TORONTO, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - More than 40 law firms across Ontario have
pledged their support to the Law Society's new precedent-setting think tank
designed to retain and advance women lawyers in private practice.
Called the "Justicia Think Tank", the three-year pilot project is the
first of its kind in Canada, and is one of nine recommendations identified by
the Law Society's Working Group on the Retention of Women in Private Practice.
The Justicia Project will include representatives from medium- and
large-sized firms committed to identifying and adopting principles and best
practices that promote the retention and advancement of women in the private
practice of law.
"The level of commitment to the Justicia Think Tank is gratifying and
bodes extremely well for the future of this ground-breaking initiative," says
Law Society Treasurer W.A. Derry Millar. "We are pleased that law firms of all
sizes have shown their support in addressing the realities that women in
private practice face today. We hope that this initiative will lead the way
for innovative, systemic change in the legal profession, so that we will
better understand and reflect the diversity of the public we serve."
Each participating law firm has committed to participate in the project
for three years, from 2009 to 2011. Three working groups are being
established, comprising: regional firms of six to 25 lawyers; firms of 25 to
100 lawyers; and firms of more than 100 lawyers.
All participating law firms have signed written commitments to achieve
ambitious goals in four core areas:
- Tracking demographics - Participants will work together to develop a
system of maintaining statistical data on the gender within their
- Flexible work arrangements - Law firms agree to review their existing
written policies on maternity, paternal and adoption leave and
flexible work arrangements, and aim to have written policies or
templates in place by the end of 2011.
- Networking and business development - Participating firms will share
information about any business development and networking
opportunities they have that are specifically tailored for women.
- Mentoring and leadership skills development for women - The Law
Society and participating law firms will work together in 2011 to
develop and implement various models of mentoring and leadership
skills development that reflect what women need and want - and develop
strategies to enhance women's participation in the leadership of the
"The Justicia Project is a remarkable partnership designed to create a
shift in our legal culture to ensure women lawyers have practices in which to
thrive and lead," says Law Society bencher Laurie Pawlitza, Co-Chair of the
Law Society's Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group.
Newly appointed Co-Chair of the Working Group Thomas Conway also points
out, "From a business perspective, law firms' ability to compete for clients
and the best talent is critical. Clients today expect law firms not only to be
committed to equality, but also to actively promote diversity in the
A complete list of Justicia participating firms is available on the Law
Society's website under the "Latest News" section. The consultation findings
and the report of the working group, including other initiatives, are
The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegal in Ontario in the public
interest. The Law Society has a duty 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
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