On March 8, 2009, International Women’s Day, a trailblazer in the international women’s community passed away. Alison Youngman, 60, a senior partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP, died in her Toronto home of lung cancer.
Born in London, England, Alison arrived in Montreal in 1967 with $200 in her pocket and no plan to speak of. In 1972, after a few years of working abroad, she began her career with Stikeman Elliott as a law clerk. With a keen eye for talent, founding partner Fraser Elliott offered to sponsor Alison through law school. She enrolled at Osgoode Hall in 1981 and returned to the firm to article in 1984.
Alison was not a typical woman lawyer of her generation — when many women opted not to have children so they could compete in a male-dominated profession, Alison forged ahead with her do-it-all
approach. She gave birth to her first son in her final year of law school, and her second in her first year of practise. She was a popular mentor to young women at the firm and can be credited for encouraging Stikeman Elliott to implement a formalized maternity leave policy.
Alison went on to become a powerful presence in the practice of mergers and acquisitions at Stikeman Elliott. Anticipating the technology boom, she pursued a master’s degree in information technology law in the ’90s, and then became the leader of the firm’s technology and outsourcing practice group.
But Alison’s work outside of the firm as a no-nonsense trailblazer for women is what truly defined her. As chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and president of the Canadian chapter of the International Women’s Forum, Alison worked tirelessly to promote women’s issues and bring people together. She is survived by her two sons, Chris and Phil Reineck.