, is making a positive contribution through her legal practice.

The award is open to female lawyers with 5 or more years of practice. The recipient will determine to which registered charity a donation of $1000 will be made in her name.

The Applicant’s letter to the reviewing panel should set out her circumstances and be accompanied by two letters of support/reference attesting to the challenges facing, or faced by, the Applicant and her contributions to her clients, community, or the practice of law. These documents should be sent to the WLAO by email to wlao@cogeco.ca no later than May 27, 2019 with the Applicant’s contact information.

The award will be presented in Toronto at the WLAO Awards night on June 12, 2019. The recipient will be invited to a luncheon with the partners of Chappell Partners LLP on a date mutually agreed upon.


2019 Annual Awards

2019 President's Award Nominations and Student Awards Applications are now open. President’s Award deadline March 30th and all Student Awards deadline April 30th.

Save the Date!! The Award Gala is scheduled for June 12, 2019 at the Rosewater Room in Toronto.

President's Award
The WLAO President's Award recognizes a woman who has made a substantial contribution to the legal community as an academic, adjudicator, litigator, solicitor, author, or related profession. The recipient must demonstrate a commitment to the promotion of women in the law and be recognized as a leader. Encompassing the ideals of the Women's Law Association, the recipient of the President's Award will be engaged, aware and connected to issues, substantive and personal, facing women in the legal profession today. The Award may also be presented to a firm or organization exemplifying the ideals for which it is given.

Download Nomination Form (deadline March 30, 2019)

General Counsel Chapter Award
Nomination deadline: March 30, 2019

The WLAO General Counsel Chapter Award, established in 2015, recognizes a member of the General Counsel Chapter for her leadership role and commitment to the success of women in law. Awarded internally.

The Honourable Sandra Chapnik Women-in-Law Award
Submissions deadline: April 30th of the current year

The Honourable Sandra Chapnik Women-in-Law Award recognizes female law students who exemplify the drive and determination to achieve a law degree after having spent time in the workforce.

  • Currently enrolled in an Ontario law school (include transcripts and a CV);
  • A defined need for financial assistance (to be determined at law school with supporting documentation); and
  • An essay of no less than 200 words explaining the above, her past experiences and her future goals.

As a guest of honour at the WLAO Annual Awards dinner in June, the recipient will receive her award and have the opportunity to meet many influential and successful women lawyers, legal educators, and judges from the Toronto area. This award will be administered through the WLAO and Ontario law schools with final selection by a panel consisting of the Honourable Sandra Chapnik and two WLAO board members.

Annual Award Amount: $1,000

Download Application form

Avril A. Farlam Advocacy Award
Submissions deadline: April 30th of the current year

The Avril A. Farlam Advocacy Award is designed to recognize outstanding participation in the legal clinic program of any one of the Ontario law schools to be determined by:

  • Academic achievement (ie. marks);
  • A copy of applicants CV (curriculum vitae), and;
  • Essay of no more than 200 words describing how the applicant believes the legal clinic experience will make her a better lawyer

As a guest of honour at the WLAO Annual Awards dinner in June, the recipient will receive her award and have the opportunity to meet many influential and successful women lawyers, legal educators, and judges from the Toronto area.

Annual Award Amount: $1,000

Download Application Form

Aird & Berlis Equality Award
Submissions deadline: April 30th of the current year

The Women's Law Association of Ontario and Aird & Berlis LLP Equality Award is designed to recognize a woman law student who has dedicated her time and talents to advancing equality rights. The recipient will receive a monetary award of $1000.00. The recipient of the award will demonstrate the following characteristics (for details see application form):

female registered, in good standing, at an Ontario faculty of law and studying for an LL.B, J.D. or LL.M.; and
a record of dedication to advancing equality rights (such as, but not limited to religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, mental health, refugee, aboriginal, minority and HIV/AIDS victim's rights).
As a guest of honour at the WLAO Annual Awards dinner in June, the recipient will receive her award and have the opportunity to meet many influential and successful women lawyers, legal educators, and judges from the Toronto area. Funds are available for accommodation and travel costs to Toronto for the recipient to attend the Awards dinner.

To obtain an application form please contact your law school’s Career Services office or contact Women's Law Association of Ontario directly.

Download Application Form

Torkin Manes LLP Trailblazer Award
Submissions deadline: April 30th of the current year

Torkin Manes LLP and WLAO have established the Trailblazer Award to recognize a female law student for her leadership role in business and the law (this could be corporate/commercial, not-for-profit, or entrepreneurial). This award is given to a student that best exemplifies the qualities of effective business leadership, innovatively applied know-how, and potential for growth. The award (with a monetary award of $1,000) will be presented at a gala dinner in June 2018.

The recipient of this award will demonstrate the following qualifications and characteristics:

  • female student registered in 2nd or 3rd year and in good standing at an Ontario faculty of law, and studying for a J.D. or LL.M. (the successful candidate will likely be enrolled in a joint J.D./LL.M. and MBA degree program);
  • an acknowledged leader, actively demonstrating the promotion of women in business;
    exceptional legal expertise and proven business acumen; and
  • demonstrates an entrepreneurial and business focused spirit, with a strong sense of how to put a project or idea into action.

Please return completed application form along with a letter of merit (not to exceed two pages) outlining the candidate’s qualifications for this award. If appropriate, please provide supporting documentation (i.e. letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae).

Download Application form

1:00 pm

19th Annual Deb Snead Memorial Golf Event - August 22, 2022

17th Annual Golf Event on September 17th! Support WLAO through a donation/sponsorship and/or come out to play!
Special Events
6:00 pm

Town Hall Mentoring Event - September 13, 2022

17th Annual Golf Event on September 17th! Support WLAO through a donation/sponsorship and/or come out to play!


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