The Justicia Project has been actively underway in British Columbia since 2012. It is a voluntary program, facilitated by the Law Society of British Columbia and undertaken by law firms, to identify and implement model policies and best practices to retain and advance women lawyers in private practice.
The following model policies were approved by the Benchers in December 2014:
- 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
- Respectful Workplace Model Policy (Word | PDF)
Best practice guides
The following guides were endorsed by the Benchers in January 2016:
- 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 (summarizing the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Justicia Project Materials on Developing Women’s Leadership in the Legal Profession, available online at: www.lsuc.on.ca/uploadedFiles/Equity_and_Diversity/Justicia/Leadership_Skills_2013(1).pdf)
- Demographic data collection (March 2015)
The business case for keeping women lawyers in the profession
The Law Society urges firms to consider the Business Case for Retaining and Advancing Women Lawyers in Private Practice. The business case 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 and people sense. The business case contains reference materials and best practices that will be of value to firms of all sizes.
Why is Justicia necessary in BC?
The Law Society regulates lawyers in the public interest, and the public is best served when lawyers reflect the communities they represent. Yet, women make only about a third of practising lawyers in BC. In addition, we are concerned that women are leaving the profession disproportionately. For example, the Law Society tracked new women lawyers and found that, 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 lawyers leave the profession?
The choice to leave is an individual one, but we hear again and again about certain common factors. Those include a lack of mentorship and the need for greater flexibility and control over work-life balance.
Why does it matter that women lawyers leave the profession?
Lawyers need to be able to see all sides of an issue, and a diverse organization can be more creative in its approach to problem-solving if multiple perspectives are brought to bear. The Law Society believes the public is best served by a more inclusive profession. In addition, demographic trends indicate that in the not-too-distant-future there will be a shortage of lawyers. The profession is aging and there are fewer new lawyers. We need to retain lawyers to serve the public's legal needs.
For more information, contact Staff Lawyer Andrea Hilland.
Timeline: Milestones for BC women in the law (Benchers' Bulletin, 2011 No.3 Fall)