We are delighted to join SLAW as your two feminist legal practitioners. We wear multiple hats with pride: we are small business owners, small practitioners, staunch feminists, young lawyers, and queer women. We stand in solidarity with sex workers, keen and questioning law students, community activists, brave women who survive trauma and are stronger for it, harm reductionists, transfolk, people of colour, contrarians, and people who speak frankly about the deficiencies in the composition and conventions of our legal system. We like all of these people’s voices to be heard, more so than what is traditionally allowed in the practice of law. As feminist lawyers, if we can help amplify their perspectives, we are doing our job.
But, being a feminist lawyer is akin to using an eyedropper to dilute the sea. Change within the legal system is going to take a long time, and in the meantime, we are engaged in slow, painstaking, and seemingly futile work. How do you explain trauma and emotional abuse to a decision-maker when they need to see physical injuries to understand violence? How do you convey to opposing counsel that your client did not invite a sexual assault by her conduct or clothing? How do you explain to your client that despite the sexual violence she has experienced, a court will be hesitant to believe her, or award her damages that reflect her losses? And just who pays you to have any of these difficult conversations, anyhow?
We’re going to keep trying until it gets easier.
Welcome to our corner of SLAW, where we intend to talk about all things feminist, and some things legal, in the aim of reconciling the two. In our blog posts, we’ll be discussing the application of feminist philosophy to legal practice, the promise (and disappointment) of tort law, the new frontier of family law for queers, the slow but safe progress of human rights law, prospects for judicial reform, and how to enable young law students to be respectable, awesome, feminist lawyers themselves, amongst other hot topics.
Our eyedropper isn’t simply diluting an ocean. It’s creating a small wave somewhere out on the horizon. You can’t quite see it yet, but there’s a miniature movement comprised of feminist lawyers, their clients, their supporters, and a community of like-minded folks who believe that change can happen over time, that our system can become more humane, and more responsive to the systemic violence and oppression that women and other marginalized communities continue to experience. We’re riding that wave, friends; join us.