Why is support for women lawyers needed in BC?

The public is best served when lawyers reflect the communities they represent. Women have been participating in the legal profession in BC in numbers equal to or greater than men for more than a decade. Yet women represent only about 34 per cent of all practising lawyers in the province and only about 29 per cent of lawyers in full-time private practice.

The Law Society is also concerned that women are leaving the profession disproportionately. Of all women lawyers called to the bar in 2003, only 66 per cent retained practising status in 2008, compared to 80 per cent of men called in the same year.

Why do women leave the profession? Why does it matter?

The choice to leave is an individual one, but there are certain common factors, such as a lack of mentorship and the need for greater flexibility and control over work-life balance. Lawyers need to be able to see all sides of an issue, from multiple perspectives. A organization can be more effective if it reflects the diversity of the communities it serves.

The Law Society urges firms to consider the business case, which highlights the competitive advantages of retaining and advancing women in law firms.

Business Case for Retaining and Advancing Women Lawyers in Private Practice

Justicia in BC

Justicia is a voluntary program for law firms and provides model policies and best practices to retain and advance women lawyers in private practice. The Justicia in BC project has been actively underway since 2012.

Justicia has developed the following model policies and best practice guides for lawyers:

Model policies

Flexible work arrangements Word PDF
Parental leave model policy for associates            Word PDF
Parental leave model policy for partners Word PDF
Parental leave frequently asked questions   PDF
Respectful workplace model policy Word PDF

Best practice guides

Career Advancement into Partnership: Associate Guide
November 2015

PDF

A Guide to Business Development for Women Lawyers
June 2015

PDF

Executive Summary of Women’s Leadership in the Legal Profession
Summary of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Justicia Project Materials on Developing Women’s Leadership in the Legal Profession, available online

PDF

Demographic data collection
March 2015

PDF