2013-2014 – Mtre Isabelle Allard
Mtre Isabelle Allard – Mtre Isabelle Allard was a member of the Debating Competition Committee for five years before joining the Salon VISEZ DROIT Committee, where she served as a member for five years and then chair for six more, functions which caused her to devote countless hours to making the event such a great success. A strong defender of widows and orphans, she is now director of the Maisonneuve-Mercier Legal Aid office.
Born in the village of Saint-Alexis-de-Montcalm in the Joliette region, Isabelle had planned to become a teacher, like her mother and aunts. By chance, she decided also to apply to the Faculty of Law of the Université de Montréal and had to make a difficult choice after being admitted to both programs. It was Jean-Paul Provost, her psychology professor at Collège de l’Assomption who, over a coffee in a heart-to-heart talk, finally convinced her to choose law, pointing out that it offered versatile training that would allow her to switch to teaching if she wanted to.
Isabelle admits that her first three semesters of law were difficult and that she even went so far as to apply to change programs – without ever really following through. That’s a good thing, because her perseverance was rewarded in the third year, when she discovered legal aid, her real vocation. That path was strewn with obstacles, however. When it turned out to be impossible to article there, due to budget shortages, she resigned herself to joining a small firm in Laval. Then, two weeks after arriving, legal aid contacted her to offer her a position. Not willing to give up her dream, Isabelle submitted a request to change her articling position to the Bar and was able to profit from the valuable teachings of an exceptional supervisor, Mtre Clermont Bélanger.
With no legal aid job waiting when her articling was completed in December 1993, Isabelle spent a short period at Carswell, the legal publishers, dreaming of another call from legal aid. Proof that you should never lose faith in your dreams: she soon obtained a replacement contract with the Verdun legal aid office, after presenting her CV personally to CCJM director, Mtre Claude Hargreaves. In the years that followed, Isabelle moved from one to another of the legal aid offices in the Montreal region, falling in love with each of them. She has now been director of the Maisonneuve-Mercier office since August 2010, and this year celebrates 20 years as part of the wider legal aid family, more motivated than ever by direct contact with people and the power to assist people through community involvement, one of the fundamental values transmitted to her by her family. In this context, it was entirely natural for Isabelle to become involved with the Bar of Montréal, first as representative of the YBAM on various committees. This was followed by the Debating Contest Committee, 11 years of participation in the organization of Salon VISEZ DROIT and creation of the Red Cross Committee, which dreamed up a kit designed for lawyers asked to advise disaster victims.
Isabelle Allard draws three conclusions from her involvement with the Bar of Montreal. First, she has seen first-hand the generosity of lawyers who offer their time and knowledge in a spirit of collaboration and collegiality; second, the wonderful encounters she has had over the years; and finally, the exceptional initiatives undertaken by the Barreau of Montreal to promote accessibility to justice, popularize law and enable citizens to know and assert their rights. To all her colleagues who hesitate when given the opportunity to become actively involved with the Bar of Montreal, Isabelle Allard says: dare, dare, dare to do it!