Blakes has long been committed to assisting women lawyers achieve business success. This was formalized in 2007 when Blakes launched the Women@Blakes network. The network focuses on business development and leadership opportunities for women lawyers and clients, the recruitment, professional development and retention of women, and strengthening the relationships between women in the Firm across different practice areas, industry teams and offices.

Initiatives of the Women@Blakes network cover:

  • Professional Development
    • Blakes Business Class Leadership Series for Women, a suite of seminars focused on the enhancement of leadership, coaching, performance and personal development skills for women
    • Internal and external speakers of particular interest to our women lawyers  to provide training and internal networking opportunities
  • Personal Development
    • Sponsorship of leadership and business development training for women lawyers
    • Blakes Business Class leadership programs designed for our women clients focused on coaching, performance and personal development skills
  • Networking
    • ​Events to provide business development opportunities for our women lawyers and networking opportunities for our clients
    • Women@Blakes newsletters and other communication tools to highlight events and personal successes, share information and enhance communication across the Firm
  • Retention and Mentoring
    • Mentoring and assisting women lawyers with reintegration into practice following maternity leave
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • ​Participation in pro bono projects that support women and girls in our communities and abroad
  • ​​Partnering with Clients
    • The Women@Blakes network looks for opportunities to partner with clients on professional development, leadership training and networking initiatives

Blakes is a founding sponsor of a leadership program for female lawyers in years five to eight, started in 2008 by the Rotman School of Management and the University of Toronto Law School. Blakes is also a founding sponsor of the Judy Project, a leadership forum for executive women organized by the Rotman School of Management, which has been attended by one of our women partners each year since it started more than 10 years ago.

We are a member of Catalyst, a leading not-for-profit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women in business. Their vision is to create more inclusive workplaces where employees representing every dimension of diversity can thrive. We support numerous pro bono projects and initiatives through our Women@Blakes network including:

  • 160 Girls – Blakes provides research and strategic litigation support to the 160 Girls project, a groundbreaking initiative promoted by the not-for-profit organization the Equality Effect. 160 Girls was a test case that sought to compel the enforcement of existing Kenyan laws prohibiting sexual assault and to bring light to the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls in Kenya and increase understanding of how systemic discrimination perpetuates such assaults. In May 2013, 160 Girls achieved a landmark victory, and Kenyan law enforcement officials were ordered to investigate and prosecute the crimes. Blakes is now assisting the equality effect in its efforts to enforce the order in Kenya and in the development of projects to implement similar test cases in Ghana and Malawi.
  • Minerva Foundation for BC Women – The Minerva Foundation is a registered charitable organization that delivers a range of unique programs to help women develop their leadership capacity and find meaningful work. From education awards for women in need to mentoring and coaching, job search support and culturally relevant programming developed and delivered in partnership with aboriginal women, the Minerva Foundation elevates the visibility, influence and contribution of women to change the face of leadership in B.C. One of our partners is a board member, previous director, vice-chair and sits on numerous committees for ongoing programs.
  • Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland – As a leading child and youth mentoring charity, Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower girls to reach their potential. A Blakes partner is a director and co-chair of the board. We also have a team of Blakes lawyers who provide pro bono advice in the area of employment, governance and financial services.
  • Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) – WAVAW works to end all forms of violence against women and to challenge and change thinking, actions and systems that contribute to violence against women. Blakes is a supporter of the organization and provides corporate governance and employment advice.
  • Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) – CBCF is supported in a number of ways, including through a partner at Blakes who has been a member of the board of directors with CBCF since 2002 and through the Firm's involvement in their fundraising work across the country, including the Run for the Cure and Daffodil Month.
  • Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) – CCASA is an abuse and assault crisis and education service provider that strives to enhance the health and well-being of the community through responsible and effective programs in sexual abuse education, research and advocacy, crisis intervention and counselling. Blakes supports the CCASA through ongoing legal advice.

Awards and Recognition for Women Lawyers

In the 2011 Lexpert Zenith Awards: Celebrating Corporate and Law Firm Social Responsibility, Blakes was honoured with nine awards, the most awards won by any Canadian law firm. The Women@Blakes network won in the “Action or Plan that Advances Retention of Women in Law” category.

Legal Media Group’s Guide to the Leading Women in Business Law: we have 12 Blakes partners ranked in this directory. ​​​​​​​​