The Law Society of Upper Canada, the body that regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario, has introduced an initiative called "The Justicia Project" designed to support the retention and advancement of women lawyers in private practice. The initiative is the first of its kind in Canada and is a 3 year pilot project involving a group of law firms who have committed to sharing best practices and adopting programs to support women lawyers within their firms. The participants in the project have pledged to recognize the value of women lawyers in their firms and the importance of "balance, flexibility, mentorship, leadership and strong business management practices and skills".
More than half of lawyers called to the bar in Ontario are women. As a result, the law firms see the project as a practical way to structure their environments to attract and retain the best law students and lawyers.
More than 50 medium and large law firms have pledged to support The Justicia Project (including my firm Fogler, Rubinoff LLP). Each firm has committed to participate in the project for 3 years, from 2009 to 2011. All participants have signed written commitments to achieve goals in the following core areas:
- maternity and parental leave policies and flexible work arrangements;
- networking and business development;
- mentoring and leadership skills development for women; and
- monitoring progress.
More information is available about The Justicia Project and other initiatives to retain and advance women in private practice on the Law Society's website.