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UBC President Santa Ono Visits the CFLS

By Allison Sharkey and Alison Colpitts

On Tuesday, January 17, UBC President Santa Ono visited the Peter A. Allard School of Law for a tour of its research centres. In addition to visiting the Centre for Asian Legal Studies, the Indigenous Students’ Lounge, and the Centre for Business Law, President Ono stopped by to lend his support to the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies (CFLS). Led by Professor Debra Parkes, Chair in Feminist Legal Studies, students and faculty engaged President Ono in a discussion on a variety of topics, including the Centre’s 20th anniversary, the RISE Women’s Legal Centre, and the social media campaign #LawNeedsFeminismBecause.

Professor Parks began by highlighting the Centre’s high-impact, policy-oriented research and presented President Ono with a sampling of the Centre’s most recent publications. She also drew attention to the CFLS’s community engagement, focusing on the standing speaker series.

Professor Janine Benedet, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs and former Co-Director of the CFLS, next introduced President Ono to the Centre’s new initiative addressing gender inequality, the RISE Women’s Legal Centre. Launched in May as a partnership with West Cost LEAF, the RISE Centre operates to provide free legal services to low-income women, primarily in the area of family law. Professor Benedet then introduced JD candidate Elizabeth Cameron to talk about her recent experience working at RISE. Elizabeth noted how RISE allowed her to put her interest in feminist legal studies into action and mentioned her appreciation of encountering first-hand the gendered issues around access to justice in British Columbia. President Ono showed particular interest in this last point, engaging Elizabeth, Professor Benedet, and Dean Catherine Dauvergne in a discussion around the problems with legal aid funding in BC.

Rochelle Kelava, Student Coordinator of the CFLS, expressed gratitude for President Ono and the UBC Administration’s interest in the Centre, noting the important role that the CFLS plays in many students’ decisions to study law at Allard. Rochelle emphasized that the centre fosters respectful dialogue among students, staff, and faculty on topics that may not be addressed in the JD curriculum.

By the time the visit drew to a close, President Ono had reaffirmed his support for the CFLS, committing to help the Centre as it grows its Speaker Series and fundraising efforts. President Ono also expressed his interest in participating in #LawNeedsFeminismBecause, a nation-wide social media campaign to make space for our experiences and diversity to legal education and the legal profession.

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Introducing Professor Debra Parkes

Welcome, Professor Debra Parkes!

Welcome, Professor Debra Parkes

The CFLS is pleased to introduce Professor Debra Parkes, who has joined the Peter A. Allard School of Law as Chair in Feminist Legal Studies, as of July 1 2016. The Chair plays a leadership role at Allard Hall, as well as nationally and internationally, in fostering feminist research networks, mentoring JD and graduate students, and contributing to feminist scholarship addressing a range of issues. In this role, Debra will continue to build on the remarkable work of Professor Emerita Susan B. Boyd, the first incumbent of the Chair and Director of the Centre from 1997–2012. Professors Janine Benedet and Isabel Grant will continue as Co-Directors of the CFLS until January 1, 2017, at which time Professor Parkes will begin a three-year term as Director.

As a student at UBC Law School in the mid-1990s, Professor Parkes benefitted first-hand from the support of the CFLS. The Centre provided an opportunity to interact with academics, lawyers, and community leaders who were making a difference on feminist issues. In her time in practice following law school, as well as during the past 15 years as an academic, Professor Parkes has lent her expertise to such key feminist legal organizations as (to name only a few):

  • Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (as Editor-in-Chief from 2009-2013)
  • Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
  • National Association of Women and the Law
  • Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba

Professor Parkes’ particular research interests relate to the criminalization and imprisonment of women. She has published widely in this and other areas. She is a regular commentator in the media and contributor to judicial education and continuing legal education seminars. Students will be excited to know that Professor Parkes is looking forward to dropping into the Marlee Kline room regularly for tea and conversation, and that she is delighted to be teaching LAW 307 Women, Law & Social Change in Fall 2016.

The Centre is very much looking forward to this new chapter in Professor Parkes’ capable hands, and would like to extend a very warm welcome to her from our community!

To learn more about Professor Parkes’ background, specific research interests, and what she’s looking forward to at UBC, see here for a Q&A.

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