Meet our Board of Directors: The Honourable Justice Julie Dutil
Committed to promoting sound administration of justice since 1974, CIAJ prides itself on supporting the legal community at all levels. CIAJ would like to warmly thank its board members for sharing their skills and working to improve the justice system with heart and wisdom for the benefit of society as a whole. CIAJ’s actions and programs would not be possible without the dedication of these outstanding professionals.
What does CIAJ mean to you?
The CIAJ is an important organization that promotes excellence by offering trainings in various domains of law. What is very interesting is that CIAJ’s members come from different fields from the justice system, such as judges, lawyers, professors and students. It creates very interesting and constructive exchanges.
I have been a board member since 2018, but I have been involved in CIAJ’s activities for many years. It’s not easy to pick one particular important event, as there are many. However, one of those was certainly the conference organized in 2018 by CIAJ to mark the 20th anniversary of judicial mediation. It was held at the Ernest-Cormier Building in Montreal, where the Court of Appeal sits. I was one of the speakers among others. We had a look at mediation across the country, in different jurisdictions. In addition, several international speakers allowed us to take a “global look at the mediation of the future”. It is in Quebec that this model of mediation was born, and it has had an influence elsewhere in the world. European and African judges attended the conference. , CIAJ has an international reach and is on the lookout for developments in the legal world. The organization will continue to develop an international network over the next few years in order to make its extensive training expertise better known.
Why is it important for you to be active and involved outside your job?
I have always been involved in my community at different steps of my life and career. I like to be in the middle of the action! In addition, I find it very important, not only to improve my legal knowledge, but also to meet other judges, lawyers and academics. The law is constantly evolving and we need to keep up with new developments. Conferences and seminars are very helpful in this regard. Furthermore, the work of a judge can sometimes be quite lonely. Participating in conferences and seminars, or being a member of associations, allows us to socialize with colleagues while expanding our knowledge.
What do you like the most about your job?
I have always loved the judicial world. From a young age, I was fascinated by the trials I was seeing in the movies. Today, I have the privilege of being a judge. At the Court of Appeal, three of us sit on a panel to hear appeals. It’s really interesting to listen to the lawyers present their case and then discuss it with the other two colleagues of the panel. It’s great to be able to discuss issues that are often difficult. When the hearing is over, the next step is to write a decision and find the best solution to the problem at hand. This is another aspect of my job that I really enjoy.
Is there a cause you feel strongly about?
I believe that every effort must be made to protect the Society. We are extremely fortunate in Canada to live in a democratic society with strong institutions. The tribunals and courts are the foundation of that democracy. Without the rule of law and independent courts and tribunals, there is no democracy and no freedom.
Do you think that justice evolves with society?
Justice change with the society, but courts’ decisions can also move society. For example, in 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the “Persons case”, decided that women were not persons under the British North America Act. Fortunately, at that time, there was an appeal to the Privy Council in London. The English Lords overturned this decision and found that women were persons! (Edwards v. A.G. of Canada  A.C., 1929 U.K.P.C.86.)
Are you active on social media?
I am present on social media, but in a very discreet way and different from most people. As a judge, I think it is necessary to stay with the times in order to understand what is going on in society. Judges have always had a duty of reservation and must avoid intervening in societal debates, as they are called upon to decide disputes that may arise. Nevertheless, this does not forbid a judge from following what is going on in society and, nowadays, social networks have become an essential means of communication as well as a place for exchanges. For my part, I never make comments on social media, I have a limited number of friends and my security settings are strict. However, I can follow what’s going on and understand better the world we live in.
Do you have a reference/influence/model in this field? Why?
One of the legal personalities I most admire is the former Chief Justice of Canada, the Honourable Beverly McLachlin. Not only is she a remarkable jurist, but she has remained authentic and passionate about justice throughout her long career. She also led the Supreme Court with great skill and class.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced along the way?
Like many women, it was the work-life balance. My daughter was born while I was practising law for 10 years and litigating throughout Quebec, several times a week. My husband, on his part, travelled internationally on a regular basis for his work. However, I was fortunate to have a responsible young woman who stayed at home and cared for my daughter for the first few years. When I was appointed as a judge, my daughter was 5 ½ years old. My schedules became more predictable and allowed me to plan better. The Associate Chief Judge at the time offered to arrange my schedule and travel to facilitate this balance. This was greatly appreciated!
When you chose to study law, were you thinking of pursuing a career as a judge?
I never thought that one day I would be a judge. I wanted to be a lawyer and plead. I thought that the work of a judge did not look very interesting… My father would occasionally talk to me about it, but I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it until one of my associates was appointed to the judiciary and she encouraged me to follow her. I have never regretted doing so.
What else would you have liked to do if you had not become a judge?
I would always be a lawyer. I can’t think of any other field that I would have been as passionate about, except maybe an international career.
What do you do in your free time, do you have a hobby?
I love walking and hiking in the forest.
Is there a message you would like to pass on to the new generation of jurists/judges? If you could talk to yourself when you were 20 years old what would you say?
You have to follow your dream, even if the road sometimes seems to be full of pitfalls. When you do what you love, you succeed!
About The Honourable Justice Julie Dutil
CIAJ Board of Directors First Vice-President
Judge of the Court of Appeal of Quebec
The Honourable Julie Dutil is justice at the Court of Appeal of Quebec. Called to the Quebec Bar in 1980, she practiced law at Grondin Poudrier Bernier, where she specialized in labour law. She was a member of several committees of the Quebec Bar. In May of 1995, she was appointed a part-time member of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP. Justice Dutil was appointed a judge of the Quebec Superior Court on November 8, 1996 and appointed to the Court of Appeal on September 24, 2004. She has served as the Coordinating Judge of the Quebec Division of the Court of Appeal. Justice Dutil is the president of the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association (CSCJA). She served as a board member of CSCJA beginning and has been a member of the Board of Directors. The CSCJA appointed her as a permanent delegate to the International Association of Judges where she is President of the Study Commission on Public and Social Law and First Vice-President of the regional group ANAO. She previously served as president of the Conference of Quebec Superior Court Judges, of which she has been a board member. In addition, she acted as a board member for the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges. She also collaborates with the administration of the Law Faculty at Université Laval, where she sits on the board of the Faculty’s Fonds d’enseignement et de recherche. She has been a speaker at universities and other organizations in Canada, France, Malta, Senegal, Australia, and Brazil. The Honourable Justice Julie Dutil has been a CIAJ Board member since 2018 and is the current First Vice-President.