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press release

VANCOUVER – Madam Justice Freda Steel of the Manitoba Court of Appeal has been named winner of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) 2012 Cecilia I. Johnstone Award in recognition of her outstanding work for the advancement of women in the legal profession.

Described as “an excellent role model for women lawyers and women considering a legal career,” Madam Justice Steel’s work with and for women has been remarkable and longstanding.

“There is no doubt that she has influenced other women to pursue legal careers, supported other women in career advancement, and opened doors for women lawyers in job settings that were historically closed to them,” says Jennifer Goldenberg, co-chair of the Women Lawyers Forum in Manitoba, and one of Madam Justice Steel’s nominators for the award.

A strong advocate on issues relevant to women in law – including gender equality – Madam Justice Steel’s influence extends to the judiciary where she has also contributed to the advancement of women.

Appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1995 and to the Manitoba Court of Appeal in 2000, Madam Justice Steel is very actively involved in legal education and social action.  Since her appointment, she has spoken to law students on issues of gender equality in the legal profession, to police officers on the issue of domestic violence, and has presented at a workshop on women and the law in the Slovak Republic.

She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, which unites women judges from diverse legal-judicial systems who share a commitment to equal justice and rule of law.

In 2009-2010, Madam Justice Steel was the judicial co-chair of the Women Lawyers Forum (WLF) of the Manitoba Bar Association.  “Her efforts have greatly enhanced the WLF’s activities, and provided meaningful support to women lawyers in Manitoba,” adds Jennifer Goldenberg.

Committed to life-long learning, Madam Justice Steel received her LLB from the University of Manitoba Law School in 1975 and her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1978.  She taught law at the University of Ottawa and University of Manitoba between 1978 and 1995.

“Madam Justice Steel has broken the glass ceiling and inspires women to consider their options and opportunities in the legal profession,” says Jennifer Goldenberg.

The Cecilia I. Johnstone Award was established in 2007 to recognize women who have achieved professional excellence in their field and influenced other women to pursue legal careers, supported other women in career advancement, or opened doors for women lawyers. It is named to honour Cecilia Johnstone, an outstanding lawyer, judge, and CBA President who passed away in 2006.

The Award will be presented at the Women Lawyers Forum Reception, taking place on Monday, August 13 at 5:00 p.m. in the Cheakamus Room of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver. The reception is held in conjunction with the CBA 2012 Canadian Legal Conference and Marketplace in Vancouver from August 11-14

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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