Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

April 14, 2009 09:54 ET

Law Society's "Parental Leave Assistance Program" Aids Public and Lawyers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 14, 2009) - The Law Society has launched a three-year pilot parental leave program to enable more lawyers to stay in practice after the birth or adoption of a child. The program was developed in recognition of the fact that many lawyers in small or sole firms have little or no access to parental leave benefits, making it difficult to start a family while providing clients with legal services.

Effective March 12, 2009, the Parental Leave Assistance Program provides financial benefits to practising lawyers in firms of five lawyers or fewer who do not have access to other maternity, parental, or adoption financial benefits under public or private plans and who meet the eligibility criteria. Anyone who is eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) is not eligible for the Law Society's parental leave benefit.

"Providing economic security on a temporary basis can help ensure reintegration of lawyers into their practices, as well as the continuing viability of those practices," says Laurie Pawlitza, Co-Chair of the Law Society's Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group. "The payments received are intended to be business income replacement that will help defray some of the costs and overheads of maintaining an office during a birth or adoption leave."

The Law Society is also establishing a registry of lawyers who are available to step in and provide legal services on an interim basis during a parental leave.

"The combined effect of both initiatives will enhance public access to a diverse pool of lawyers in sole and small practices," says Thomas Conway, Co-Chair of the Law Society's Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group. "More than 90 per cent of law firms in Ontario have five or fewer lawyers, and sole and small firms are the face of the legal profession for most individuals requiring legal service."

The parental leave program and the practice locum registry are funded completely through the annual fees lawyers pay to the Law Society. "This is a reflection of the importance the legal profession as a whole places on access to justice in all parts of the province," says W.A. Derry Millar, Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The Law Society approved the three-year pilot Parental Leave Assistance Program and the practice locum registry in May 2008, for implementation in 2009. Details of the Parental Leave Assistance Program are available on the Law Society's website, under the Parental Leave Assistance Program

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

Contact Information

  • Law Society of Upper Canada
    Roy Thomas
    Communications Director
    Law Society of Upper Canada
    Lisa Hall
    Communications Manager