Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

July 13, 2005 10:32 ET

Law Society Honours Legal Prof. Elizabeth Sheehy

Presents Honorary Doctorate and Calls 187 New Lawyers to the Ontario Bar Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Photo Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 13, 2005) - Women accounted for 66 per cent of lawyers called to the Ontario bar today by the Law Society of Upper Canada, at a ceremony in which an honorary doctorate was presented to well-known women's advocate Professor Elizabeth Sheehy, of the University of Ottawa.

The Law Society called a total of 187 new lawyers (28 per cent of whom are Francophone) to the Bar during the ceremony at the National Arts Centre, in which eight graduating students from the Ottawa area received awards. A total of 124 women were called to the Bar at this ceremony, continuing a trend seen in the last five years.

Law Society Treasurer George D. Hunter congratulated the graduates and noted, "Today you have become part of a profession that is based on traditions of service. You can provide service in many ways and help to make a difference and to advance justice. As lawyers you will play a critical role in making legal services more accessible by choosing to take on legal aid work, offer pro bono services and to be involved in your communities."

Treasurer Hunter further noted that, "As lawyers, you have also become trustees charged with protecting the interests of your fellow citizens, the rule of law and constitutional principles including an independent legal profession."

Each year the Law Society confers honorary degrees upon select members of the public and the profession who have demonstrated extraordinary character or have performed good works of benefit to the public. Recipients serve as keynote speakers to inspire the graduating class as the new lawyers begin their careers.

Treasurer Hunter presented an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) to Professor Sheehy at the ceremony.

"Professor Sheehy is a testament to what one person can do to help advance access to justice in this country," said Treasurer Hunter. "Her extensive work to promote access to justice for women throughout the Ontario legal system has made a difference, particularly for those she has helped. Professor Sheehy is an inspiration, and as a role model, is a true reflection of the values this profession holds dear."

Professor Sheehy has been involved in many legal and activist endeavours, including Jane Doe v. the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, Bonnie Mooney v. Canada, and the Ewanchuk case, and the Self-Defence Review by Her Honour Judge Lynn Ratushny (reviewing the convictions of women who killed abusive male partners), as well the passage of Bill C-72 (intoxication as a defence to crimes of violence) and Bill C-46 (disclosure of women's counselling records in sexual assault proceedings).

Jane Doe, the litigant in Jane Doe v the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force and author of The Story of Jane Doe, praised Professor Sheehy's commitment to women's issues. "With her true heart, brilliant mind and unshakeable sense of justice, Liz Sheehy gave me voice when I was silenced, hope when I despaired, and legal strategies when there were none. I could not have won my case without her. She continues to provide access to other 'Jane Does' and to women's community groups across the country who seek equality through the legal system. She is the pride of feminist communities, legally, academically and on the front lines."

Professor Sheehy works with women's groups and institutions such as the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), the National Association of Women and the Law, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, and the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, spearheading a conference and publication exploring the implications for equality of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. She has also worked on women's issues with the African-Canadian Legal Clinic (Toronto) and the Native Women's Association of Canada on their Sisters in Spirit campaign.

She has taught law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law since 1984. She was appointed the Shirley Greenberg Professor in Women and the Legal Profession (2002-2005), and designed and taught the first course on Women and the Legal Profession in Canadian law schools.

The Ottawa ceremony is one of five the Law Society is conducting in July to call 1,000 new lawyers to the Ontario bar. Calls will also be held in London on July 18 and in Toronto on July 21 and 22.

As part of the Law Society's mandate to govern the legal profession in the public interest, the Law Society is responsible for the licensing, admission and regulation of the almost 36,000 lawyers in Ontario. For more information about the Law Society, visit us online at:

For more information, please contact:
Heather MacDonnell, 416-947-7605,, Lucy Rybka, 416-947-7619 or 416-520-6127 (cell),, or Genevieve Proulx, 416-947-5202,

Editor's note: A photo for this release will be available on the CP picture wire via PR Direct as of 3 p.m. today.

Contact Information

  • Heather MacDonnell, Communications Advisor, Law Society of Upper Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-947-7605