Osler was the first large corporate law firm in Canada to admit a woman as a partner, Bertha Wilson, who went on to become the first female Justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Over the decades, Osler’s female leadership has been integral to shaping the firm we are today.
Women in senior leadership roles
Osler’s current leadership team includes Dale Ponder, who was recently appointed as the firm’s first female National Co-Chair in July 2017 after more than eight years as Osler’s first National Managing Partner and Chief Executive. Eight years prior to that she was our National Co-Managing Partner. Sandra Abitan was named the Managing Partner of Osler’s Montréal office in July 2017, and Donna White is our Managing Partner in Ottawa.
Between 2014 and 2017, 47% of our new partners at Osler were women. Maureen Killoran, former Managing Partner of Osler’s Calgary office, was the first woman to be named Managing Partner of a Calgary law firm. Former Senior Montreal Partner, Suzanne Côté, was recently appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in December 2014.
Currently, five Practice Group Chairs at Osler are held by women, including Deborah Glendinning, Co-Chair of our National Litigation Department, who is at the helm of the most significant class action case in the country and was also selected for Benchmark Canada’s Top 25 Women in Canadian Litigation 2014 and The World’s Leading Business Lawyers 2015.
Precedent magazine interviewed a number of female lawyers at Osler in the article “It’s never been better to be a woman in law”. The six female partners interviewed described Osler as a firm that values women, takes an active role in retention of female associates, fosters a mom-supportive cultural tone and promotes an enlightened environment for the next generation. Read Osler Women Play Leading Roles in Big Law for more information about their perspective on being a female lawyer at Osler.
Supporting women from within
We are committed to developing processes and programs to support the professional advancement of our female lawyers at all levels and in all areas of expertise, as well as the balance between career and family demands:
Osler Women’s Event: The women Partners across all offices host an annual event for female associates and articling students to network with female partners in an informal setting.
Osler Women Lawyers Network: As Osler’s newest Legal Professional Resource Group, this network was created by and for members of the Osler community to encourage and support the advancement of women through social and networking events, informal mentoring and coaching, pro bono and volunteer initiatives, business development opportunities, and new recruitment programs.
Supporting family life from within
Alternate Track Policy: Osler’s non-partnership career advancement track offers greater flexibility and work-life balance to our lawyers with family or other external commitments.
Maternity/ Paternity Buddy Program: This program provides guidance and support to both women and men before, during and after parental leave to help them stay connected to Osler activities and assist in the transition back to full-time practice.