Category Archives: What we’re thinking/reading/doing (IFLS blog)

What’s interesting these days?

Osgoode: Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship (Deadline Monday April 15)

2013 Call for Applications

Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

APPLICATION DEADLINE:         Monday, April 15, 2013


This scholarship honours the life and work of Helena Orton, whose tragic death in 1997 cut short a distinguished career dedicated to using law as a tool to pursue equality for women, most latterly for women in the workplace.  Helena’s many friends, colleagues and family members have established a graduate scholarship in her name to continue her path breaking work for women through her contributions to legal scholarship and practice.



The scholarship is available to a student undertaking either full-time or part-time thesis graduate studies, at Osgoode Hall or in the York University School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, whose graduate work will explore relationships between law and social equality.  Preference will be given to candidates committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women.  Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, and demonstrated commitment to equality issues.


Value Up to $5,000.00


One scholarship may be awarded annually; the amount may vary but will be in the vicinity of $5,000.00.


To Apply


The following items must be included in the application:



a)   A cover letter addressing the applicant’s eligibility and qualifications, with reference to the Terms of Award and Interpretive Note

b)   A copy of the student’s thesis or dissertation proposal (for incoming students, taken from the application *; for in-program students, this should be the thesis/dissertation proposal submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies)

c)   An updated CV (for entering students, the CV on file for the admissions application will suffice*)

d)   Two references (taken from the admissions application*)

e)   For in-stream students, a letter from the supervisor describing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the program.

f) Submit all hardcopy applications to the Graduate Program in Law, 4044 IKB – Osgoode by deadline. Monday, April 15, 2013



The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

Helena Orton was a LL.B. student at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1980 to 1982.  While completing her undergraduate law degree, Helena was active in local and national women’s organizations working for social and economic justice.  She graduated in 1982 from Osgoode Hall and was called to the Ontario bar in 1984.

Helena’s search for a feminist law practice took her first to Ottawa to Join Aitken, Greenberg, a respected all-woman family law firm.  As a volunteer with the community-based women’s group Justice for Women, Helena was asked to act as counsel in the first equality rights case championed by LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.  Helena successfully challenged the provincial government’s discriminatory spouse-in-the-house rule which was amended following an out of court settlement with then Ontario Attorney-General Ian Scott.

The position of Litigation Director with LEAF brought Helena and her husband Fred Bever back to Toronto in 1987.  During Helena’s six-year tenure at LEAF, the real world of women’s lives was firmly established as the framework for the analysis of legal equality issues.  She was LEAF’s lead counsel in the landmark Moge case at the Supreme Court of Canada, a case which firmly entrenched the principle that spousal support awards in divorce cases must take into account the real economic burdens which divorce imposes upon women in our society.  Helena’s two daughters, Andrea and Gillian, were born during her time at LEAF.

Helena left LEAF to join the Toronto labour law firm of Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish in 1993.  As a labour lawyer, Helena continued to champion women’s rights with a focus on workplace equality issues.  Helena made unique contributions in this area of law through her special ability to weave equality rights analysis into the resolution of collective bargaining and employment problems for trade unions and employees.  As always, Helena brought to this work a relentless determination to make the law examine, analyse and address the issues women actually confront in their working and professional lives.

Helena’s life and work were marked by her commitment to finding ways to make the law understand the lived realities of women’s inequality and thereby find remedies to redress these inequalities.


The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship was established by Helen’s many colleagues, friends, and family members, to support a graduate scholarship, which will both honour and continue Helena’s path-breaking legal work for women in the area of workplace equality rights.


A copy of work done with the support of this scholarship, whether published or unpublished, will be provided to Helena’s family members.  The support of this scholarship will be acknowledged in any published version of work done in connection with the completion of the graduate degree for which it was awarded.





1)         Eligibility: “full-time or part-time thesis”


The award is limited to students pursuing a “full-time or part-time thesis” degree in either Law or Women’s Studies.


With respect to the reference to a “thesis”, the award is intended to be limited to the research-stream (i.e. thesis-based) LL.M. and M.A., as well as the Ph.D. (formally D.Jur.) in either discipline.


“Part-time” refers to the status a student may have within York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies after the mandatory period of three full-time terms for a Masters and six full-time terms for a Doctorate.


2)            Substantive eligibility threshold and primary evaluation criterion: “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality”


This thematic criterion is meant to play two roles: (i) a substantive eligibility threshold and (ii) an ordinal role in terms of scoring/evaluation weight.  With respect to (i), the applicant’s proposed or continuing thesis/dissertation topic must clearly qualify as “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality” before the application can be considered.  With respect to (ii), this theme is the primary, or overarching, criterion in terms of substantive fit between the award and the applicant’s thesis/dissertation work.


