Student Spearheads UAlberta Law Role in #LawNeedsFeminismBecause Campaign

Students, Faculty and members of legal community join national campaign thanks to Grace Cleveland's efforts

Ben Freeland - 08 March 2018

When third-year student Grace Cleveland first read about the #LawNeedsFeminismBecause campaign on Twitter, she was inspired to find out more. She quickly discovered it was a nationwide campaign spearheaded by McGill University Faculty of Law in 2016, that by 2018, had been embraced by law faculties across the country.

There was just one problem - the University of Alberta Faculty of Law was not involved. Realizing the gap that needed to be filled, Cleveland contacted the campaign's founder and director Rachel Kohut at McGill University, who got her up to speed on the initiative. Meanwhile, Cleveland plastered the Law Centre walls with posters in hopes of generating a buzz

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and before long a critical mass of UAlberta Law students and faculty members, as well as non-affiliated members of the Edmonton legal community, had lent their voices and faces to the campaign.

"It was important to me that it wasn't just a Faculty of Law campaign, that the broader legal community was also represented. I think my favourite message out of all of them is 'Our daughters deserve equality,' featuring a photo of a lawyer with her young daughter. After all, this campaign is about creating a better future," she explained.

Already doing triple duty as a law student, teaching fellow at Peter Lougheed Leadership College and team lead on the #ReconciliActionYEG blogging campaign, taking on this responsibility - particularly with such a narrow timeline - was no easy task. However for Cleveland, it was more than worth the extra stress.

"Seeing the images go up on the website made it all feel worthwhile. It would have been such a loss if we hadn't made it."

Alberta Law Reform Institute executive director Sandra Petersson, whose face leads off the UAlberta Law gallery on the LNFB site, together with her four-year-old daughter Linnea, applauds Cleveland's initiative and passion.

"This is a tremendous example of how a student-led initiative can provide leadership throughout the profession," said Petersson.

"I think LNFB is an extremely important initiative because the legal system continues to reflect on inequalities on many fronts, and I commend Grace for recognizing its importance and taking the lead in ensuring our involvement in it."

Cleveland, from White Rock, BC, already has her immediate post-graduation plans sorted out: she is set to begin articling with the law firm that bears her name - Cleveland Doan LLP - which was co-founded by her father Richard Cleveland. Her advocacy on behalf of feminism in the legal profession has even had an effect back at the home front, she adds.

" My dad is now talking about how he can better bring the feminist cause on board at his firm," she said.

While she is justifiably proud of her new-found role as a feminist leader at UAlberta Law, Cleveland is quick to acknowledge the many students, Faculty members and other supporters who immediately recognized the need to support this cause - particularly at this period in time.

"We're at a time of reckoning as a society," she said.