Justicia launched in BC as firms invited to sign on

The Justicia Project was officially launched in BC on November 20, 2012 with a meeting of law firm managing partners to introduce the first phase of the project.

Developed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Justicia Project is a voluntary program for law firms to identify and implement best practices to retain and ­advance women lawyers in private practice. It was created in response to evidence that women leave the profession at a higher rate than men in the first 10 years of practice.

Encouraged by the success of the Justicia Project in Ontario, the Law Society of BC, on the recommendation of the Retention of Women in Law Task Force, launched its own two-phase program.

Phase one is directed at national law firms with offices in BC that are already participants in Justicia in Ontario and ­Alberta, as well as large regional firms that may be interested in the project. Phase two will be directed at all other BC firms.

Shayne Strukoff, managing partner at Gowlings, and Helena Plecko, associate at Gowlings, volunteered to drive the initiative on behalf of the Law Society. The project is further supported by the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee, as well as members of the Justicia working group, McCarthy Tétrault’s Lisa Vogt and Blakes’ Bill Maclagan, who is also a Bencher.

Participating law firms will commit to achieving goals in four areas:

  • Tracking gender demographics
  • Reviewing/introducing flexible work arrangements and parental leave policies
  • Adopting initiatives to foster women’s networking and business development
  • Promoting leadership skills for women

“Our aim is to bring firms together to share strategies and best practices,” said Bruce LeRose, QC, president of the Law Society. “Based on its success in Ontario, Justicia will help advance the Law Society’s strategic goal of supporting the retention of women lawyers.”

“We encourage law firms of all sizes to lend their support to this important project,” said Helena Plecko, associate at Gowlings. “We hope it will pave the way for systemic change in the legal profession that will address the realities women in private practice are facing.”

Lawyers or law firms with questions about Justicia or how to participate should contact Michael Lucas, Manager, Policy & Legal Services at the Law Society of BC at MLucas@lsbc.org.