The plush Ultra Supper Club, nestled intriguingly down a narrow laneway on Queen Street West, was the site of Young Women in Law’s second annual Charity Gala Wednesday night, a bustling affair in support of The Belinda Stronach Foundation.
Stronach herself was in attendance to give the keynote address, and generated a steady smattering of camera flashes while bidders circulated around the silent auction. The Stronach Foundation works to support global youth with an emphasis on women and girls by providing assistance in education, health and personal autonomy via community-based programs.
For the YWL, it was a perfect match. “It’s very innovative, it’s new, it has a focus on women’s issues, and it fits with something we want to promote,” says Ioana Bala, the organization’s communications director and an associate at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP. “We want to give our members the opportunity to be involved in community work and pro-bono work, and this isn’t just a one-shot fundraiser – we can maintain a relationship [with the Stronach Foundation] and continue to contribute.”
The large turnout, overwhelmingly female, and thriving conversations at the event seemed an endorsement of the YWL’s mission to assist young women in the legal profession and provide a forum for the challenges they face in their first years after being called to the bar.
Laura Baron, events director at YWL and an associate with Fasken Martineau LLP, points to the organization’s alternative approach to networking and professional support: “I think lawyers sometimes get a bad rap; we’re construed as un-fun, tight-laced people. So one thing that I like about Young Women in Law is that we’re trying to offer different types of events that are maybe a little bit more dynamic and less stuffy than what are generally on-offer to lawyers. We saw a gap, and we filled it.”