Still Confused About Mansplaining?

Mansplaining is more than a buzzword. The word is descriptive and explains itself. The primary purpose behind mansplaining is to silence a person.

Maybe you’re doubting the reality or frequency of mansplaining, or you’re wondering if there’s any science to back up this phenomena. If so, then check out this video produced by Upworthy showing not only some of the various mansplaining techniques, but also the frequency in which women are silenced from classroom spaces, to office spaces, to traditional media and social media and onwards.

Next time you receive some mansplaining, you may want to consider explaining to them how disrespectful it is to all people.

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Stressed? Send a Note to Future You.

By WLMP/PMDF

No doubt about it. Law school, articling, legal practice and non-law related careers are stressful. At times the stress can seem overwhelming. It can stop you in your tracks, which then creates more stress.

That’s where resilience comes in. Resilience isn’t just the ability to tough something out. It’s the ability to spring back and recover from being knocked off your stride.

Lots of people feel that resilience is something a person is born with, but is it? It’s true that some people are better equipped to handle adversity, bounce back and take criticism constructively instead of defensively. This helps them move forward in all aspects of their lives. However, resilience isn’t something your born with, but it’s something you can develop.

Resiliency is a Skill

What resilient people have in common is their ability to equip themselves with skills and techniques to face challenges. Skills that can be learned and developed over time. Some of the resiliency skills practiced by resilient people include:

  • Managing their emotions so they don’t fall into the trap of catastrophizing a comment or situation.
  • Focusing on the positives and practicing positive self talk.
  • Viewing themselves as gladiators and not victims. They channel their internal Olivia Pope!
  • Stopping, taking a step back and assessing the situation as it really is and not what they perceive it to be.
  • Asking for help and not worrying about how asking for help will look to others.
  • Developing strong personal, professional and mentorship networks.

 Future Self Message Technique

One of the best ideas we’ve come across and wish we’d have known as law students and early in our careers is the stress relief and resiliency technique practiced by LaNia. When she’s stressed, LaNia sends a message to her future self. What makes it more powerful is her use of video messages.

We’ve include her video shared and published in  the Huffington Post entitled “Dear Future Me: Stress Reduction by LaNia“.

Next time you’re feeling stressed. Take a “Future Self Message” break. Stop and ask yourself, “Future me how did I get through this?” Then do what LaNia does and remind yourself that you got through it. Consider recording an uplifting message from your present self to your future self. Remind yourself of your goal and that you achieved it.

This simple technique helps you build resiliency. It forces you to stop and reassess the situation. It helps you get perspective. It facilitates positive self talk. Over time, future self messaging  will become second nature. Soon you’ll be bouncing back faster and stronger!

The WLMP’s Blog Posts to a Young Lawyer are an initiative focused on gleaning advice, including publishing advice from women in the legal community for both law school students and women lawyers in early years of their law careers or non-law careers. If you would like to contribute, then contact us at communications.wlmp@gmail.com.

The WLMP Alumna Needs You!

The WLMP is launching its first WLMP Alumna Chapter in 2016!

The WLMP is looking for women interested in promoting women’s legal mentorship beyond the classroom to join its leadership committee.

It’s a great leadership development opportunity for women law school graduates within beginning of their career.

What Are the Leadership Opportunities on a WLMP Alumna Chapter Committee?
If you…

  • leadership oriented and support the retention of women in the law;
  • want to help women in the legal sector develop personal mentorship networks and develop leadership skills;
  • graduated from a Canadian law school, or obtained a Canadian equivalence of a foreign law degree; and,
  • able to attend the a monthly WLMP Alumna Chapter Committee meeting.

If this sounds like you, then contact the WLMP today at: communications.wlmp@gmail.com

What is a WLMP Alumna Chapter Committee?

The WLMP Alumna Chapter Committee meets once a month. The Committee is responsible for coordinating the Chapter’s events and mentorship networking with the focus on helping former WLMP Alumna connect.

What does a WLMP Alumna Chapter Do?

All WLMP Alumna Chapters focus on helping women connect beyond the classroom. As women law school graduates move into the courtroom and beyond, the WLMP Chapters help WLMP Alumna establish their own personalized mentorship and legal networks. As well as providing a space for both mentorship opportunities and CPD sessions focused on the needs of WLMP Alumna members.

Who can become a member of a WLMP Alumna Chapter?

Membership is free. WLMP Alumna Chapter membership is open to all WLMP Alumna living or working within the region of an operating Alumna Chapter who graduated from a law school and participated in a WLMP Chapter in their law school. All WLMP Alumna Chapter members must be considered to be in good standing.

To learn more about the WLMP Alumna Chapters, please contact the WLMP via email at: communications.wlmp@gmail.com with the subject line [GTA WLMP ALUMNA CHAPTER]

DON’T QUIT — THERE’S A LOT OF LIFE AHEAD!

By Sheila Block

I have been working in the legal profession since 1972, when I began my first job on Bay Street as an articling student. Since that time, I have had three children, been gifted with four stepchildren and blessed with eight grandchildren. For women lawyers who are worried about balancing a career with a family here is my advice for you: Don’t quit before you really start.

First, stop listening to all the negative noise that says it can’t be done.

Consider me “Exhibit A”.  I have had and continue to have a wonderfully fulfilling professional career, one in which I know that I have grown as both a lawyer and a person in ways I would have not if I had given it all up.  Of course it takes effort.

Second, tailor your support network to meet your needs.

