Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

February 21, 2008 11:27 ET

Law Society to begin consultations on landmark proposals to enhance advancement of women in private practice

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 21, 2008) - The Law Society of Upper Canada released a landmark report today identifying best practices to promote the retention and advancement of women in the private practice of law.

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.

"More needs to be done to improve the retention of women in private practice," says bencher Laurie Pawlitza, Co-Chair of the Law Society's Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group. "This is a key initiative in improving access to justice for everyone in Ontario. The Law Society has a role in helping to lead the changes that the profession must make to retain women in private practice," she explains.

The establishment of a parental leave program for sole and small firm practitioners, as well as a practice locum service are two of the most forward-looking proposals in the report. A Justicia pilot program -- which would enable the Law Society to work with a group of large- and medium-sized firms to implement pilot programs aimed at improving the retention of women -- is also among the proposals contained in the report.

"The public and the profession as a whole would benefit from the report's proposals. The parental leave and the practice locum programs would provide much-needed support to both male and female sole and small firm practitioners - who are the gateway to the justice system for most individuals," says Law Society bencher Bonnie Warkentin, Co-Chair of the working group that prepared the report.

The consultation with the profession will continue through the spring. Written submissions will be accepted until April 18, 2008. The working group will then return to Convocation with recommendations based on the consultation.

The Working Group on the Retention of Women was formed in 2005 to identify strategies to enhance the retention and advancement of women in private practice.

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