WOMEN GENERAL
COUNSEL CANADA

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Our History

The Women General Counsel Canada (WGCC) was founded in 2013 by a small group of women lawyers working in high level legal and business leadership roles. It was composed of members of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario (WLAO), a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing issues and causes relevant to women in the legal profession through education and awareness programs and was originally called the WLAO General Counsel Chapter. 

The founding members saw value in having an opportunity to interact with their colleagues. The group was intended to provide a welcoming forum within which women in the role of general counsel, or an equivalent role, could discuss topics of common interest professionally and personally and participate in continuing professional development.

At its inception, the members of the WGCC met quarterly in and around the Greater Toronto Area. The meetings which typically occurred during the lunch hour were hosted by the members themselves and included personal and professional development topics.  A description of two of the early events is found below.

Founding Executive

      • Alexa Abiscott  – Chair
      • Marni S. Dicker –Past Chair
      • Laila Brabander – Vice Chair – External
      • Julia Shin-Doi  – Vice Chair – Internal
      • Cheryl Foy – Secretary

Founding Members of the WLAO General Counsel Chapter

Alexa Abiscott

Sheridan College

    Laila Brabander

    Chubb

      Norie Campbell

      TD Bank


      Marni Dicker

      Infrastructure Ontario


      Cheryl Foy

      Ontario Tech University

        Sarah Huggins

        Toronto International

        Film Festival

          Mary Martin

          Metrolinx

          Michelle Moldofsky

          St. Michael's Hospital

          Mary Murphy

          University of Guelph

          Judy Naiberg

          Sony Music


          Julia Shin Doi

          Ryerson University


          Hilda Wong

          First National

          Path to Incorporation

          It was during fall of 2016 that WGCC started the process of incorporating.  The initial directors were:

              • Julia Shin Doi (President)
              • Cheryl Foy (Secretary)
              • Bindu Cudjoe (Treasurer)

          Initial Mission Statement

          WLAO General Counsel Chapter created a mission statement.  It was the following:

          WGCC is a proud chapter of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario

          WGCC is a grassroots organization established by senior women in General Counsel roles who recognize that:

          • The role of GC is a unique leadership role bridging law and business
          • The role of GC involves unique leadership challenges and opportunities
          • Women in the GC role face additional challenges and opportunities

          Our mission is to help women in general counsel and executive legal leadership roles succeed as legal and business executives through:

          • Networking with other senior women
          • Relationship-building with other business leaders
          • Leadership skills development
          • Advocacy for the in-house profession
          • Mentoring and teaching future female in-house leaders
          • Giving back to the broader community

          Early Events

          1. “Pitch Perfect” Event on June 18, 2015

          The “Pitch Perfect” event hosted by McCarthy Tétrault on June 18, 2015 saw 17 general counsel group members working with McCarthy Tétrault lawyers to support the development of the McCarthy women lawyers’ business development skills.

          The McCarthy associates and partners were asked to “pitch” three GC’s in a speed-dating-like arrangement. The GC’s provided comments and feedback on the pitches and the themes were summarized at the end.

          2.  General Counsel Chapter Meets to Build Leadership Skills

          General counsel act as both lawyers and senior leaders within their organizations. It is often challenging for lawyers to make the transition from practicing law in private practice to practicing as a legal-leaders in in-house roles.  The change in role requires the development of leadership skills that are often underdeveloped in the law firm context.

          On May 7, 2014, twenty members of WLAO’s General Counsel Chapter invited leadership expert, Karen Hanna (www.tkbhanna.com ) to talk to them about “Evolving as a Leader: Keeping the Best and Acquiring the Rest – Succeeding at the lawyer/leader transition”.

          WLAO General Counsel Chapter Award

          The WLAO working together with WGCC celebrate one of their members by awarding them the General Counsel Chapter Award at the WLAO’s Annual Award Gala which occurs in June of each year. 

          Past Award Winners include:

          • 2019 – Mary Martin, General Counsel of Metrolinx
          • 2018 - Judy Naiberg, VP, Legal & Business Affairs at Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.
          • 2017 – Doris Stamml, Chief Legal Counsel at Ernst & Young
          • 2016 – Dorothy Quann, Vice President and General Counsel at Xerox Canada
          • 2015 – Norie Campbell, Group Head and General Counsel at TD Bank Group

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