Pam Hrick moves in-house to continue her fight to advance gender equality

Former private practice lawyer is new executive director and general counsel at LEAF

Pam Hrick moves in-house to continue her fight to advance gender equality
Pam Hrick

Having spent much of her career fighting to advance gender equality and end violence against women, Pam Hrick jumped at the opportunity to join the Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund in February. As executive director and general counsel, Hrick is responsible not only for legal matters, but also for the general operations, financial management and fund development for LEAF. She oversees litigation and law reform work for the organization that aims to advance gender equality by supporting the rights of women, girls and gender diverse people. As one of the spokespeople for LEAF, Hrick also takes responsibility for media relations and government relations, and she works with the board to establish a strategic plan for the organization.

“This role was an opportunity to marry my passion with my profession,” says Hrick. “I have a passion for advancing equality generally, so there is a lot of overlap between the job and what I really love spending time doing.” Hrick currently serves as chair of the board of the 519 in Toronto – an organization dedicated to the advancement and advocacy for LGBTQ people.

Hrick brings five years of private practice experience from public law and litigation boutique, Stockwoods LLP, where her work included criminal defence, corporate commercial, and advising survivors of gender-based violence and sexual violence. Her earlier experience includes working as a clerk for the Hon. Justice Thomas A. Cromwell at the Supreme Court of Canada and the Hon. Justice David Stratas at the Federal Court of Appeal.  Hrick has also  served as legislative advisor and issues manager to the Attorney General of Ontario

The transition to an in-house role has been smooth for Hrick, thanks to the support of the small team at LEAF. The organization has only eight employees including Hrick and three other lawyers.

“It’s really made a big difference coming into an environment where I’m working with a team that is uniformly dedicated to the goals and has established a really healthy and progressive, collaborative work environment,” she says. “We encourage sharing of ideas and creativity in the challenges that we confront, whether it’s about the main work of gender equality or in the day-to-day operations and financial management.”

Hrick’s interest in the legal response to technology-facilitated violence predates her time at LEAF. For the past two years she has been working on a project together with academics, practitioners and community groups to discuss and seek solutions to technology-facilitated violence – including everything from the non-consensual distribution of intimate images to harassment online. LEAF commissioned and released a report on this topic in April, called Deplatforming Misogyny – written by lawyer Cynthia Khoo – which includes recommendations to the federal government to address this pervasive problem.

“I was really excited to be part of that launch,” says Hrick. “It’s particularly timely because the federal government has been signalling that it intends to introduce legislation addressing this issue some time in the near future.”

Among many litigation projects and intervention proposals, LEAF has been granted standing to participte in the proceedings of the Mass Casualty Commission, which is investigating mass casualties linked to gender-based violence that occurred in Nova Scotia last year, so Hrick will be actively involved in LEAF's work with the Commission.

In the months ahead Hrick’s key goal is to use finite resources to continue advancing gender equality from an intersectional feminist perspective.

“I want to ensure that our law reform work and litigation work really recognizes the different lived realities of women and girls who hold other intersecting identities – including Black women, trans women, Indigenous women – and ensuring that we are bringing all women and gender diverse people along as we try to make gains in gender equality,” she says.

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