Precedent Setter Awards 2021: Pam Hrick

Meet the lawyer who’s fighting for equality on behalf of women and gender-diverse people
Portrait of Pam Hrick
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When the job posting went up last November for the role of executive director and general counsel at LEAF, a leader in Canadian feminist litigation, Pam Hrick didn’t think she qualified. Sure, she had clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada. She’d built a practice over five years at Stockwoods LLP that included constitutional law, administrative law and judicial review. She’d represented sexual-assault complainants pro bono and was even a member of LEAF’s own committee on technology-facilitated violence against women. But executive director and general counsel? She figured that was for someone further in her career.

Portrait of Pam Hrick

Pam Hrick

Executive director and general counsel, LEAF
Year of Call: 2014
Law School: Queen’s University

Still, the posting caught Hrick at an auspicious time. “Like a lot of folks, I’d been doing some thinking during the pandemic about whether I was using my passions and any talents to the greatest extent possible,” says the 37-year-old. Hrick has long been oriented toward social justice: raised in London, Ont., by a single mother, she’d seen up close the strength of women as well as the institutional barriers they face. So she sent LEAF an application — and walked away with the gig. Now she’ll lead the organization in its work to achieve equality for women and gender-diverse people through litigation, education and law reform.

“Pam is a powerhouse, particularly when it comes to her fight against unfairness and injustice,” says Luisa Ritacca, the managing partner at Stockwoods. In March, Hrick handled her last file as a Stockwoods lawyer, serving as co-counsel to Start Proud and Guelph Queer Equality, two organizations acting as intervenors when the Ontario government appealed a decision that struck down its “Student Choice Initiative.” This initiative would allow post-secondary students to opt out of paying fees that fund services the government deems “non-essential” — services like food banks as well as student centres for women, trans folks and gender-diverse people. “I was delighted to work on this file and litigate for the LGBTQ2S community to which I belong,” says Hrick, who is married to visual artist Kristyn Watterworth. (At press time, the court hadn’t ruled on the case.) Beyond her legal work, Hrick also chairs the board of The 519, an LGBTQ2S service and advocacy organization. “I strive to create space for members of historically marginalized groups to be heard,” says Hrick, “and amplify their voices.”

This story is from our Summer 2021 Issue.

Photography by Saty + Pratha; set design by Kristen Lim Tung; hair & makeup by Caroline Levin / P1M.