By Melanie Hodges Neufeld
Digging through old editions of the magazine, Canadian Lawyer, I came across two articles that highlight the difficulty faced by women in the legal profession in the late 1970s. The first article from December 1977 is entitled “Women in Law: Ladies no longer in waiting” features profiles of female lawyers at the time:
It has probably not escaped the attention of the Canadian legal community that women lawyers have finally and irrevocably arrived. In the last decade, they have arrived in greater numbers than ever before, with more determination and more personal sacrifices than is typically expended by the opposite sex in pursuit of the same goals.
At a best guess, there are approximately 2,000 women lawyers in the country, and the figure is rising rapidly. Indeed, one out of three law school graduates is now a woman. What follows is a cross-section, a national sampling, brief profiles of the young and the not-so-young, the powerful and the less powerful.
The point that emerges most strongly: women lawyers are lawyers who happen to be women and they want the opportunity to practice their profession with as little fuss and bother as possible. And their message to their colleagues and their clients simply is: regard me as your friend or your counsel as you would regard any male lawyer.
Contrast this with an article that appeared in the same publication several months later: “Here’s looking at you, dad: Lawyers through the eyes of their children”. The article contains interviews with several children of male lawyers about their perspective on the profession. Hmm….Not one mom lawyer who is a lawyer who happens to be a mom.
Michael Ryval, “Women in Law: Ladies no longer in waiting” (1977) 1:2 Can Lawyer 17
Martin Freedman, “Here’s looking at you, dad” (1978) 2:4 Can Lawyer 27