Tag Archives: women

NIP: Muslim Women and Shari'ah Councils: Transcending the Boundaries of Community and Law, Samia Bano

New in Print from Palgrave McMillan

Muslim Women and Shari’ah Councils: Transcending the Boundaries of Community and Law Samia Bano

H/T Brenna Bhandar.

From the publisher’s flyer:

About the Author
SAMIA BANO lectures in Family law, Gender and Law and Research Methods in Law at the University of Reading Law school, UK, where she was recently been appointed Deputy Director of Research. Samia is recognized as an international scholar in the field of Muslim family law, multiculturalism and gender discrimination. Before joining the law school at Reading Samia worked as a researcher on a number of projects in the area of legal policy and practice and gender equality. November 2012 Hardback £60.00 £30.00* 9780230221482
Available as ebook  Click here for Flyer offering 50% off.
Drawing upon original empirical data and critiquing existing research material this book challenges the language of community rights and claims for legal autonomy in matters of family law. It draws upon critiques of power, dialogue and positionality to explore how multiples spaces in law and community both empower and restrict women at different times and in different contexts. It also opens up the conceptual space in which we can see in evidence the multiple legal and social realities in operation, within the larger context of state law, liberal multiculturalism and the human rights discourse. In this way the book provides an important contribution to current debate on the use of privatized and ADR mechanisms in family law matters while analyzing the dynamics of relationality and cultural diversity in new forms of mediation practices. In a wider context it explores the conceptual challenges that the rise of a faith-based dispute resolution process poses to secular/liberal notions of law, human rights and gender equality.

Table of Contents:
Multiculturalism and Secularism in the British Context
South Asian Muslims and State Law Relations
Background to the Study
Shari’ah Councils in Britain
Shari’ah Councils and the Practice of Law-making
Personal Experiences of Marriage
Muslim Women, Divorce and Shari’ah Councils
Shari’ah Councils and Civil law
Conclusion: Justice in the ‘Shadow of Law’?

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada: Lessons from the MWCI


I will be very sorry to miss this one. My bad luck/bad schedule.

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada (link to eventbrite to RSVP, please,or Facebook page for event here)

Organized via Distinguished Speaker Series of Osgoode Hall Law School, Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association, Osgoode Women’s Caucus & Just Law

Amidst growing calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School will be hosting a discussion on what form such an inquiry should take with David Eby and Robyn Gervais on Monday, December 3. Mr. Eby and Ms. Gervais will offer insight based on their experiences with the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI).

The MWCI was convened by the B.C. government in 2010 to investigate police conduct in response to the disappearance of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The majority of these women were Aboriginal and later found to be the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. The inquiry’s final report is due to be released on November 30, 2012.

Mr. Eby is the Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, an organization that was initially granted standing to participate in the inquiry but withdrew after the state failed to provide legal funding for Aboriginal, women and other community groups to participate.  Ms. Gervais was the Independent Counsel for Aboriginal Interests during the Inquiry, before resigning due to the indifference and bias she perceived from the commission.

Mr. Eby and Ms. Gervais will discuss the controversy surrounding the MWCI and comment on lessons that may be used to craft a meaningful process to address the systemic discrimination and violence that Aboriginal women continue to face.

'Omak’s Minimum Pay Law Joan D’Arc': Telling the Local Story of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937) by Helen Knowles

‘Omak’s Minimum Pay Law Joan D’Arc’: Telling the Local Story of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937)

by Helen Knowles (Whitman)

New at SSRN.

Scholars agree about the socio-political significance of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937), in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Washington State minimum wage law for women. However, they tend to focus on the decision’s relationship to FDR’s Court-packing plan. Little attention has been paid to the stories of the parties; beyond identifying her as the famous-for-five-minutes “Wenatchee chambermaid,” scholars have provided us with minimal information about the plaintiff Elsie Parrish, and even less is known about the lawyers and lower court judges who participated in this landmark case.

