Bringing Justicia to BC

Law Society approves development of program to support women lawyers

The Law Society has approved a plan for 2012 to bring a program to BC aimed at retaining and advancing women lawyers. The program is called Justicia, which means justice in Latin.

The Justicia Project was launched by the Law Society of Upper Canada at the end of 2008 and was the first of its kind in the country. The Ontario project has brought together more than 50 firms committed to sharing best practices, developing resources and adopting programs to support women lawyers.

BC has completed a feasibility assessment investigating whether the program would be possible here. The assessment flowed from a recommendation in the Law Society’s 2009 Report of the Retention of Women in Law Task Force.

“What we discovered during the ­feasibility study is that there is an appetite on the part of firms to do their part at keeping and advancing women lawyers,” said Susanna Tam, a Law Society policy lawyer who works with the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee. “The law firms we spoke with see that it’s good for women lawyers, good for the profession and good for business. And they were open to working with us to make a difference.”

The Law Society will implement a ­consultation and engagement plan in 2012. The first phase of the plan will focus on BC offices of national firms that are ­participating in Justicia in Ontario. The second phase will aim at engaging regional firms in BC.

“What we can’t and shouldn’t do,” said Law Society President Gavin Hume, QC, “is control whether, how and when firms implement Justicia policies and initiatives. Our role as the regulator is to bring firms together to share strategies and best practices. Essentially, we will be facilitating a strategic process.”

“I’m extremely pleased that our feasibility assessment showed support for taking these important steps and, while there is no quick fix, I’m hopeful that it will ultimately advance the Law Society’s strategic goal of supporting the retention of women lawyers,” said Hume.

The expected outcome for 2012 is to have a number of firms collectively consider initiatives aimed at retaining and advancing women in private practice. Lawyers or law firms with questions about Justicia or how to participate should contact Susanna Tam at stam@lsbc.org

 
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