Fostering Women Leadership in the Legal Profession |

Fostering Women Leadership in the Legal Profession

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Substantive: 0.0
10 minutes
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: 1.0
1 hour
Fernando Garcia
Arleen Huggins
Kerry O'Reilly Wilks
Leola Pon
Edona C. Vila
Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA)
70 minutes
$119.00 plus tax

Seize the opportunity of an increasing business and organizational focus on diversity and inclusiveness!

An all-star panel of leading lawyers will explore the solutions that firms, organizations, and individuals are undertaking to clarify and increase pathways of leadership for women lawyers.

The dynamic panel discussion will then lead to a networking session where attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with colleagues and continue the conversation on promoting and developing women lawyers.

Diversity and inclusiveness.

Value of diversity and inclusion; Understanding power and privilege, unconscious bias;

Special responsibilities of lawyers to respect the human rights laws in force in Ontario; Best practices for workplace diversity and inclusion


Fernando Garcia General Counsel

Fernando Garcia [B.A (Labour Studies), M.I.R, B.C.L, LLB, and MBA] has held the role of General Counsel for Nissan Canada Inc. and previously Navistar Canada. He has an MBA, with a specialization in Strategic Management, civil and common law degrees, a Master of Industrial Relations, and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Labour Studies.

Fernando enjoys speaking and writing about issues relating to advancing diversity and inclusiveness within the legal profession, career advice for recent graduates and lawyers, as well as speaking about the Future of law and how technology is changing and will change the profession. Because of his work, Fernando was recently awarded the 2018 CCCA "Professional Contribution" award, the 2017 lnnovatio Award for Diversity, and was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential in the justice system and legal profession in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine. He was also awarded a 2016 Zenith Award for Diversity and Inclusion, was named as one of the "10 most influential Hispanic Canadians" by Canadian Hispanic Business on July 2015 and was the recipient of the "Tomorrow's Leader" award at the 2015 Canadian General Counsel Award.

Arleen Huggins Partner

Arleen Huggins is a Litigation Partner at Koskie Minsky LLP and heads the firm's Employment Law Gro up.

Arleen's expertise lies in employment law and human rights and commercial litigation. In the employment law area, Arleen acts on behalf of both employers and employees. Arleen is sought to provide opinions and to litigate all types of employment-related disputes at various court levels, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal and administrative tribunals. She has extensive experience drafting and negotiating complex employment contracts and related documents, including non-solicitation and non-competition agreements and shareholder agreements for employers and executives. She also represents both employer and employees in disability claims and in the area of human rights. She also has expertise in investigating workplace harassment and discrimination allegations and related matters. Arleen's commercial litigation practice, with a particular emphasis on beneficial ownership interests, includes both the resolution of disputes, as well as litigating at various court levels, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal and administrative tribunals. Arleen is a regular speaker for the Ontario Bar Association, Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall Law School Professional Development and Toronto Lawyers Association.

Arleen has been a strong and passionate voice in advocating for inclusiveness for racialized lawyers within the profession. In her capacity as a former CABL Executive Board Member (including Chair) and Chair of CABL's Advocacy Committee, Arleen worked diligently  to  advocate for  equity and diversity in the legal profession and to introduce strategies and initiatives to overcome the barriers and challenges experienced by racialized lawyers and racialized female lawyers. Arleen was also Chair of the OBA Equal Opportunity Committee for two years; and a member of CBA Standing Committee  on Equity for  five years, two of which as Chair.

Kerry O'Reilly Wilks Head of Legal, North Atlantic & UK

Kerry O'Reilly Wilks is the Head of Legal, North Atlantic & UK, for Vale S.A. (Base Metals Business), one of the largest mining companies in the world. In this role, Kerry oversees all issues arising in North America and the UK, including litigation, projects, operations, strategic planning, environmental, health and safety. Prior to this position, Kerry sat as the Head of Legal, Corporate and Marketing, for Vale's Base Metals Business, as well as the Global ChiefIT Counsel for Vale globally across all business lines. In this capacity, Kerry was the executive and senior legal officer responsible for advising executive management on legal issues and risks concerning corporate, treasury, securities, corporate governance, finance, tax, strategic alliances, sales/marketing and IT. She has also occupied a senior strategic advisory role regarding Vale's Asia-Pacific affiliates, as Head of Legal, Asia Pacific, where she faced all the challenges associated with being the legal representative of a publicly traded multinational dealing with foreign governments, foreign regulators and significant business partners. In addition, Kerry has been a driving force for innovative projects at Vale, including the creation of a legal knowledge management system.

Prior to joining Vale, Kerry was a partner with Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg LLP, a leading business law firm, focusing on multi-million dollar securities offerings and M&A transactions.

Kerry sits on the Board of Directors of The Giles School, a not-for-profit French/Mandarin school in Toronto, as well as on the Board of Directors of St. Michael's Hospital. With St. Michael's, Kerry also sits on the Business Services Committee and the Research & Education Committee of the Board. Kerry is the Founder and Chairperson of Malachy's Soiree, an annual gala to support the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at St. Michael's Hospital. Since  the first event in 2015, Kerry's efforts have raised approximately $500,000 for the SMH NICU. Kerry also sits on the Executive Committee of The Brain Project, a large-scale outdoor exhibit that brings brain health, art and imagination to the streets of Toronto benefitting Baycrest Health Sciences. In 2016, Kerry founded the "East Coast Disruptors", a group of senior female leaders with roots in the East Coast of Canada that mentor women in the early stages of their professional careers with similar geographical backgrounds. Kerry is a Sponsor under the GoSponsorHer campaign and does extensive work mentoring young women, as well as women and children in high risk circumstances.

Kerry was named as one of Lexpert's Rising Stars -Top 40 under 40 lawyers in Canada in 2012, as well as UNB's Alumni of Distinction in 2015 for her significant contributions to her profession on a global scale, as well as to communities, globally. Kerry has been featured in various publications for her professional and personal work, including as a feature in Precedent Magazine's 2016 Winter edition. Most recently, Kerry has been awarded a 2017 Zenith Award as one of the leading female lawyers in Canada and a significant change agent for women in law and society. In addition, Kerry was recently named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

Kerry lives in Toronto with her husband, Lloyd Wilks, their 3-year old son (Malachy), 10-year old daughter (Mairirois) and very active yorkie (Gigi)

Leola Pon General Counsel

Edona C. Vila

Edona Vila

Edona defends corporations, insurers, and public institutions in claims arising from consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, professional negligence, disability insurance, and construction disputes. She is committed to providing strategic and pragmatic solutions in every case through an integrated blend of preparation and understanding of her client's business. Edona regularly advocates on behalf of clients and has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, including the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Edona's previous legal experience includes working within the in-house legal departments of a global pharmaceutical company and two leading Ontario hospitals. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Edona worked as a Management Consultant with a focus in the health care industry and as a Medical Radiation Technologist at five teaching and community hospitals in Ontario.

Edona's academic training in life and medical radiation sciences, and graduate degree in management of innovation, assist her in the defence of claims involving complex scientific and technical factual matrix.

In addition to serving as a mentor to law students at BLG, Edona enjoys contributing to the legal community. She has a special interest in the intersection of innovation and the law, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion in the profession. She serves on the Board of the Toronto Lawyers' Association

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