Interview with CBASK President Jana Linner

  • November 24, 2022

Jana Linner, CBA Saskatchewan President

New CBA Saskatchewan (CBASK) President, Jana Linner, discusses her priorities, judicial independence and advocating for the increased representation of women in the legal profession.

Why did you want to become President of CBASK?

I have been fortunate throughout my life to have many mentors who have instilled a desire to be part of the community that surrounds you – the legal profession is no different. Fortunately, when I began my legal career, individuals like the Honourable Justice Robertson encouraged me to be active with the Canadian Bar Association. Now, years later, I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in and to advocate on behalf of the lawyers, judges and others who make up our membership. This is particularly so as I continue my efforts to advocate for the increased representation of women in the legal profession. If I can play a small role in the development and forward progress of Saskatchewan’s legal profession, I will consider my presidency a success.

In addition to the increased representation of women throughout the legal profession, what are your other priorities for your year as President?

The war on judicial independence within Saskatchewan and beyond has never been greater. In my opinion, the increased cynicism, disengagement in the basic tenants of our democracy and the rise of the “armchair warrior” come from, among other things, a lack of awareness and education in how our legal system operates. Society must be able to turn to judges –independent third parties – and trust that their differences will be resolved fairly and in accordance with the law. Judges must also be able to make those decisions without repercussions. It is a priority for me to educate and remind individuals that when we disagree with a judge’s decision, the recourse is not to attack them or ask for their removal from the judiciary – it is to appeal those decisions. During my time as President, CBASK will continue to be an advocate for judicial independence and the protection of the rule of law; however, CBASK cannot do it alone. We need each of our members to stand up and defend judicial independent in their day-to-day work and to raise issues with us that may warrant intervention by our Branch.

What do you see as some of the challenges facing the legal profession in SK?

The health and wellness of our members is a significant challenge facing the legal profession in Saskatchewan. The Canadian Bar Association, in conjunction with a number of partners, recently issued a national study of the legal professional which focused on the health and well-being of individuals in the legal profession. The study paints an alarming picture of the wellness of Canadian legal professionals including high levels of psychological distress, anxiety and burnout. Those impacts were found to be even higher in disadvantaged groups such as women, minority groups, those who identify as living with a disability and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, among others.

While this data allows us to understand the issues that we are facing, the CBASK is working hard with other stakeholders and its members to identify real concrete solutions and ways to address the mental health crisis in our legal profession. While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, we intend to work hard and to advocate for the appropriate resources to alleviate the difficulties our members are facing.

Retaining young lawyers has become an issue for law firms – what do you hear from your colleagues?

There is so much talent in these younger generations of lawyers. It is important for law firms as well as other legal organizations to work hard to retain that talent. While there are many ways that this can be done, I consistently hear how important mentorship is to our younger lawyers. In the national wellness study released by the CBA, it became clear that our younger lawyers are struggling with mental health. What we know is that through an effective mentorship relationship, lawyers can work together to build relationships of mutual trust and respect, to assist in the development of lawyers and to assist in alleviating the mental health challenges these lawyers face.

The 2023 Mid-Winter Meeting is returning to an in-person event – why do you think members will appreciate this move?

I am thrilled that the Mid-Winter Meeting will be held in-person on January 26 and 27 in Saskatoon. The Mid-Winter Meeting is the preeminent legal education conference in Saskatchewan that brings together lawyers from all over the province. The pandemic affected our profession in many ways including limiting our ability to connect with our colleagues across the bar. We have consistently heard from our members that they are craving opportunities to re-engage with one another and that it is much more effective to do so in-person as compared to virtually. I am a firm believer that the collegiality that is built at the Mid-Winter Meeting makes our profession better and look forward to seeing everyone in person once again.

Any final comment?

I am excited to work hard on behalf of the more than 1,300 lawyers, judges, notaries, law professors and law students that we represent from across the province. In return, I have a simple request of each of our members:

  • Be an advocate.
  • Be a defender of judicial independence.
  • Be a supporter of the CBA.

If you have any comments or questions for Jana Linner, please contact her or the branch at