Day: May 8, 2014

First Female Student-At-Law (Throwback Thursday)

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There was no female member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan when it came into existence in 1907. Margaret I. Burgess’s application for admission as a student-at-law in 1912 was refused as there was no provision in The Legal Profession Act for admission of females.

7 Mar 1912 – Student refused – Miss Burgess

Moved by Mr. Patrick seconded by Mr. MacKenzie that in the opinion of the Benchers the Legal Profession Act makes no provision for admission of females and that the application of Miss Margaret I. Burgess be therefore refused; and that the fee deposited be returned to her.  Carried.

burgessHowever, the deputy attorney general was informed that if an amendment to The Legal Profession Act authorizing the admission of women were proposed, it would meet with no opposition from the Law Society. On January 11, 1913, an amendment to the Act was passed allowing for admission of female students. Burgess was admitted as a student-at-law in June 1913. The Regina Morning Leader reported the following on November 29, 1924:

Intrepid Girl Lawyer Making Pioneer Move – Margaret I. Burgess Is First Woman Lawyer In Province To Open Office For Self

Though her knees were shaking and she had no idea how she got through it Miss Margaret I. Burgess, Saskatchewan’s first woman lawyer, won the first case she pleaded in court. This was in Weyburn, where she has been practising with M. A. Miller since 1918, so she told The Leader yesterday. Now she has come to Regina to open a law office of her own in the Westman Chambers, the first woman lawyer in Saskatchewan to take such an adventurous step. Several other women lawyers are practising in the province, but no other one has had the temerity to open an office of her own. [*]

In May 1935, Burgess was appointed Juvenile Court Judge.

 

* According to the Law Society’s record, Mary Cathcart was the first woman admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Cathcart was admitted on April 18, 1917, practised with Chisholm & Company and left Saskatchewan after one year.