It is often said that “the wolf does not walk alone, she always carries her pack.” Indeed, one is left to wonder whether Julie DeWolf derives her unwavering commitment to service to the legal and broader community as well as her democratic and affiliative leadership style from her surname! As the SOGIC Executive’s (the Executive) outgoing Chair, no one will deny that Julie has been instrumental in fostering an Executive that highly values creating safe spaces. In particular, for diverse legal professionals to utilize their varied ideologies and skill sets to advance the substantive equality rights of the 2LGBTQ+ community.
Road to the Bar
Upon review of Julie’s CV, one will immediately notice her manifold interests and skills within and as well as outside of the legal profession and academy. Julie is a well-rounded consummate professional. In addition to coaching ultimate frisbee, a love for budgies, sharks and gardening, Julie was a competitive cross country runner. Impressively, she was a member of Acadia University’s Women’s Varsity Cross Country team.
It was Julie’s passion for running that ultimately led her to the law. She was coaching a half marathon clinic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “I would pace my runners up a hill and, if they wanted an extra challenge, ask them to tell me about their day. A few runners were in law school and told me about their classes” she recalls, her eyes bright with delight. Intrigued by her trainees' law school anecdotes, Julie did some research into the field and the rest as they say is her story! Day dreaming of one day working on legal issues related to non-heteronormative marriage and parenting, Julie applied to a handful of law schools. “I love the ocean and so I applied to coastal schools, University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, University of British Columbia, and University of Victories.” Julie eventually attended the University of Victoria (UVic), attracted by its small size and her love for Victoria - “I had raced there for cross country nationals in 2007 and was eager to go back.”
At law school, Julie’s prowess as a legal academic and her aptitude for community service as well as community leadership became evident. She graduated Valedictorian of the UVic Law School’s class of 2013. She was also the recipient of three of the law school’s major awards. First, the Ann Roberts Humanitarian award in recognition of her outstanding and selfless contribution of time and effort in lending support and assistance to the well-being of individuals both within and outside the Law School. Second, the F. Murray Fraser Award for her outstanding contribution to “life at the law school”. Finally, the Gina Quijano Unsung Hero Award for her commitment to community service.
Julie was admitted to practice at the Ontario Bar in June 2016.
An Unsung Hero for Sex Workers
In 2008, upon completion of her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Acadia University, Julie received the Lois Valley-Fisher Award for Democratic Student Citizenship in recognition of her contributions to the quality of democratic discourse, for demonstrating leadership in defending student political rights and the interests of disadvantaged groups. It is therefore unsurprising that Julie has since gone on to bat for the interests of sex workers in Canada.
After, a three-year stint in the civil litigation boutique firm Rogers Partners LLP, Julie founded and currently operates a free legal clinic providing summary legal advice to sex workers. Additionally, her LLM research, focused primarily on transgender sex workers, and the various legal issues they face in their careers due to their transgender identities
Julie is currently a doctoral student at Osgoode Hall Law School. As a PhD candidate, she focuses on Indigenous sex workers and their experiences in child custody proceedings. In Ocotober 2021 Julie’s paper entitled “Sex Workers and the Best Interests of their Children” was published in the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice. She has also presented at various conferences on related themes, such as, her presentation entitled “Impacts of Stigma, Colonialism, and Systemic Racism on Indigenous Sex Worker Parents Involved in Child Protection Proceedings in Canada” delivered at Dalhousie University’s Law & Impact: The Graduate Law Research Transition Conference 2021.
Daydreams become the reality - LGBTQ+ Community Leader
As someone who identifies as a member of LGBTQ+ Community and whose commitment to humanitarianism is forthcoming, it was inevitable that Julie would also emerge as a thought leader in and advocate for the LGBTQ+ legal community. Julie’s undergraduate thesis discussed “the personal, political, and social implications of bisexual identification”. In law school, she penned a major research paper cleverly entitled “Good lord. Are the kids okay?”: An inside look at transgender parents and the struggle for guardianship.” Julie, with you in their corner, I think it’s safe to say “the kids are gonna be ok”
Currently, as a PhD candidate, Julie has begun developing her brand as a teacher and mentor for upcoming LGBTQ+ legal professionals. “I teach, and always make sure that my students know that I am part of the LGBTQ+ community because I know it can be difficult to be out in certain legal professions.”
Finally, Julie was invited to attend a SOGIC Executive meeting as a guest at a networking event. “I had recently left my job as a civil defence lawyer at Rogers Partners LLP, … (hello to any of my former colleagues, I miss you!) and was looking to reconnect with the LGBTQ+ community.” Julie initially joined the Executive as a member at large in May 2019. The following year Julie took on the role of Continuing Professional Development Chair. Julie’s peers on the Executive immediately noticed her potential for leadership and approached her to run for Vice Chair. In 2021 and 2022, respectively, Julie was elected to be the Executive’s Vice Chair and Chair.
Some Fun Facts about Julie DeWolf
Julie is a proud lover of Halifax and is soon to be a resident there. If you fancy taking Julie out to celebrate her stellar accomplishments and contributions to the legal profession, I suggest you make a reservation at La Bella Managua, a Nicaraguan restaurant on Bloor. According to Julie “the fried squeaky cheese” is must have. For those of you curious about what Julie reads when not researching issues on sex workers, pick up a copy of ‘M Is for Mustache’ by Catherine Hernandez - “It’s a beautifully illustrated children’s book that was gifted to me by my dear friend Jennifer Knoch after the recent birth of my child… The book is all about the ABCs of Toronto Pride!”. While Julie tends to be conservative with her dress-code, deriving her taste for uniformity in style from Steve Jobs, her taste in music reveals an adventurous free spirit. Her favourite song is Flag by Bishop Briggs.
It was Rudyard Kipling who said that the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. Julie, on behalf of the Executive, the LGBTQ+ legal community and our allies, many thanks for all that you have contributed and will continue to contribute to LGBTQ+ pack!
About the Author
Tamara J. Sylvester (one/they/them) is a lawyer working in the Human Rights Services Office at Toronto Metropolitan University. In addition to conducting investigations into human rights and sexual violence complaints at the University, one provides education and training on the University’s human rights and sexual violence policies. One is also the Co-Liaison of Public Affairs and Assistant Section Editor of the SOGIC Executive. (email@example.com)
The author would like to express their gratitude to Kirsti Mathers-McHenry (she/her), Lawyer & Consultant, Mathers McHenry & Co., and SOGIC Section Editor for her support in editing this article.
Any article or other information or content expressed or made available in this Section is that of the respective author(s) and not of the OBA.