The Next Event…

Sistahs-in-Law Retreat and Fundraiser

10 Years Celebrating, Supporting and Showcasing
Black Female Lawyers

Friday November 11, 2016


Assembly Hall, City of Toronto

1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr, Etobicoke, ON M8V 4B6

Keynote Speaker: Justice Corrine E. Sparks
Click for Bio)



Member: $130 per person

     Non-Member: $150 per person

Student (Law / Undergraduate Student): $100 per person

At the door: $150 per person (Nov 6-11)



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2015 Retreat Workshop and Panel Resources

New Start: Setting Objectives and Deliverables

2015 has been a milestone year for the Black Female Lawyers Network. BFLN was incorporated as a Not-for-Profit and the founding board endeavoured to provide substantive opportunities – beyond the retreat – to convene, connect and learn. Working with event planners Cheryl-Ann Philip and Nadine Miller, this year’s retreat is about identifying objectives, setting realistic deliverables and crafting a successful strategy.

Given this formal new start, the first session of the 2015 Retreat is a workshop: Supporting Professional Needs. During the workshop, BFLN members will identify how the organization may practically support the professional needs of black women practicing law, in order to extend their participation in the profession and enhance their public contributions. 

Attendees are encouraged to review the articles below to help stimulate the discussion. What do you want BLFN to be? What do you need? At the end of the workshop, we hope to establish committees and identified programs BFLN can undertake for 2016.


We Need Both Networks and Communities by Henry Mintzberg – Harvard Business Review

You Need A Community, Not a Network by Brook Manville – Harvard Business Review 

All the Right Moves

The afternoon panel features four brilliant lawyers of diverse calls and diverse areas of the profession:

  • Suhuyini Abudulai, lawyer in the Financial Services Group at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
  • Hermie Abraham, lawyer and founder of Advocation Professional Corporation
  • Maud Murray, Deputy Director of the Legal Services Branches of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
  • Sue-Lynn Noel, Vice-President, Legal at GFL Environmental Inc.

Lead by moderator Natalie De Haney Stewart, counsel will reflect on how they have navigated and thrived the legal profession. Panelist will share insight, success, failure and tips.

Attendees are encouraged to review the linked resources below, and to engage in what will be an inspiring and lively discussion!

The Broad Experience Podcast

A terrific podcast exploring issues related to women in the workplace. All podcast episodes are under 30 minutes and free to download. You will not be disappointed!

Episode 23: Tips for success from a CEO

Episode 57: Women, work, and stress

Episode 47: Authenticity vs. conformity


Be Your Own Best Advocate by Deborah M. Kolb – Harvard Business Review

The Relationship You Need to Get Right – Harvard Business Review

Success Strategy Gone Bad – The Responsiveness Trap – Attorney with A Life

BFLN Quarterly Lunch

January 22, 2016, 12:30-2:00 p.m.

West End Sistahs – Canyon Creek Restaurant Mississauga (Square One)
Toronto Central Sistahs – Mercatto (Eaton Centre)
to by January 21, 2016


“Look closely at the present you are constructing:
it should look like the future you are dreaming.” – Alice Walker

The 9th Annual Sistahs-in-Law Retreat returns on
November 11, 2015!

Register Now!!
Heather M. Hutchinson, Retreat Keynote Speaker

Click Here for Retreat Agenda!!

2015 Retreat Workshop and Panel Resources

SISTAHSINLAW Retreat STD V2 - with venue info

This year the 9th Annual Sistah’s-in-Law Retreat and Fundraiser will be on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and held at the historic St. James Cathedral Centre, 65 Church Street, Toronto.
The 2015 Retreat “Constructing Present: Sustaining Success”, continues the tradition of providing insight, inspiration and affirmation to black professional women. Featuring professionally accredited panels; special guests and our celebrated Caribbean lunch, the Sistahs-in-Law Retreat is a must-attend for those in the know!

Inclusive in every ticket:

  • Light brunch
  • Panel and workshop
  • Access to speciality vendors
  • Special guest keynote & Caribbean lunch
  • Continuing Professional Development Accreditation (TBA)

Register Now!!

