Cover of Business CaseLaw Society presents business case for retention of women in private practice

An exodus of women from the legal profession and a looming shortage of lawyers has prompted the Law Society to develop a business case for keeping women lawyers in private practice.

In 2008, the Retention of Women in Law Task Force was charged with preparing the business case and presented its final report at the July Benchers meeting this year.

Kathryn Berge, QC, who chaired the task force, reported that “one third of new women lawyers called in 2003 had dropped out of the profession by 2008. This happened during a time when a record number of women entered the profession, yet today women lawyers still represent only 29 per cent of private practice lawyers in the province.”

The business case explains the demographic issues facing the legal profession in BC and explains the business advantages of retaining and advancing women in private practice. However, it does not suggest that women should receive special treatment. It stresses the competitive advantages of creating firms that retain and advance talented lawyers, with a focus on serving clients in effective ways that make business sense and people sense.

“The benefits of retaining women lawyers are significant,” said Berge, who practises in a small firm in Victoria. “Keeping and developing talent increases efficiency, client service, lawyer morale and future recruitment ability. This holds true in both good and bad times. There is also the benefit of a stronger and more sustainable firm culture based on merit, flexibility and diversity.”

The business case has already received considerable attention in the media. Over the next few months, members of the task force will be speaking to law firms, law-related organizations and others to promote the business case and increase awareness of the benefits of retaining women lawyers in private practice.

To download the business case, go to “Publications & Forms/Committee & Task Force Reports” at lawsociety.bc.ca. For more information, email diversity@lsbc.org.