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. In 2008, attrition rates were 34% for women (with 19% non-practising members and 15% ceased members), and 17% for men (with 9% non-practising members and 8% ceased members). Attrition rates were calculated by comparing the number of lawyers who were called to the bar in 2003 against those who were practising, non-practising, or had entirely ceased practice by 2008.

In 2016, the attrition rate was 25.8% for women (with 21.4% non-practising and 4.4% ceased members), and 17.5% for men (with 11.8% non-practising members and 5.7% ceased members).

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

Retrospective analysis (1992-2017)

2017 marked 25 years since the Law Society produced an extensive report regarding gender and the legal profession. Gender Equality in the Justice System documented the difficulties that many women have faced in the practice of law. The report included a number of recommendations, many of which were aimed at the Law Society. The anniversary of the report presents an opportunity to reflect on the Law Society’s efforts to improve gender equality in the legal profession over the past 25 years.

Read Retrospective Analysis of Gender in the Legal Profession in BC (1992-2017).

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 resources 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 resources

Video series on business development – created in collaboration with the Justicia Project,
this free CLEBC video series is intended to help lawyers create a personal brand, learn how
to generate new client business and ensure an ongoing flow of clients for their firms:
visit the Continuing Legal Education website


Career Advancement into Partnership: Associate Guide
November 2015


A Guide to Business Development for Women Lawyers
June 2015


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


Demographic data collection
March 2015