Using analysis of local newspaper coverage, the original court documents, and drawing upon information provided by descendants of Elsie Parrish, her lawyer C.B. Conner, and Fred Crollard, the attorney for the West Coast Hotel Company, in this article I bring to light many previously untold details of the local story of Parrish. This material highlights the importance of telling the stories of Supreme Court cases, because it demonstrates that for the residents of Washington State it was the local story, rather than the national narrative, of Parrish that captured their attention.

Back to Socratic Cold Calling? Yale Law Women monitor & Report on Gendered Participation at YLS

This study was a follow up of one conducted in 2002.
The history and key findings are set out here.

Classroom Dynamics

  • Men continue to participate more in class than women—and the disparity between male and female participation rates have barely improved over the past ten years.
  • Faculty and students observe that women seem more risk-adverse in their participation and are more likely to undermine or discount their own comments in class.

Beyond the Classroom

  • Men are more active in engaging faculty outside of class and are more comfortable doing so.
  • Men are more likely to write with faculty, and earlier—and they learn about faculty opportunities through more informal channels than women.
  • Faculty observed greater hesitance among women in asking professors to advocate for them.
Hm, sound familiar to anyone?
For large classes, the study findings are clear – cold-calling produces the best gender balance.  I agree, although I have a variety of techniques I use to get my cold calling to a place where I can bear to do it.
Re use of M/F:
We added a third “unclear” gender category to recognize genderqueer and gender non-conforming students who do not either identify or express themselves as men or women. To be sure, this was necessarily
an imperfect approach, as it wholly refl ected the perspective of the classroom monitor (and whether it was “unclear” to them how a student gender-identified).   (19)
The study was done by and at Yale, so the world cares.  Super fun to go to the blogs that are covering it and read the comments! Perhaps not.
The study raises really interesting questions about the source of the problem and the appropriate solutions.  It provides some compelling empirical data that I feel sure would be echoed at other law schools.  I wonder if the number of women on the Faculty makes a difference, though.
For 2011-2012, 22 out of 104 Yale Law School professors were women (21.2%). When visiting, clinical, adjunct, and emeritus professors are excluded, there are 17 women professors out of 75. Of the 17 Visiting Professors, 4 were women (23.5%). Only one of 12 clinical professors is a woman (8.3%). (2)
In light of the recent discussion about grading practices and stress levels (prompted by U of T’s proposed grading scheme adjustment), which inevitably led to mention of Yale’s Honours/Pass/Fail system, I think the Report also highlights the way that competition, and stress, find their way into the law school anyway.
Without formal grades, large classes, or institutionalized benchmarks, faculty-student relationships play a crucial role in a student’s education and future opportunities. Furthermore, many students come to YLS with an interest in legal academia and/or judicial clerkships. Success in these areas requires faculty advocacy on the student’s behalf. (34)
The graph below indicates women are less comfortable approaching their professors in a variety of settings:

Here’s one other result that I find interesting:
Among professors interviewed, women faculty wrote signifi cantly more letters of recommendation. The 14 women interviewed reported writing 99 letters, an average of 7.1 letters per person, while the 40 men interviewed reported writing 158 letters, an average of 4.0 letters per person. (13)
The study mirrors the kinds of things that organizations like Catalyst are suggesting – that is, that environments may promote gendered pathways to success, that finding sponsors may be more difficult for women for a variety of reasons including the lack of women in the workplace, but also that women may need to recognize the ways that they are undercutting their own success by, well, not speaking up.
Of course, there are other questions we could ask, especially about classroom participation. What does it really serve, pedagogically? What are the students who are speaking gaining? What is the rest of the class gaining?  I wonder if we could design a study which would look at the reach of participation.  Is it that there are very frequent participators who are men?  In my classes, it seems that although the participation is overwhelmingly male, there are a substantial number of men who never participate.
Next steps?
  • Raise this study with your colleagues, friends and Profs.  Encourage them to read it, or provide them with the recommendations.
  • Replicate the Yale study?

Incidentally, a York colleague who went to Osgoode a number of years ago, Anne Bunting, mentioned to me that a study like this was done at Osgoode many years ago.  Anyone have a copy? Let me know.


H/T Kim Brooks.

