Canadian Lawyer

June 2021

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UPFRONT 8 www.canadianlawyermag.com ONTARIO UPDATE IT TOOK law school and just less than 10 years of practice for Jodie Primeau to find her way back to the approximately 4,100-person town of Deep River, Ont., where she grew up. Graduating from the University of Ottawa's common law program, she began in criminal defence at a firm in the city. She moved to Kingston, worked for a couple of sole prac- titioners and then Queen's University. She found the traditional law firm model, the pyr- Deep River's Jodie Primeau on building a 'feminist legal ecosystem for rural areas' "I obviously chose the latter," she says. And she replaced the "i" in "Primeau" with the symbol for female: . "I jokingly say we put our lady parts right in the middle of our name," she says. "We started using that display as that disruptive mentality to really start to engage the community in what we were doing, and it's really evolved from there." Primeau emphasizes the significant sup- port residents of Deep River have shown the firm and its feminist mission. But there has also been pushback and confusion about how a feminist law firm would operate. Some thought the firm would not take on male cli- ents, and a few clients fired them. "I think that we can't leave feminism up to only those in big city centres, where things like feminist firms are a little bit more expected, and where the culture around feminism is a little bit more robust," she says. "Feminists in rural places like Deep River have an obliga- tion, I think, to wave the feminist flag and to further educate about why equality is impor- tant and why we're not there yet." Primeau wanted her firm to flatten the pyramid and reject the 'glorification of exhaustion' amid structure where the grunt labour flows downwards and the credit and glory flow up, did not suit her. Nor did the omnipresent "glo- rification of exhaustion." "There wasn't a lot of space for women and specifically women who choose to have and bear children," says Primeau. "There was a permeation throughout the law firm struc- tures that I've seen of outdated and difficult beliefs about a woman's place in a competitive and adversarial practice. "And so, after having worked in all of these places, I decided I wanted to create a space where I thought I could thrive and where I thought other women could thrive." Primeau Law PC provides criminal defence services, real estate, wills and estates, fam- ily law and mediation. It is Deep River's first female-founded and female-run law office. With its unique history and nearby military base, Deep River has a diverse population, including a substantial conservative element, says Primeau. So, in launching a firm, she says, she either had to downplay the fact the firm was female run or "just run right into it." NEWS BRIEFS LSO approves regulatory sandbox for innovative legal tech development The initiative recommended by the Law Society of Ontario's technology task force would open up a regulatory safe zone for innovative technological legal services. Participants will report to and be monitored by the LSO, which will study the sandbox to inform policy and regulatory decision-making. Motions to amend the task force's motion and to defer the matter to the professional regulation committee for further consideration failed. First merits decision on role of human rights in COVID pandemic In its first merits decision on the role of human rights in the COVID pandemic, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found visitor restrictions at a care home for youth with disabilities discriminated against a resident. The claim arose from the respondent's restrictions on in-person meetings and social distancing policies, which prevented the plaintiff from communicating with his family. The plaintiff is a non-verbal communicator, using gestures and touch to communicate. "I think that we can't leave feminism up to only those in big city centres, where things like feminist firms are a little bit more expected." Jodie Primeau, Primeau Law PC Jodie Primeau

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