The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Beverley Spencer

Message from the editor

When women rule

By Beverley Spencer June 18, 2018 18 June 2018


There’s a lovely line in Beverley McLachlin’s new mystery, Full Disclosure, that will resonate with many readers of the legal persuasion. Her protagonist, whip-smart, red-lipped defence lawyer Jilly Truitt, spots a courthouse photo of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (“when she was young and looked good”) and is reminded that “sometimes, occasionally, women actually do rule.”

Indeed they do. The former Chief Justice, who is putting the mystery genre aside for now to focus on her memoirs, has been an inspiration for a generation of women lawyers who were thrilled to see a brilliant woman take her rightful place at the top of her profession. It matters who’s in charge – and getting more women in leadership positions is really the only way to break the cycle of women leaving the profession, especially in private practice.

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Q&A with Anver Saloojee: Ryerson takes on legal education

By Beverley Spencer March 13, 2018 13 March 2018

Q&A with Anver Saloojee: Ryerson takes on legal education


Ryerson University has ruffled a few feathers with its proposal for a new law school. Law Society of Ontario has approved its program, but some observers wonder whether there’s room for a new law school – and jobs for the additional graduates it would produce. CBA National asked Professor Anver Saloojee, dean of record for Ryerson’s proposal, to elaborate on the school’s plans.

CBA National Does Ontario – or Canada for that matter – really need another law school?

Anver Saloojee Absolutely yes and in particular one that focuses on equity diversity and inclusion, on technological innovation and on access to justice. Ryerson intends to produce graduates whose nimbleness and ability to compete in new ways will enhance access to justice in the province. Technology is creating new opportunities in the legal sector with the legal industry on the cusp of transformation driven by the application of technology to legal work in ways previously not imagined. And the Greater Toronto Area is rapidly emerging as one of the legal innovation clusters in the world.

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Message from the editor

AI and the human equation

By Beverley Spencer March 10, 2018 10 March 2018


Sometimes I worry that the pace of change is accelerating beyond our capacity as humans to manage it. And I’m not alone.

Ken Grady, a professor at Michigan State College of Law, is a self-styled “evangelist for new in law” who is concerned about the budding movement to turn lawyers into technocrats.

His argument (for the full story read “Why we don’t need more STEM grads in law schools”) is this: Society’s move to a hybrid future where artificial intelligence co-exists with humans is challenging laws, values and systems that never contemplated what they are being asked to govern. Sure, we need lawyers with some technical chops, but it’s critical we also train traditional lawyers (among others) who can see the big picture and think through how we marry “human” plus technology in ways that capture our values as a society.

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Message from the editor

Why diversity isn’t a numbers game

By Beverley Spencer December 8, 2017 8 December 2017


If you haven’t read Hadiya Roderique’s blistering account of why she left big law, I’d encourage you to do so. (Called Black on Bay Street, it was published Nov. 4 in The Globe and Mail, and has been widely shared on social media.)

The superbly qualified and well-rounded Roderique – she holds a law degree from U of T, a science degree from McGill, and is a musician and a competitive athlete – landed her dream job on Bay St. where she flourished for several years.

She found it harder to fit in, however, as her career progressed. 

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Religious neutrality

Quebec’s religious neutrality bill: Legal challenges to pile up soon

By Beverley Spencer October 19, 2017 19 October 2017

Quebec’s religious neutrality bill: Legal challenges to pile up soon


It didn’t take long for legal experts to start poking holes in Quebec’s controversial new law which bans face-coverings for public workers and anyone receiving a government service. “I’ve never seen a more flagrantly unconstitutional law,” said Montreal human-rights lawyer Julius Grey. “The possibility that somebody could be refused service at a hospital or be thrown off a bus [because of a face veil] is scandalous,” he told The Globe and Mail.

There are still many unanswered questions, but here’s what is known so far.

The new law

The Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 62 on Wednesday. The stated purpose of the law is to establish the “neutrality of the state” for “communications reasons, identification reasons and security reasons.”  The Quebec Liberals, who hold the majority, voted in favour; the opposition Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, who have argued the legislation doesn’t go far enough, voted against. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre opposes denying services to people with covered faces and says it's unfeasible anyway. The law will go into effect after it receives Royal Assent.

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