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Honouring the trailblazers on International Women's Day

Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt was one of the first women to attend law school in Manitoba and the first to earn her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Manitoba. After being called to the Manitoba Bar in 1917, Isabel founded an organization to help women in the profession. She founded her own firm in Grandview. She took a hiatus from law when she got married but resumed practising law after her husband passed. She had a long, distinguished career with the City of Winnipeg and earned her Queen’s Counsel Designation in 1952.

The Manitoba Bar Association created the Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt Award in 2011 to recognize role models for women lawyers. Anita Southall, a lawyer who has practised law at Fillmore Riley since 1988, received the award in 2022. She has held several leadership roles in the legal community, including her tenure as President of the Law Society of Manitoba, but one of her most important contributions is blazing the trail for women lawyers.

Fillmore Riley alumna Eleanor Wiebe, KC, is also a role model for women in law. Her contributions as a lawyer, community leader and professor in Canada and abroad did not go unnoticed. The Manitoba Bar Association awarded her the 2013 MBA Community Involvement Award and the 2018 MBA Distinguished Service Award.

Throughout Anita's and Eleanor's careers at the firm, they received the support they needed to succeed. Recognizing the importance of retaining women, Fillmore Riley developed policies in the early 1990s, with guidance from Anita and Eleanor, that supported parenthood and professional advancement. Since then, many more women have succeeded at Fillmore Riley as professionals, firm leaders and law partners. On International Women’s Day, we honour all the women at our firm and pay homage to the role models who paved the path for women in law.