Event Preview: Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum Will Focus on Improving Women’s Participation and Representation

Topics: Client Relations, Corporate Legal, Diversity, Law Firms, Legal Executive Events, Talent Development, Thomson Reuters, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

women's leadership

While diversity of law firm ranks and opportunities for women lawyers continue to be a crucial issue for the legal industry, it’s the related factor of inclusion — improving women’s participation and representation on boards, committees and in leadership roles — where the true progress will be achieved.

With this in mind, Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Lexpert are presenting the 2017 Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum on June 22 in Toronto, Ontario. The day-long event is entitled, “Empowerment by Improving Participation and Representation.”

The event coincides with a year-long commitment to advancing women’s representative leadership in the law, and will highlight the various challenges impacting rising female stars and discuss women’s leadership opportunities in some of Canada’s most prestigious legal and corporate organizations. Indeed, event organizers envision the Forum to act as a kind of summit for young professionals and distinguished luminaries to help improve women’s leadership opportunities for current and future generations.

Bindu Dhaliwal, Associate General Counsel & Director of Environmental, Social and Governance at BMO Financial Group

“The co-chairs and presenters of this conference represent the amazing depth and breadth of talent in the Canadian legal profession,” said Neil Sternthal, managing director of Thomson Reuters Canada. “And this forum offers attendees a unique opportunity to learn from these talented and connected women in the legal profession, as well as share their own insights to help others. We are proud to host this conference in Toronto, and hope to make this an annual event.”

The Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum will be co-chaired by Bindu Dhaliwal, the Associate General Counsel & Director of Environmental, Social and Governance at BMO Financial Group; and Shanin Lott, Managing Director of Talent & Professional Resources at Stikeman Elliott.

One of the key panels of the day is entitled, “Tales from the Front: Lessons on How to Lead”, and will feature some of the most powerful leaders from across Canada’s top organizations, such as Kenneth J. Fredeen, General Counsel & Secretary to the Board at Deloitte; Katherine L. Kay, Partner at Stikeman Elliott; Kikelomo Lawal, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary at Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation; and Caroline Tsai, Deputy General Counsel & Chief Regulatory Officer at BMO Financial Group.

The panelists will share their stories on the challenges they’ve encountered while advancing their careers and offer insights on the best ways legal leaders can encourage the advancement of women in the legal field, especially those working at their organizations. The panel will be moderated by Sumeet (Sonu) Dhanju-Dhillon, Partner at Torkin Manes.

Another key panel will focus on in-house legal departments and the opportunities for women lawyers to advance in those organizations. In fact, the panel will focus on the ability for women to move among law firms, corporate legal departments and management positions in business, addressing issues such as how to transition from traditional legal practice to the business world, which skills are most easily transferable, and how to identify the right opportunities.


The panelists will share their stories on the challenges they’ve encountered while advancing their careers and offer insights on the best ways legal leaders can encourage the advancement of women in the legal field, especially those working at their organizations.


Panelists, some of whom have made successful moves in this area, include Terrie-Lynne Devonish, Chief Compliance Officer for North America at AON Corporation; Christina Ongoma, Principal Investment Officer for Financial Institutions and Capital Markets at International Finance Corporation; ‎Jay Rosenzweig, Founding Partner of Rosenzweig & Company; and Anne Sonnen, Chief Compliance and Chief Risk Officer at Capital One Canada. The panel will be moderated by Event Co-Chair Lott.

In a great treat for attendees, a morning panel entitled “In August Company: Advancing Women’s Leadership on the Bench” will look at the progress being made for women on the judicial bench where women continue to occupy just one-third of all judiciary appointments in Canada and the United States.

A distinguished panel of four women judges will share their personal stories and strategic insights into this issue. Panelists feature the Honourable Justice Sandra Bacchus of the Ontario Court of Justice; the Honourable Justice Kimberley A. Crosbie of the Ontario Court of Justice; the Honourable Justice Kathryn N. Feldman of the Court of Appeal for Ontario; and the Honourable Justice Susan E. Lang, Court of Appeal for Ontario (retired). The panel moderator will be Sandra Barton, Partner at Gowling WLG-Canada.