"Diversity" in legal practice & A Call to Action Canada

A Call to Action Canada is having a symposium in Toronto on the afternoon of Thursday September 15th, 2011.  Information here.  The program includes the following discussions:

  • Diversity and First Nations:  A discussion of the challenges facing Aboriginal lawyers amid the growing importance and impact of First Nations business and legal issues.
  • Towards Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion: A discussion on hard-wiring sustainable diversity and inclusiveness into an organization’s mission, goals and operational strategies and presentation of the Toolkit developed by the Diversity and Inclusion Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

On Friday August 5th, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel at the American Bar Associations Toronto annual meeting, entitled Facilitating Diversity: Similar Countries, Different Experiences – How Historical Context Informs How We Address Diversity Today.  The panel was co sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Fraser Milner Casgrain, the hosts. It was a real pleasure to meet the other speakers, all with tremendous experience and expertise in the area – and to learn about some really interesting initiatives in terms of how large corporate firm lawyers and in house counsel can advocate for and demand more diversity in their corner of the profession. In particular, I was pleased to meet Joy Casey, a Canadian litigator and in-house counsel for Aurora Holdings.  She is the founder of A Call to Action Canada.

I only recently learned about A Call to Action (I posted something brief in May, click here).  Luckily for me, Joseph West, Associate General Counsel at Wal-Mart presented a concise overview of the (american) genesis of this innovative effort to improve diversity.  Essentially, A Call to Action invites companies to sign on to a set of commitments about improving diversity.  These commitments include the following:

we pledge that we will make decisions regarding which law firms represent our companies based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms.

Joe West also talked about the positive impact on the bottom line of “improving diversity performance” including making better use of underutilized people at the firm, eliminating the waste of talent, etc.  Joy Casey has made an effort to bring the insights of A Call to Action to Canada, and has signed up  Deloitte and Touche LLP, E.I. DuPont Canada Company, Ernst & Young LLP, GlaxoSmithKline Inc. and Royal Bank of Canada.

The importance of A Call to Action is, as I learned, that it makes diversity matter on the bottom line. For some folks, this is how to get their attention and their energy onto a matter.  So these kinds of efforts could have a very significant impact on changing the practices and attention to diversity at large law firms. The American Call to Action has many signatories – who will be asking questions about “diversity performance” of their Canadian law firms. More information can be found at the website of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity [LCLD] (“Our vision is to significantly advance diversity and inclusion in our profession.”).  Here is pledge,, here is the LCLD’s 2008 White Paper, here are some reports on diversity in the U.S. legal context, and here’s an article about the program.  I think I heard that there are similar programs, but these lack the “teeth” of the Call to Action model, so query how much impact affirming commitments to diversity might mean without these “teeth”.

Present at the panel was Drucilla Ramey, now Dean of Golden Gate University Law School and a long time advocate for law firm diversity, who gently confirmed that I should not expect to ever escape the pull of this issue.  Seriously, at one point I actually thought this might not be something I would spend the rest of my life talking about. I don’t know if Dean Ramey actually rolled her eyes at me, but you know what I mean.  And I have been realising this slowly for a while. So.  New plan:  embrace it.


Interested? Find Law Times articles here and here, describing the activities of A Call to Action Canada, and the response of the profession.One of the most interesting things is the reporting that firms have to do for the purposes of benchmarking and measuring their success or failure in terms of diversity.  Maybe I can find more on that to post at a later date.

[In other news, it’s allergy season, I appear to have lost my Blackberry (Thursday night), and I’ve just moved into my newly renovated office, sans asbestos, but with many packed boxes.  The big question: will blogging suffer or thrive under these conditions? The “procrastination-of-other-tasks” aspect of blogging leaves this always unclear.



Kate Broer, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP

Fred W. Alvarez, Chair, ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, and Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Palo Alto)

Joseph K. West, Associate General Counsel, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Sonia Lawrence, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School York University, and Director, Institute for Feminist Legal Studies

Jenny Rivera, Professor, CUNY School of Law, and Director, CUNY School of Law Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality