The Advisory: Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2011

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Calgary Family Lawyer Inducted into Alberta Order of Excellence

By Derek Sankey

Calgary matr imonial lawyer Patricia Blocksom, QC, has had a stellar year. Not only was she recognized with Alberta’s highest honour by being inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence – one of only seven lawyers to receive the honour and the only female – but she was also recently recognized with the Canadian Bar Association’s 2011 Touchstone Award for her tireless work on equality and gender issues in the legal profession.

Ms. Blocksom, who practises with Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP, was a founding member of the CBA’s National Task Force on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession in 1991. The task force’s 1993 Touchstones for Change report made over 200 recommendations concerning gender equality within the field of law. As one of Canada’s foremost family law practitioners, she has also been directly involved in equity work as the director of the Partners in the Horn of Africa, a charity that funds sustainable development in Ethiopia, but also as a board member of Future Generations of Canada, which supports grassroots development in Afghanistan.

“I have always felt very strongly that it’s important to give back to your community, whether that community is Calgary, Alberta, Canada or globally,” says Ms. Blocksom. “It opens my heart and nourishes my soul in a way that nothing else I’ve done has, so I feel privileged to be able to do that work.”

As a 1982 graduate of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1998 and was inducted into the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2001. The CBA Touchstone Award, which celebrates individuals or organizations who promote equality in the legal profession, the judiciary or the legal community in Canada, was presented to her in Halifax on August 16, 2011.

It is clear her passion for equality issues and access to justice knows no bounds. “It’s important to speak up when you see the system not working well for the public because we serve the public,” Ms. Blocksom says. “It’s important to lift up our heads from the rigors of practise.”

At the same time, she is quick to point out that she hasn’t accomplished all of this alone. “A lot of people have worked with me on a lot of causes, so this isn’t just my efforts,” she says, noting people such as Marie Gordon and Sheila Martin as examples of the vast amount of support she has with her in her ongoing endeavors.

“She is a true champion for the improvement of the status of women in Canada and internationally, and is a shining example of the positive impact lawyers can have within their own communities as well as abroad,” says Aleem Bharmal, chair of the CBA’s Standing Committee on Equality.

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