The next leading lawyer profile in this series features Vandana Sood who is truly making a difference as the Supervising Lawyer at Rise Women's Legal Centre in Vancouver. RISE may sound familiar as Executive Director Kim Hawkins has also been profiled in this series.
Learn about why Vandana journeyed from molecular biology to working at a feminist legal clinic and her helpful advice on how to figure out what to do with your law degree:
1.Tell me a little about your practice or business.
I am the Supervising Lawyer at the Rise Women’s Legal Centre. Here, I have the opportunity to teach law students to be effective, compassionate and courageous advocates on behalf of women and those who identify as women to escape situations of violence and oppression, and to bring stability to their lives by helping to resolve their family law matters.
2. Why did you go to law school?
I went to law school as a mature student because I wanted to do work which would help remedy societal inequities and resulting injustices which I observed around me. I figured the tools I needed to change society were the laws which govern society, so I decided to become a lawyer to have the tools and the power to try to make those changes. My specific motivation for pursuing a career in law was to assist women and particularly women of color in escaping situations of violence and oppression, and to empower them and help lift themselves up.
3. How did you get to where you are today? Design? Chance? Both?
I initially worked in molecular biology out of university, by chance. I always knew I was more interested in the helping professions, for the above reasons of addressing unfairness and societal inequities. Through trial and error, I realized that law was the best way for me to address these issues.
4. What is your most significant achievement? What are you proud of?
I am proud that I have been able to shape my career to work in an area which I believe in so strongly; assisting women in escaping situations of violence and moving forwards with their lives, and that I am now able to do this work within a larger context of training future lawyers and working within the larger anti-violence, women’s and legal communities. I am proud of the achievements of our very new Centre, we have helped so many women and our students leave the Centre with such passion for this work.
5. What are some key challenges and opportunities for women in law?
The challenges are that the legal profession is conservative, cautious and slow to embrace change, and still somewhat patriarchal in nature. The opportunities are that the legal profession is changing, albeit slowly, and a law degree adds power to women’s voices, so use your voice!
6. What advice would you give a woman starting her legal career?
Think about why you started a legal career, don’t forget that reason as you go through law school. Seek out mentors who are doing the work you are interested in and talk to them. If you don’t know what you are interested in then volunteer or work summers/part-time in areas that pique your interest to see if you like them. The hardest thing when starting out is knowing what you want to do with your law degree. Once you know, pursue it, no matter the supposed odds, and the path will open before you.
Thank you Vandana for agreeing to be profiled in this series. You can find out more about Vanada and how to support RISE here.
ICYMI: Previous posts profiled Kathryn Manning, Kim Hawkins, Kyla Lee, and Eva Chan. Sign up to have these profiles sent directly to your email address and stay tuned for the next post soon!
The "Women Leading in Law" series focuses on good news stories and highlights amazing women succeeding in the legal profession. Each post includes the profiled lawyer's answers to six questions. Prepare to be inspired!
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance litigator, researcher & writer at Cowling Legal Freelance and President and Founder of FLEX LEGAL, a network of freelance lawyers.