The Top 25 Most Influential 2019 winner
Partner, Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP, Montreal
Julie Girard played a pivotal role in changing the way Canadian amateur athletes are supported and protected. Her work in representing, on a pro bono basis, four women who were among the young sexual assault victims of convicted former ski coach Bertrand Charest led to the introduction of provincial and federal policies for sport bodies. Amélie- Frédérique Gagnon, Gail Kelly, Anna Prchal and Geneviève Simard engaged Girard to represent them. Girard advised and supported her clients through their decision to disclose their identities and demand changes by sports organizations and governments. The following week, the federal government unveiled policies requiring all national sport bodies to immediately disclose any allegations of abuse, harassment or discrimination to the sports minister’s office and to make provisions for an independent third party to investigate the allegations. The Quebec government acceded to the request made by Girard’s clients for the development of a government plan (which should be implemented by 2020) to prevent all forms of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in sport.