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Local Leaders in Family Law: On Advocacy, Relationships, and Courage 

Challenges and barriers still persist for women in the legal profession, including gender bias, stereotypes and caregiving issues, to name a few. But fighting intractable battles is precisely what Laurel Hogg and Jessica Spelliscy do. The two women leading the family law practice at Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP have achieved success by meeting challenges head on.

“It’s a philosophy as much as it’s our approach to advocacy: to persevere for an ultimate goal,” says Laurel. “We keep the end in sight when our clients are otherwise too mired in conflict to see the way through.”

“The average person’s understanding of family law is limited to divorce and separation,” Jessica adds. But Laurel and Jessica assist clients from the beginning of their relationship until the end—and then some: cohabitation and marriage agreements; dividing property and parenting arrangements.

“Succeeding in family law is all about problem solving to create the best possible outcome. We enjoy courtroom advocacy, but we solve problems to avoid court too,” says Jessica.

Family law is all about relationships: building and recomposing the family unit. “We both enjoy working with people on a personal level,” says Jessica, who pulls on deep roots in the community to understand her clients.

Jessica grew up in Kelowna before leaving for university in Ontario. After attending law school in Wales, Jessica returned to Kelowna, where she soon joined the family practice at Rush. She worked closely for nearly a decade with Briana Hardwick, who was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2022. “I’ve always seen a connection between the relationships I’m helping to build or rebuild and the community I live and work in,” says Jessica, who balances her practice with being a mother to two sons, aged two and six, and a bonus-mother to a 21-year-old step-son.

While Laurel also grew up in the BC Interior, she came to family law differently. After finishing law school in Ottawa, she began her career with a leading litigation boutique and later a national law firm in Toronto. She returned to BC when she joined Rush in January 2021.

“I was a commercial and intellectual property litigator from Toronto when I arrived at the firm—an unexpected beginning for a family lawyer,” Laurel says. But soon after her arrival, her business background made her a valuable asset on family files with corporate elements. “Before I knew it, that was my main focus. The firm has always taken on the challenging family files in the community—complex corporate arrangements, high-net worth parties—so I fit right in.”

Laurel and Jessica are the next generation at the firm, but they find courage in the foundation they have been building on. “The firm’s reputation is excellent,” says Jessica. “And it is earned. We are fortunate to continue in the footsteps and among the ranks of the excellent advocates who started the firm and those who are still here,” adds Laurel.

And what about those persisting barriers in the field of law? Jessica and Laurel are future-facing: “We are looking forward to being part of the change as partners of the firm,” says Jessica. “It’s an opportunity to encourage the practice to continue to shift in the right direction. “I embrace change and have learned to not be afraid of being uncomfortable,” says Laurel.

That takes courage. It is a common thread between the two women, and one they weave through their work for their clients.

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