Whereas (i) operates in an either/or way, (ii) is a question of degree.  The greater the extent to which the thesis/dissertation satisfies this thematic criterion, the greater is the scoring/evaluation weight to be assigned to the applicant.


In terms of the meaning of the thematic criterion, (a) “law” includes not only formal law and legal institutions but also legal policy and social policy connections to legal issues; (b) “social equality” is to be interpreted broadly; and (c) applicants are asked to address, in their application, how they see their thesis/dissertation addressing “relationships” between law and social equality.


3)            Secondary evaluation criterion: “preference…committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women”


As to the ordinality of this criterion, “[p]reference will be given” means that additional weight will be given to applications fulfilling this subject-matter criterion, and candidates are invited to address this criterion if they feel their thesis/dissertation meets this preference.  It is not, however, a threshold requirement for eligibility.


In terms of the meaning of this criterion, “workplace: and, within that focus, “work” is to be interpreted broadly.


4)            Merit criteria: “academic achievement” and “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”


These two merit criteria are to be assessed and given appropriate weight by selection committee members.


As to “academic achievement”, this includes an assessment of the quality of the application itself in the context of the applicant’s stage of academic work.  Also, whereas entering students need only rely on the application on file for their references, in-stream students must, in addition, arrange for their supervisor to provide a letter assessing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the year or years since their admission to the relevant York graduate program.


As to “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”, this is different from the subject-matter criterion of “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality.”  Evidence can include:



  •             Relevant work experience
  •             Involvements in voluntary activity
  •             Writing and research
  •             Participation in social equality movements or related political activity
    • In addressing this criterion, applicants are invited to provide any relevant information on how their involvements in any of the above have influenced their choice of thesis/dissertation work and/or impeded their academic progress.



5)         “Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student”


The Orton Award is not simply an entrance award: in-program students are eligible.  The question arises, however, of what the conditions of renewal are for an in-program student who has already received the award.


“Renewable” means “awarded again.”  The fact of being the current holder of the Orton does not give the holder either a right to automatic renewal or any right to a priority consideration for a second award automatic renewal.  Current award-holders must apply again and be considered on equal terms in comparison with the other applicants.


“Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student” means that a student may not be again awarded the Orton for a second or subsequent year of the LL.M. or M.A..


The situation may arise in which an applicant has received the award for the LL.M. or M.A. and then applies again with respect to the PhD.  “[F]or a second year” must be interpreted in the spirit of the award. No one may receive the award more than twice.  Thus, a student who receives the award for the LL.M or M.A. is eligible to receive the award for a second time for a Ph.D. year, but may not receive it for a third time.


An applicant who currently holds or who has held the award previously does not have to meet a higher standard than other applicants.  As with all in-stream applicants, the academic achievement of the current or past holder of the award includes a contextualized assessment of the progress achieved since the first award.






Women, Race & Class in the Academy, two events

From long ago Osgoode graduate student Dr. Lolita Buckner Inniss, @auntiefeminist on twitter and  blogs here (Ain’t I a Feminist Legal Scholar Too? A blog that explores the relationship between blackness, feminism and feminist legal scholarship).  My colleague Dayna Scott and I will have a chance to meet Prof. Onwuachi-Willig on March 8 at this event, a conference based around the collection Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia put on  by the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice. But the teach in also looks interesting, and Prof. Buckner Inniss is suggesting thisChronicle of Higher Ed adaptation of Prof. Onwuachi Willig’s piece in the collection.
On March 11, 2013 from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. in the Fillius Events Barn the Women’s Studies Department of Hamilton College will hostProfessor Angela Onwuachi-Willig of the University of Iowa College of Law. Professor Onwuachi-Willig will lead a faculty/staff teach-in on how gender and race operate in the context of women faculty of color in the academy. One of the launching points of her discussion will be her chapter titled “Silence of the Lambs” from the book Presumed IncompetentWe will continue our discussion informally over a buffet dinner that immediately follows the event. **We would be delighted to have you join us!  Hamilton College is especially convenient to those of you in the central/upstate New York region.**
Please click here to indicate whether you will come. Whether or not you can attend, please help us by answering some survey questions that are also located at the link.
Presumed Incompetent (Utah State University Press, 2012) is a groundbreaking account of the intersecting roles of gender, race and class in the working lives of women faculty of color.  The book features first person narratives and qualitative empirical studies that examine some of the underlying structural factors that perpetuate bias and exclusion for women of color in the academy.The book also offers concrete recommendations for how institutions can address some of these problems.

