Retention of Women

Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group

Women have been entering private practice in record numbers for over two decades. However, they have also been leaving in great numbers, largely because private practice has not adapted to their realities, such as childbirth and taking on a significant portion of family responsibilities.

The Law Society's Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group has prepared a landmark report identifying best practices to promote the retention and advancement of women in the private practice of law. On May 22, 2008 Convocation voted in support of the working group's nine recommendations to enhance the retention and advancement of women in private practice.

The recommendations include the establishment of a parental leave program for sole and small firm practitioners, as well as a practice locum service, which are two of the most forward-looking proposals in the report. A recommendation to create the Justicia Project, an initiative in which the Law Society would work with a group of large and medium-sized firms across the province committed to implementing programs aimed at improving the retention of women was also adopted.

The Working Group's report includes the results of its final province-wide consultation with the profession.

The province-wide consultation was held between March and May 2008. During that period, the Law Society held meetings across the province -- meeting with lawyers from small, medium and large firms, as well as managing partners, law students and presidents from legal associations in Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Oakville, Kingston, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Orillia, Ajax and London. Approximately 900 lawyers and students attended these meetings and the Law Society received more than 55 written submissions from individuals and a variety of organizations.

The Law Society created the Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group in 2005 to identify solutions and develop practical tools and best practices to enhance the retention and advancement of women in private practice.

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