While she was articling, Jessica Catton, now a second-year associate at Fasken Martineau Dumoulin LLP, was dreaming up Young Women in Law, a non-profit organization that would give a voice to the growing number of female lawyers. Earlier this year she began developing and marketing the idea and pulling in big name sponsors like Faskens and McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
Unbeknownst to her, Ioana Bala and Tae Mee Park, associates in their third and fifth years respectively, at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP were already running an organization with the same name. They had a listserv with over 50 members, and their pub nights had a stellar reputation for networking.
When the two groups found one another, it was a happy merger. Catton and her crew brought the professionalism and Park and Bala brought the people and the parties.
The three Ps were in fine form at the launch of Young Women in Law at Brassaii on November 16. Over 200 lawyers, many in stilettos and pearls, braved a stormy night to hear from Sue Gaudi, VP General Counsel for The Globe and Mail — but mostly they wanted to hear from one another.
“Now that we’re dispersed all over the city, this is a great chance to catch up with all my female friends from law school,” says Rosario Cartagena, a first year associate at Gowlings. The next big events on YWL’s roster: a professional development night in February and a fashion event in April.
Parties, people and professionalism are fun, sure — but what are YWL’s goals? One goal, according to Bala, is to send a clear message to women who want to have children that private practice is still an option, and that they shouldn’t be forced to consider an alternative career.
Roxanne McCormick, a senior partner at Faskens who sits on YWL’s 11-woman advisory board, says YWL is one way to advance women. “The more opportunities young women take to show how confident they are, the more people will pay attention.”
Photo: YWL directors from left, vice president Emmeline Morse, director of policy and community outreach, Ioana Bala, and Tae Mee Park, director, external affairs.