Click Here for Retreat Agenda!!

2015 Retreat Workshop and Panel Resources


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Excellence In Legal Profession Recognized


Renatta Austin

Renatta Austin’s bold decision to run in this year’s bencher election was met with surprise by some of her peers and veterans in the legal profession. Called to the Bar in 2013, she was the youngest of the 97 candidates seeking to join the influential board of directors that govern the Law Society of Upper Canada.

For Austin, age and experience didn’t matter.

“I know that becoming a bencher is something very few Black lawyers think about,” she said after being honoured last Saturday night with a Young Lawyer of the Year Award at the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers’ (CABL) 19th annual gala. “However, I thought it was something that had to be done because the people who are making decisions are so far removed from those who are affected by those decisions.

“When I look at some of the decisions the law society has made in the past few years, most of the big ones impact law students and young lawyers. I believe that any board of directors or governing body is truly enriched by having all of the stakeholders at the table.”

Benchers meet monthly in convocation meetings to set policy and determine other matters related to the governance of Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals. They also sit on panels as adjudicators to hear discipline cases concerning lawyer and paralegal conduct, licensing, competence and capacity.

It took 202 years for the first Black bencher to be elected to the law society’s governing council.


Congratulations Professor Adelle Blackett

Promotion AnnouncementCongratulations are in order for the humble and extraordinary legal scholar Professor Adelle Blackett!  In August 2015, Dr. Blackett was made a “Full-Professor” at McGill University.

From McGill News:

The Faculty is proud to announce that Professor Adelle Blackett, Ad. E., was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in August 2015.

“Adelle Blackett’s scholarly career has been remarkable in every respect. A world-class scholar in labour law, Adelle is regarded as an original, meticulous and insightful contributor in this field – indeed, as one of a small group of international thinkers behind the very idea of transnational labour law itself,” said Dean Daniel Jutras. “Her rich understanding of global economic trends, trade patterns, international governance, human dignity, equity and public policy has enabled her to weave together a unique perspective on the situation of migrant and domestic workers, on their fundamental rights, and on the different normative orders that play a role in shaping the lives of human beings at work.”

You may read the entire McGill press release here and Professor Blackett’s biography here.

Congratulations, Professor Blackett!

Heather M. Hutchinson, Retreat Keynote Speaker (Nov. 11, 2015)


Heather M. Hutchinson
Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs
Scripps Networks Interactive – US & International

Heather Hutchinson is Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Scripps Networks Interactive, home of the leading lifestyle and entertainment brands, HGTVFood NetworkCooking ChannelDIYTravel Channel and GAC (Great American Country).  As part of a team of negotiators, Heather secures the services of many of the networks’ most recognizable talent.  She also provides ongoing business and legal affairs support to Scripps’ international programming team in the UK and EMEA, and was part of the launch team of Food Network Brazil last year.  Prior to Scripps, Heather held similar positions at Discovery Communications, including leading the Talent Legal Affairs team and overseeing negotiations for all talent across the domestic networks, and negotiating and drafting agreements for the production, development, distribution and financing of programming for Discovery’s US and international networks.  Heather has a wealth of business and legal affairs experience in television, digital media, international production finance and intellectual property licensing.

Heather received her law degree from the University of Ottawa and her Bachelor of Science (Honors) from Queen’s University.  She is a member of both the New York and Ontario bars, and is an active member of a number of trade and professional organizations including the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), Corporate Counsel Women of Color, Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT), Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), Sports Lawyers Association and Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia.  Heather is also a Board Member and Co-Chair of the Membership Committee of the Washington DC/Baltimore Chapter of WICT.

WSIAT PT Vice Chair Positions

Dear Sistahs in Law,

Please be advised that Ontario’s Public Appointments Secretariat has posted a competition for 10 part-time Vice-Chair positions with WSIAT (PAS competition #1468). You can view the opportunity here:

The deadline for submitting applications for this competition is December 18th,2014.