Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt, LL.B

(1894-1990)

Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt was one of the first women to attend law school in Manitoba. She was the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Manitoba (in 1916). She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1917, which was also the same year that she helped to found the Portia Club (an organization dedicated to women in the legal profession). Hunt was involved with that organization (and its successor the Women Lawyers’ Association) for many years, including serving as its president.

Hunt was the first woman in Western Canada to establish a law office when she opened her office in Grandview in 1918. She withdrew from practice when she got married but came back to the practice of law after her husband passed away a few years later. In 1928, she joined the City of Winnipeg’s legal team. She served as a solicitor in the department of welfare for 30 years and was an expert in family law.

In 1952, Hunt was the first woman to receive the Queen’s Counsel designation in the province of Manitoba. In 1983, she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her role in improving the status of women in the legal field in Canada.

The Manitoba Bar Association created the Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt Award in 2011 to recognize role models for women lawyers deserving of special recognition.

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