Magazine article Herizons

FAIRLY EQUAL: Lawyering the Feminist Revolution

Magazine article Herizons

FAIRLY EQUAL: Lawyering the Feminist Revolution

Article excerpt

FAIRLY EQUAL Lawyering the Feminist Revolution LINDA SILVER DRANOFF Second Story Press


Linda Silver Dranoff's calling helped to change family law in Canada.

Dranoff became a lawyer at about the same time that family law became a specialty, following the passage of Canada's first federal Divorce Act. Her memoir, Fairly Equal: Lawyering the Feminist Revolution, chronicles her role in shaping Canadian family law.

One of 14 women in her law class of 300, Dranoff was a divorced single mother. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women released its final report in 1970, during Dranoff's second year of undergraduate studies. She studied the recommendations and, when a women's centre opened nearby, offered to teach a free course on the history of women's legal issues. In law school, she conducted a survey of women lawyers for a course. She found that women's histories shouted discrimination but the women themselves denied it. A classmate's separate survey of law firms found that 40 percent of the firms freely admitted to discriminating against women candidates.

Dranoff's own challenges to find a place to article convinced her she was better off being her own boss. As a one-person law firm, she practised every kind of law except criminal law. As a feminist, she also participated in the founding of the National Association of Women and the Law, a network of women lawyers and law students. In 1974, the Ontario Law Reform Commission proposed the principle that marriage be regarded as an economic partnership, and that property acquired during a marriage should be divided equally upon divorce. …

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