You will need support from colleagues, family members, nannies, daycare professionals, teachers, coaches, mentors and countless others to help you and your kids through life and help you through your life as a lawyer.  No one can tell you exactly what combination will work for you.  But, if you want a career and a family—a combination I highly endorse—you will figure it out.

There are many more women lawyers like me who wanted both a career and a family and did it.  You can do it too. Through all the noise about the effort it takes to have a legal career and a personal life, we need more discussion of the immeasurable rewards of the efforts of balancing work and life. These rewards are rarely voiced.

Here are some of the benefits of being a lawyer:

  1. The Fulfillment Factor
    A fulfilling career will keep you intellectually challenged, and allow you to help people solve their problems and, in many cases, provide a good living. Your children will look up to you and admire you. You won’t be at risk of being a fixture in their lives—you will be a role model, an advisor, an inspiration and a friend.  There are, to be sure, other ways to achieve this that don’t require lawyering for a living.  But you are in law school, so you should give a career in the legal profession a fair shot.

For all the young women lawyers and law school students, who worry that having a vibrant and challenging career means they can’t be good mothers, from my observations it is quite the contrary.  I would have been a much less worthwhile mother if I had been unhappy and unfulfilled in my own aspirations and felt as though I had given up on my life’s path to stay home with even the kids I adored (and still adore).  Not everyone is wired this way but a number of us are. 

  1. Your Children Grow Up Fast, Then What?
    Your kids will grow up fast and soon be gone. They will busily build their own lives. Yet, there is a lot potential productivity left in your career, post-childrearing and custodial care years.

When I started practising four decades ago, there weren’t many women role models.  Back then, there were only two women appointed to the Ontario Superior Court bench — Madame Justice Mabel van Camp and Madam Justice Janet Boland.  There were no prominent women counsel in Ontario, other than Margaret Hyndman who was from another era and so singular she couldn’t be emulated.  There was no one out there in the profession to say “don’t quit, you’ve got a lot of life at the law left in your thirties and forties through to your sixties.”  I and many others can say this now. 

  1. What if, I had quit?
    Since my kids left for university, I have had some of my most interesting and challenging cases and legal assignments. If I had packed it in when I was 29, when I first started having children, by the time I returned to practice, I would have lost even the most basic skills acquired during the first few years of practice.

I would have had no real legal contacts and, most depressingly, no confidence in my ability to offer anything to a practice.  Yes, other women have navigated this period in their lives by taking a few years off and then stepping back into the legal world with ease. As I say, this is not a one size fits all solution.  Why think there is only a one size fits all answer? 

  1. Opt In and Watch Your Confidence Grow
    Dropping or opting out of the profession to the point where you feel you can’t step back into it robs you of both your skills and your confidence. I have seen this scenario played out time and again. Women who would have been on a steep and wonderful learning curve had they stayed in practice during those child rearing years could be building up their skills, experience, wisdom and worth as lawyers while also building their wonderful families.  By staying, they would be poised to both guide their growing children as they leave the nest (including these days, in many cases, helping them financially) and keeping their own intellect engaged for many more years of interesting work.

Women who opt in demonstrate to both their children and other young people in their firms that being a good lawyer is not a one-dimensional endeavor.  It’s multi-dimensional.  In fact, as Jim Tory Sr., our wonderful mentor at the firm used to say:  “great people make great lawyers.” 

  1. Take the Long View, Legal Careers Span Decades
    Think about yourself at 45 or 55 and beyond. Project yourself into the future. Where do you want to be?  What do you want to have accomplished or at least attempted to achieve?  There are “easier” lives out there but, as one woman told me, after opting for such a life:  “the hours are short but the days are long.”

 

Finally, if you want to be a senior solicitor or a senior barrister in your chosen field and you also want a family, I know it can be done.  The more women who choose to balance work and family, the better the legal profession will become.

Sheila Block is recognized as one Canada’s top trial and appellate lawyers and one of Canada’s 50 most influential women.  She is a partner at Torys LLP and is a senior trial and appellate counsel with a broad civil litigation practice, including corporate/commercial and securities litigation, intellectual property, defamation and administrative law cases.  Sheila has appeared as counsel at all levels of court in Canada and before international arbitrations and other tribunals.  Sheila is the chair of Torys’ litigation and dispute resolution practice and a former chair of Torys’ Executive Committee

Congratulations class of 2013 / Félicitations à la promotion 2013

Once again, a new crop of legal professionals will be walking across the stage this weekend at the University of Ottawa Common Law graduation. Among the class of 2013 is a group of talented and dedicated women who have contributed to the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program by helping first and second year female students navigate the legal world and build networks that will help them throughout their careers.

On behalf of the entire WLMP, we wish to congratulate our graduating peer mentors, along with the entire class of 2013. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors.  We look forward to having you join us again as legal mentors after your articles.

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Une fois de plus, une nouvelle promotion de diplômés en Common Law traversera la scène ce weekend durant la cérémonie de graduation de l’Université d’Ottawa. Parmi la classe de 2013 se distingue un groupe de femmes talentueuses et dévouées ayant aidé les étudiantes de première et deuxième année, dans le cadre du Programme de mentorat en droit auprès des femmes, à explorer le monde juridique et à tisser des liens qui les aideront au fil de leur carrière.

Au nom de l’ensemble du PMDF, nous tenons à féliciter nos finissantes, ainsi que toute la classe de 2013. Nous vous souhaitons bonne chance dans tout ce que vous entreprenez, nous nous réjouissons de vous compter parmi nous à nouveau en tant que mentors suite à votre stage.