Faculty of Law alumnae shine in this year’s Women in Law Leadership awards

A professor, a student and a Supreme Court justice — all from the U of A — took home prestigious awards for their professional and community work

Doug Johnson - 23 November 2023

Members of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law community made a strong showing at this year’s Women in Law Leadership (WILL) awards. 

Alumna Justice Mary Moreau of the Supreme Court of Canada is the recipient of WILL’s lifetime achievement award. Associate Professor Anna Lund received the 2023 Alberta Leadership in the Profession, Broader Roles award, and master’s student Stella Varvis received the organization’s Stronger Together award. 

WILL’s 13th annual award ceremony runs in Edmonton on Nov. 23. 

“As dean of the Faculty of Law, I am especially gratified and inspired to see Justice Mary Moreau, Professor Anna Lund, and Stella Varvis included among this year’s WILL Awards recipients. In addition to being leaders in the legal community, these women are prominent alumni with close and ongoing connections to our Faculty,” says Dean Barbara Billingsley.

“Throughout her long and distinguished career as a lawyer and a jurist in Alberta, and especially during her time as Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of King’s Bench, Justice Mary Moreau (LLB 1979) has been a strong supporter of the Faculty’s mission to provide top quality legal education to future lawyers. We are especially excited to see Justice Moreau being recognized as a career WILL Award recipient as she embarks on her new role as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.”

“We are also thrilled to see Anna Lund (LLB 2007) — a popular and productive associate professor at the Faculty of Law — and Stella Varvis (LLB 2001) — currently an LLM student at the Faculty of Law — being recognized for their respective ongoing contributions to diversity and access to justice issues. This is a very proud moment for the Faculty of Law!”

As recipient of the Alberta Leadership in the Profession, Broader Roles award, Lund has mentored law students and new lawyers. Further, she’s volunteered to provide pro bono legal advice to low income individuals through the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the Court of King's Bench Assistance Program.

"This moment of recognition is particularly meaningful for me, because my nominator is a long time friend, and mentor, Kathryn Oviatt (BA 2001, LLB ‘05). I’ve known Katie since before law school, and she  has helped guide me through the early years of applying to law school and finding an initial post-graduation job,” she says.

Lund completed both her undergraduate degree in political science and her law degree at the U of A, graduating in 2004 and 2007, respectively. After finishing her masters in law at the University of California Berkeley in 2011 and her PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2016, she began working at the U of A as an assistant professor. 

Lund notes that the U of A Faculty of Law has played a key part in deciding her career path. For Lund, studying at the Faculty of Law gave her the space to “fall in love” with legal scholarship, the legal profession and law “as a way of thinking about the world.”

The Stronger Together award celebrates candidates whose work has led to a positive impact for their community through leadership, work and pioneering new approaches. Varvis’ work as a disability advocate over the past few years certainly fits the bill. 

“To me, this award celebrates community and connection. I am so grateful to everyone whose support and influence are reflected in this tremendous honour,” says Varvis, who is also legal counsel at the Alberta Law Reform Institute. 

Varvis served as the Chair of the Provincial Parent Advisory Committee for the Family Support for Children with Disabilities program and was invited by the Office of the Advocate for Persons with Disabilities to join a working group to provide advice to the provincial government about enacting effective accessibility legislation in Alberta. She hopes to continue being an advocate for people with disabilities after graduation as well. 

“Like many people in the disability field, I have a personal connection to the work. Starting an LLM in disability law feels like a natural extension of the policy and advocacy work I've been engaged with over the last few years,” she says. 

“On a practical level, I am hoping to use my LLM research to help inform the conversation regarding the adoption of accessibility legislation in Alberta. Being able to connect my academic interests with my advocacy work in this way has been deeply rewarding.”

Lund and Varvis also note that they are part of a larger community, one that has helped them achieve their goals, and work toward the betterment of the community at large. 

“I'm just one small piece in a much bigger community that is continuously striving for recognition, inclusion and acceptance for persons with disabilities,” Varvis says.