Blakes Is Committed to Supporting the Advancement of Women in Business and Law

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.

Annual Women’s Event

In 2018, we celebrated our 11th Annual Women’s event in Toronto with guest speaker Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser. Over the past 11 years, we have introduced incredible speakers to our clients who have shared their unique perspectives, from filmmaker Mira Nair to authors Claire Shipman and Brigid Schulte; Wall Street banker, speaker and gospel singer Carla Harris; and the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean.

Stepping Up: Preparing to Be a GC

In 2014, we 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.

Stepping Beyond: Future Opportunities

In 2018, we introduced Stepping Beyond: Future Opportunities, a series of programs geared towards women GCs who want to position themselves for opportunities to expand or step beyond their role as general counsel.

Women GCs on Boards

Inspired by the belief that diversity in all forms enriched the conversation and decision-making at the board table, we launched Women GCs on Boards in 2017 in support of women GCs who we believed are ideal candidates for board positions. The workshops are designed to help women GCs leverage their business and strategic skills by developing their value proposition and board profile to support their board aspirations. In support of this program, Blakes conducts cutting-edge research to create an annual benchmarking study examining the legal professional backgrounds of board members. The insights gained from this study helps us to tailor our programming, foster discussions and provide networking opportunities to support the advancement of women GCs onto boards.

The 30% Club

The 30% Club is a global organization founded by 28 CEOs of leading companies and business organizations. Officials from many of Canada’s largest banks and accounting firms are among the founding members, whose goal is to boost the proportion of women on boards of directors to 30 per cent. In Canada, they aspire to reach that target by 2020. Blakes Chair Brock Gibson sits on the Advisory Board committee. Alison Jeffrey, Strategic Advisor, and Mary Jackson, Chief Officer, Professional Resources, support the Steering Committee.

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.


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.

To learn more about the pro bono work we do for various women’s initiatives, please visit our Pro Bono page.​​​