Canadian Lawyer

June 2021

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Page 12 of 35 11 environmental personhood to the Magpie. The move toward environmental person- hood has been afoot since the 1970s; interna- tionally, New Zealand granted personhood to its Whanganui River in 2017, and India, Ecuador, Bolivia and Columbia have all taken similar measures to recognize the personhood of natural resources. The legality of granting personhood for natural resources, though, "depends on who has made declaration," says Paul Manning of Manning Environmental Law in Toronto. In 2014, New Zealand's Te Urewera National Park was declared Te Urewera, an environ- mental legal entity; but that declaration was made by the federal government. If a government, which owns a national park as Crown land, then decides to acknowl- edge the personhood of the national park, for example, meaning it's no longer owned by the government but is a person in its own right, "then that's a pretty authoritative view," says Manning. "That's pretty . . . conclusive." Environmental and residents' groups granting personhood, however, is "more of a lobbying effort; you can't really afford the same authority to it," he says. At the same time, "if you get Aboriginal groups, in any country, who are declaring the personhood of a river" or other natural resource, "then that has a more detailed and alternative history, in Aboriginal laws and traditions . . . and that brings a different authority to it." The Innus de Ekuanitshit are a First Nation band in Quebec living mostly in the Indian reserve of Mingan on the north coast of the St. Lawrence River. A representative of the community has described the river as forming an important part of the Innu of Ekuanitshit's traditional territory. Tips for female litigators Q&A Caroline Biron Managing partner WOODS LLP, MONTREAL Litigator Caroline Biron became managing partner of her firm, Woods LLP in Montreal, in 2019, and spoke to Canadian Lawyer about what it takes for women to succeed in what has been a predominantly male practice area — and profession. What should women who are looking at a career in litigation know? Women who choose litigation as a career have to be aware that it is a difficult environment. You're going to be representing clients who are either being sued or pursuing claims against another party, and very often those battles are hostile, so women need to realize it is an environment in which they need a lot of self-confidence, resilience and the ability to elevate themselves above the clients' problems. Is litigation tougher for women? You'll see a lot of women litigators in the first 10 years of practice and less women as you move up the ladder. The data shows that women face distinct, often insurmountable hurdles and that those remain misunderstood or underexamined. Women need to be super-qualified and tough, as they are still too often held to higher standards within their own firms and in the practice. As a woman, you have the impression that you are expected to choose between your professional aspirations and having a family. Firms must proactively address these issues, but, until they do, women have to be more astute about their careers, realize the way they are being perceived and not hesitate to assert what they really want, and make sure they get it: intellectually challenging work, recognition and acknowledgment that they are perfectly able to reasonably manage their personal and professional responsibilities How can 'imposter syndrome' be defeated? Make sure you put your name forward when opportunities present themselves. I find a lot of women wait before they raise their hands for certain opportunities, looking upon themselves as not yet qualified enough. Women should see these as opportunities to demonstrate what they can do and obtain more visibility. My advice for women is they have to trust themselves, put themselves forward and leave that place where they are maybe too comfortable. Would you recommend litigation as a practice area for women? Absolutely. It is a very rewarding career in which you have the opportunity to represent clients in difficult situations and to make an impact. The relationship of trust you develop over the years with clients is what this career is all about. Women need to ensure they are getting the support they need from their firm to navigate the first few years and then climb into the upper tiers. They should not hesitate to ask for good mentors and to get coaching, to invest in their careers or ask that their firms do so. Don't hesitate to improve! Years in law: 29 On having a mentor: "A mentor can give you a lot of feedback and [provide] a safe place to discuss any doubts regarding your career, a particularly difficult client or situation. A mentor who believes in you will do a lot to make sure that you stay in the profession and can certainly help you advance." On the art of negotiation: "The reason I'm able to do this job now is because I have all these years behind me as a litigator. Being able to negotiate is an essential part of the job such as the ability to identify a win- win situation. The end game is not necessarily about winning your case; most of the time the perfect outcome will be a negotiated solution." "As a lobbying manoeuvre to start a dialogue, to get legislative or judicial endorsements of that protection, it's a very worthwhile endeavour."

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