Professor Onwuachi-Willig is the Charles and Marion Kierscht Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. She is one of the most-accomplished and best-known scholars in the legal academy. Professor Onwuachi-Willig is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.  She was elected to the American Law Institute, has been a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and was a recent finalist for Iowa Supreme Court Justice.  Professor Onwuachi-Willig graduated from Grinnell College, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in American Studies, and received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a Clarence Darrow Scholar, a Note Editor on the Michigan Law Review and an Associate Editor of the founding issue of the Michigan Journal of Race and Law.
Click here to read an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education adapted from Professor Onwuachi-Willig‘s chapter. 


NIP: Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law & the British Novel. Martha C. Nussbaum & Alison L. LaCroix eds

My colleague Hengemeh Saberi (more on her later) suggested this 2013 OUP offering:  Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law and the British Novel.  Martha C. Nussbaum and Alison L. LaCroix eds.  Posner on Austen? And Nicola Lacey!

This interdisciplinary volume of contributed essays focuses on issues of gender in the British novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly Hardy and Trollope. Approaching the topic from a variety of backgrounds, the contributors reinvigorate the law-and-literature movement by displaying a range of ways in which literature and law can illuminate one another and in which the conversation between them can illuminate deeper human issues with which both disciplines are concerned. Their chapters shed light on a range of gender-related issues, from inheritance to money-lending to illegitimacy, but also make an important methodological contribution by displaying (and discussing) a range of methodological perspectives that exemplify the breadth and range of this discipline, which links history, gender studies, philosophy, literary studies, and law.

Table of Contents


Preface , Diane P. Wood

Introduction , Alison L. LaCroix and Martha C. Nussbaum

Part One | Marriage and Sex
1. The Moral and Legal Consequences of Wife Selling in The Mayor of Casterbridge , Julie C. Suk
2. Jude the Obscure: The Irrelevance of Marriage Law , Amanda Claybaugh
3. The History of Obscenity, the British Novel, and the First Amendment , Geoffrey R. Stone
4. Jane Austen: Comedy and Social Structure , Richard A. Posner

Part Two | Law, Social Norms, and Women’s Agency

5. Pious Perjury in Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian , Julia Simon-Kerr

6. Rape, Seduction, Purity, and Shame in Tess of the d’Urbervilles , Marcia Baron

7. The Stain of Illegitimacy: Gender, Law, and Trollopian Subversion , Martha C. Nussbaum

8. Could He Forgive Her? Gender, Agency, and Women’s Criminality in the Novels of Anthony Trollope , Nicola Lacey

Part Three | Property, Commerce, Travel

9. Law, Commerce, and Gender in Trollope’s Framley Parsonage , Douglas G. Baird

10. Primogeniture, Legal Change, and Trollope , Saul Levmore

11. Defoe’s Formal Laws , Bernadette Meyler

Part Four | Readers and Interpretation

12. The Lawyer’s Library in the Early American Republic , Alison L. LaCroix

13. Proposals and Performative Utterance in the Nineteenth-Century Novel: The Professional Man’s Plight , Robert A. Ferguson

14. A Comeuppance Theory of Narrative and the Emotions , Blakey Verme


Nussbaum and LaCroix spoke to the Uchicago faculty magazine about the collection, here.

You can learn a lot about developments in the law relating to women, both civil and criminal,” Nussbaum said. “But I think more deeply you can understand the human predicaments that made people turn to law for recognition and assistance.”

These novels were written at a time when authors were thinking about legal regimes involving women, said LaCroix, from property ownership to the practice of wife-selling.

“It’s a good period to look at when we knew law was changing, and literature was responsive to that,” she said. And she echoed Nussbaum’s sentiment that literature makes the reader, including lawyers, more human. “It’s a source of evidence for lawyers about how people feel and act in relation to the law.”

Vol 24.2 of the Canadian Journal of Women & the Law is out…

it isn’t open source, unfortunately, so perhaps only those of you with access to a Uni library will be able to get this – but there is a lot to read.  [access through project muse]Canadian Journal of Women and the Law-Volume 24, Number 2, 2012.  Some names you may know and others you may not.  We also tried a little experimental book review approach here on the Mrs. Dredd Scott book, see what you think (you may already have read the “review” conversation here on the blog).  Happy Reading!

front cover of Canadian Journal of Women and the Law vol 24(1)

Table of Contents (I pasted in two of the abstracts, just FYI, but you should be able to access them all through the link above, even if you don’t have access to full text).


Constance Backhouse Sexual Harassment: A Feminist Phrase That Transformed the Workplace

Rachel K. Bailie Minority of One: Violet King’s Entry to the Legal Profession

Violet King was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1929, the eldest daughter of John King who moved from Oklahoma with his family in 1911 as part of a group of Black immigrants to Canada. Public and government intolerance in Canada limited the total number of Black immigrants to the Canadian prairies in 1911 and 1912 to fewer than 2,000. When Violet enrolled at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1948, she was the only Black woman student. Violet took an active leadership role in school activities and student government.

