Breaking Through: Carrie Mandel

Carrie Mandel is co-author of Breaking Through: Tales from the Top Canadian Women General CounselInspired by the US book, Courageous Counsel: Conversations with Women General Counsel in the Fortune 500Carrie and co-author Kirby Chown decided to interview women general counsel from Canadian publicly listed companies.

Almost immediately, Carrie and Kirby unearthed some very interesting statistics. When looking into the top 500 publicly listed companies in Canada based on profits, they found that half of the companies do not have general counsel and of those that did, 27% of their GCs were women: “these statistics are much better than those for women on boards and female CEOs,” Carrie remarks.

Carrie and Kirby decided to focus on 32 top Canadian women GCs and interviewed them in areas such as navigating their legal landscape, why they made the transition from private practice to in-house and what lessons others can learn from their experiences. The hard work and research undertaken has garnered very positive responses. “We have been flattered by the level of interest we have received,” Carrie says. “We’ve been asked to speak at 18 events thus far, by law firms, the CCCA, women’s networking groups and other legal associations. In fact, Kirby has retired but she’s the busiest retired person I know!”

Carrie Mandel
Carrie Mandel

Breaking Through not only focuses on leading female GCs but also on male lawyers who have demonstrated a commitment to women’s programs and are active sponsors and mentors to some of the women interviewed: “it’s important to have them as part of the dialogue,” Carrie says. There are also interviews with executive coaches who have worked with some of the interviewees.

After such a comprehensive study, what does the future hold for Carrie? “Kirby and I would like to go back and interview some of the women we couldn’t interview for the first book and also get an update on the careers of those we did speak to. We’re also keen to research up and coming female lawyers. As for me, I’m on the advisory board of a new training program for female GCs in Canada and our first women’s event in conjunction with Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP and Deloitte takes place in early June.”

About the authors of Breaking Through
Carrie Mandel is a lawyer and consultant with Spencer Stuart and part of the North American Legal, Compliance & Regulatory Practice and leads the practice in Canada.

Kirby Chown is the former Ontario Regional Managing Partner of McCarthy Tetrault.

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