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Woman of the Week: Susan Abramovitch

How exactly do you conquer the entertainment world of Toronto?

Susan Abramovitch, Head of Entertainment Law at Gowling WLG, knows exactly how to dominate as one of the top entertainment lawyers in Canada’s largest city. Abramovitch handles clients nationwide such as Jann Arden, The Cowboy Junkies, Finger 11, Kevin O’Leary, MsterKrft, Six Shooter Records, Larry Wanagas, and even dabbled in film work recently helping out with a documentary for the International Fund for Animal Welfare on the seal hunt in Canada.

Abramovitch always knew she wanted to be an entertainment lawyer, but had to jump through hoops to get there. “I was with 26 of the smartest law students from across Canada at the Supreme Court. I had a good resume and good marks, but that was not the way the entertainment world worked. I was initially rejected,” Abramovitch says. “I had a plan B. I qualified at the Quebec bar and clerk ed at the Supreme Court of Canada.”

Abramovitch clerked for the Honourable Mr. Justice Gerard V. La Forest, and met her eventual husband and father of her two children while at the Supreme Court. After this experience, Abramovitch tried again to get into entertainment law without success. “ I didn’t realize the value of networking, I thought it was about statistics, resumes. I got another round of rejections, so I decided to live in Paris. I eventually became disillusioned by the corporate law life,” Abramovitch says. “Michael, my boyfriend of the time was teaching law at King’s College in London UK so we decided let’s move to Toronto. That is when the entertainment law doors started opening for me. I am assuming it is because I had a few years of corporate law experience under my belt.”

In 1997, Abramovitch paired up with President of Music Canada, Graham Henderson, and Executive Producer of Degrassi, Stephen Stohn, and opened Stohn, Henderson, a boutique entertainment law firm in Toronto. “We were at King and Dufferin in the Toronto Carpet Factory, built it into a law office and it became an entertainment law boutique. I later inherited the practice and became the managing partner,” Abramovitch says. “In 2001, I got pregnant with my daughter and born in July 2002. I was managing the firm and I had to deal with everything. It was becoming too much particularly because I was pregnant.” Abramovitch dissolved the firm and now runs the entertainment law department at major law firm Gowling WLG, which she feels is a perfect fit for her.

Abramovitch is passionate about educating future entertainment lawyers and helping young women and men to become successful in law. “The most important thing is the relationship. It is about nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients,” Abramovitch says. She is the program director for Osgoode Hall Law School’s Continuing Legal Education Certificate in Entertainment Law and is a former lecturer in entertainment law at McGill University’s faculty of Law. She is also a member of the board of governors of the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

Abramovitch won the 2014 Lexpert Zenith award, a prestigious award given to Canadian lawyers. Abramovitch is proud to be recognized as a top woman lawyer in Canada, but also believes in helping everyone grow in their career. “I don’t view myself as helping women vs. men. When anyone is interested in entertainment law, I always sit down and talk about my experience,” Abramovitch says. “If women want to talk about frustrations about being a woman lawyer, I don’t believe in being victimized. I believe in productivity and that is how I help people.”

When Abramovitch isn’t working, she loves to cook, eat healthy food, work out, and go to her cottage. She has two kids and is looking forward to celebrating her son’s Bar Mitzvah in June. Abramovitch is also on good terms with now ex-husband Michael Bryant and even negotiated his book contract after the divorce for his book 28 Seconds: A True Story of Addiction, Tragedy, and Hope.

Abramovitch sets the bar on how to succeed in entertainment law. Her teachings on the importance of networking and building relationships are irreplaceable and her valuable experience and tenacity makes her one of the top lawyer in Canada.

 

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What is the legality of President Trump’s immigration ban?

The past eleven days in the United States has been nothing short of shocking, with several executive orders reeking of racism, xenophobia and megalomania passed by newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump that have turned many people’s lives upside down.

Trump’s executive order to ban immigration has suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, and blocked entry of people from seven countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for 90 days. The decision has rocked the globe and has resulted in complete chaos on the U.S borders since the order was signed on Jan. 27.

The legality of the decision to ban citizens from Muslim-majority countries has been widely questioned by legal officials in the United States, and it appears that the order contravenes at least two constitutional amendments and may also be violating international human rights laws. On Saturday night, federal judge Ann Donnelly from Brooklyn blocked the order from sending people back to their home countries in the airport by claiming that it infringed upon Due Process and Equal Protection under the United States Constitution.

Protection for Refugees under the constitution

Due Process is covered under the fifth and fourteenth amendment and prevents against denying people entry who have valid visas. Equal protection should protect refugees from being sent back to unsafe conditions that threaten their safety and livelihood. Similar rulings were issued in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington. The Department of Homeland Security agreed to comply with rulings, but didn’t release detainees or comply with the ruling right away.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York is leading one of the biggest lawsuits on the issue and is claiming that the Establishment Clause in the constitution indicates that one religious denomination cannot be preferred over another. Though Trump’s order does not officially target Muslims, it does establish that it would help citizens of ‘minority religions’ in the seven listed countries, all of which have a Muslim majority. This indicates that the order attacks the Muslim majority, and thus violates the Establishment Clause.

After the executive order was granted, US Attorney General Sally Yates questioned the legality of the immigration ban and refused to direct staff in the justice department to execute the order. She was subsequently fired on Monday.

International Human Rights Laws

The ban may even contravene international human rights law as pointed out by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. The refugee convention, which is a United Nations treaty signed by the U.S., also prohibits discrimination against refugees on the basis of religion. Though the President of the United States is able to suspend entry to ‘any class of aliens’, a 1965 revision of law also indicates that people cannot be discriminated against based on their race, sex, nationality, place of birth or residence.

The best chance of success to repeal the immigration ban is for the Supreme Court to define the executive order as unconstitutional. This stands a good chance of being granted due to several counts of unconstitutionality that have been brought up by legal agencies across the country. The decision really comes down to the power of the law as distinctly separate from politics and if judicial branch is capable of being a supposedly impartial legal system. This is arguably the only chance the United States has to protect itself from megalomaniacs like President Trump.

The fate of many lives is at stake and one can only hope that the law is, indeed, just.