After her graduation in 1953, Violet returned to Calgary to complete her articles of clerkship as a student-at-law with a prominent Calgary lawyer. In 1954, Violet was admitted to the Alberta Bar as the first Black lawyer in Alberta and the first Black woman lawyer in Canada. Violet moved from Calgary to Ottawa, Ontario, to work for the Citizenship Department with the federal government. She later moved to the United States to work with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). In 1976, she was appointed executive director of the National Council of YMCA’s Organizational Development Group—the first woman named to a senior management position with the American national YMCA organization.

Karen Busby Every Breath You Take: Erotic Asphyxiation, Vengeful Wives, and Other Enduring Myths in Spousal Sexual Assault Prosecutions

Lise Gotell Governing Heterosexuality through Specific Consent: Interrogating the Governmental Effects of R. v J.A.

Erika Rackley Why Feminist Legal Scholars Should Write Judgments: Reflections on the Feminist Judgments Project in England and Wales

The Feminist Judgments Project was a collaboration in which a group of feminist legal scholars wrote alternative feminist judgments in significant legal cases in England and Wales. Rather than simply producing academic critiques of existing judgments, the participants, following in the footsteps of the Women’s Court of Canada, engaged in a practical, “real world” exercise of judgment writing. By putting feminist theory into judgment form, the Feminist Judgments Project sought to harness the power and distinctiveness of judgment writing in order to demonstrate in a sustained and disciplined way how the cases could have been decided and how the judgments could be written differently. To date, academic commentary has primarily focused on the feminist substance of the alternative judgments or, more broadly, on what makes judgments feminist, rather than on the significance of feminist scholars writing judgments. Drawing on examples from the Feminist Judgments Project, this article argues that, in addition to seeing how feminist theoretical insights can (and should) play out “in practice,” the Feminist Judgments Project and Women’s Court also raise questions about the nature and possibilities of judgment writing for feminist legal scholarship. In considering the value of judgment writing as a form of feminist critical scholarship, the article takes up the presentation of the Feminist Judgments Project as a form of “academic activism” to argue that there are strong academic, educational, and political reasons why feminist legal scholars should write judgments.


Ceri Warnock, Nicola Wheen Sex Work in New Zealand: The Re-Importation of Moral Majoritarianism in Regulating a Decriminalized Industry


“The Normal Ones Take Time”: Civil Commitment and Sexual Assault in R. v Alsadi Isabel Grant

Book Reviews / Chroniques bibliographiques

Mrs. Dredd Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier (review) Lolita Buckner-Inniss, Sonia Lawrence, Emily Grabham, Maneesha Deckha, Kim Brooks

Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance? (review) Doris Buss

Transforming Law’s Family: The Legal Recognition of Planned Lesbian Motherhood (review) Robert Leckey

Gender, Sexualities and Law (review) Gayle MacDonald

Women and Property in Urban India (review) Vrinda Narain

Murder, Medicine and Motherhood (review) Elizabeth Sheehy, Christine Boyle



A few New Things


This seems neat – UK organization “Just Fair” (one of the people behind it is Nottingham Professor Aoife Nolan, aka @commentator01 on twitter) is putting “Austerity on Trial” tonight.  The “charge” is breaching international human rights standards. See here for more information. There are briefs for both sides – an interesting way of gathering attention and bringing people together.  The page has links to scholarship and backgrounders aimed at non scholars including children & young people.

Those who were at or followed last year’s LSA in Hawai’i will remember that there were linked panels on Austerity organized by some stellar UK feminists (see this post from IFLS, Care & Autonomy in the Age of Austerity with lots of links).


2University of Manitoba Law Prof Deb Parkes is putting on a really interesting international conference at Robson Hall (U Man Law) this month, Ending the Isolation: An International Conference on Human Rights and Solitary Confinement see here.  Here is Prof Parkes in Manitoba’s research magazine talking about her work.


3There is a new volume available of the William and Mary Journal of Women & the Law: 2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice on Hein online (sorry,not open access).  Here are a few of the articles:

Introduction: Making the Link between Transitional Justice and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Wallstrom, Margot [former UN special rep on violence in conflict]
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 1 (2012) Pp: 1-6

Gender and the Charles Taylor Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Oosterveld, Valerie
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 7 (2012) Pp: 7-34

2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice
Dealing with the Past in a Post-Conflict Society: Does the Participation of Women Matter – Insights from Northern Ireland
O’Rourke, Catherine
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 35 (2012) Pp: 35-68

2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice
Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual and Reproductive Violence: A Decalogue
Rubio-Marin, Ruth
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 69 (2012) Pp: 69-104