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.

Below are some of the initiatives and programs we have developed or support as well as organizations we assist on a pro bono basis.

Women@Blakes Initiatives

Professional Development

  • Blakes Business Class programs designed for women clients focused on leadership, coaching, performance and personal development skills
  • Internal and external speakers of particular interest to our women lawyers to provide training and internal networking opportunities
  • Promoting career opportunities for women in business and law
  • Sponsorship of leadership and business development training for women lawyers

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

Social Responsibility

  • Participation in pro bono projects that support women and girls in our communities and abroad

Partnering with Clients

  • Partnering with clients on professional development, leadership training and networking initiatives 

Supporting Women in Business and Law

Rotman School of Management Programs

Blakes is a founding sponsor of three leadership programs started by the Rotman: The Judy Project, which Blakes continues to participate in, supports executive and senior-level women in leadership roles within Canadian businesses and organizations; a two-day intensive program (run by Blakes, Rotman and the University of Toronto) that helps women lawyers in years five to seven build professional confidence and acquire relevant business skills; and the Business Leadership for Women Lawyers program, which assists women lawyers with career advancement and organizational performance.

Catalyst

Blakes is 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.

Reintegration of Women Lawyers into the Workplace

Blakes recently partnered with CIBC to establish the Reintegration of Women Lawyers into the Workplace program to assist women lawyers returning to the practice of law, after an absence of two or more years, with obtaining paid legal experience for a six-month period. The program is designed to give these women recent job experience at a leading Canadian law firm and within a large, sophisticated in-house legal department at CIBC.

Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector

Blake is one of 20 organizations, and the only Canadian law firm, participating in a three-year, government-funded project entitled Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector. Led by Global Compact Network Canada, the program will promote gender equality by engaging the Canadian private sector as responsible accelerators and establish a blueprint easily applied by any Canadian company taking action to achieve better gender balance.

Stepping Up and Stepping Beyond

In 2014, Blakes established a leadership development program called Stepping Up: Preparing to Be a GC. The program is dedicated to increasing the number of women general counsel in Canadian public and private companies, not-for-profit institutions, government entities and Canadian subsidiaries of multinationals. In partnership with Women General Counsel Canada, which includes Stepping Up and Women GCs on Boards, we introduced Stepping Beyond: Future Opportunities in 2018, geared towards women GCs who are preparing for opportunities beyond their GC role.

Women on Boards Exchange Forum

Blakes launched a new Women on Boards Exchange Forum in 2017, which is presented in partnership with Women General Counsel Canada and Legal Leaders for Diversity. This program continues to explore the opportunities presented to women general counsel who seek to secure board positons.

Providing Pro Bono Assistance

160 Girls

An initiative promoted by the equality effect, 160 Girls seeks to compel the enforcement of existing laws in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi that prohibit sexual assault and bring light to the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls. The project also aims to increase understanding of how systemic discrimination perpetuates such assaults. Blakes was instrumental in assisting 160 Girls achieve a landmark victory in May 2013 where Kenyan law enforcement officials were ordered to investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual violence. In 2017, 160 Girls was recognized by the United Nations for advancing women's rights.

Minerva Foundation for BC Women

Minerva BC delivers a range of 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, Minerva BC 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.