The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Beverley Spencer

Message from the editor

Grow resilience to meet life’s challenges

By Beverley Spencer September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

 

If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the subject of our cover story.

Marie Laure Leclercq was the first lawyer to transition in a major Montreal law firm. Today, it’s still not easy for transgender individuals to work, live and love even though society is a lot more open. But it took a special kind of courage to transition at a time when the world was much more hostile to people who challenged societal norms. Her journey, as you will read, was not an easy one. However, deep inner strength and the support of friends and colleagues helped her achieve a satisfying new life.

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Cover story

Her way: Profile of a transgender lawyer

By Beverley Spencer September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

Her way: Profile of a transgender lawyer

 

She wears a conservative navy blue suit and a pink-striped blouse. Her brown hair is lightly streaked and clipped up with a comb and her only jewellery is a simple silver necklace and a plain band on her right hand. Beige eyeshadow highlights her expressive brown eyes and she wears pale pink lipstick. Slim with delicate features, she has a pretty face.

It’s usually inappropriate to focus on the appearance of interview subjects unless they’re Hollywood actors or members of the Royal Family. But Marie Laure Leclercq used to pack her female identity into a suitcase that she carried in the trunk of her car so she could change out of her “suit of armour” when the pain of living a lie as a man named Philippe became overwhelming. Her ability today to live openly and proudly as a trans woman is a personal and professional victory. Her struggle to get to that point is the defining narrative of her life.

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CBA Community: Young Lawyers International Program

Finding a calling far from home

By Beverley Spencer July 6, 2017 6 July 2017

Finding a calling far from home


Persia Sayyari’s path to the BC Coroners’ Service took her via Constitution Hill, a former prison in Johannesburg where men and women who fought apartheid were once incarcerated.

Home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court and the offices of the South African History Archive (SAHA), it’s where she worked as an intern with the Young Lawyers International Program in 2012-13. Her experience there shaped her decision to pursue a career with an investigative role – as a coroner who conducts preliminary investigations of unnatural, unexpected or unexplained deaths.

It’s a long way from SAHA, an independent human rights archive that preserves histories about struggles for social justice and uses access to information laws to support present-day activism.  But the work was an eye-opener for someone who, as an articling student, had been frustrated with how the human elements of a case can be ignored during litigation.

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Message from the editor

Me inc.: Doing it all in the new economy

By Beverley Spencer June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

 

Do you ever wonder why everyone is so stressed? Blame the new economy.

Consider this: We’re not just juggling our responsibilities at home and work anymore; dozens of little micro-jobs have been added to our plates. We’re also bank tellers, travel agents, insurance claims officers, investment specialists, retirement planners, health-care co-ordinators, parking lot attendants and customer service agents. We scan and bag our own groceries and pump gas. Sure, it can be convenient, but no wonder people get grouchy.

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Message from the editor

150 years of progress: Legal milestones show changing society

By Beverley Spencer March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

I grew up in the suburbs of Montreal’s West Island in the 1970s. I attended a solidly middle-class high school where the students were predominantly white Protestants and the closest we came to poverty was collecting canned food for the needy.

But outside our insular world, things were starting to change for those who didn’t share our privilege. In the 1970s, the Canadian Human Rights Act was passed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, age and gender and the federal government started funding legal aid so the poor could have equal access to legal representation. The steady drumbeat of progress continued through the next four decades as some historic injustices were redressed and the law reflected social change.

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