The Justicia Project was developed by the Law Society of Ontario in 2008 as a partnership between the law society and law firms to work collaboratively to share best practices, develop resources and adopt proactive programs to support the retention and advancement of female lawyers in private practice. The project was driven by recognition that, while women are entering the legal profession and private practice in record numbers, the statistics across the country show that they also leave private practice in disproportionate numbers. Saskatchewan’s demographics are not unlike those of the rest of Canada. Although a recent study conducted at the University of Saskatchewan revealed that 49% of law students are women, only 37% of the active lawyers in Saskatchewan are women. Further, of those women, only 53% are in private practice, as compared to 71% of male lawyers.
The ultimate goal of the Justicia Project is to create better work arrangements for both lawyers and firms. Having clear guidelines on these important topics facilitates openness and creates more certainty and predictability, which should, in turn, foster long-term working relationships. Implementing the resources developed through the Justicia Project can help firms to develop proactive programs respecting career development which can help them to both recruit and retain lawyers. While the Justicia Project was started as an initiative focussing on retaining and supporting women in private practice, the Saskatchewan participants felt that the topics they were focussing on could apply to men as well.
The Saskatchewan Justicia Project was introduced in November of 2014. The Law Society asked for volunteers from large firms in Regina and Saskatoon to participate in working groups that would develop guidelines and/or model policies on topics of their choosing.
Four working groups were established, focusing on the following topics: family leave, flexible working arrangements, mentorship/work environment and data collection. The data collection working group conducted two surveys of the membership, which served as a guide for the other working groups and for continuing work of the Law Society. The remaining working groups developed guidelines and model policies for use by the profession.
All Saskatchewan firms and other legal workplaces are encouraged to review the guidelines and model policies on the Law Society website and consider implementing parts or all of them. Firms that commit to either implement the materials developed by the Saskatchewan Justicia Project or review their existing policies to ensure that they are substantially similar to the model policies developed by the Saskatchewan Justicia Project will be permitted to identify themselves as Justicia firms. If you are interested in signing your firm up as a Justicia firm, please complete the commitment letter and return it to Barbra Bailey at the Law Society by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Law Society would like to acknowledge and thank the Law Societies of Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, as well as the Nova Scotia Barristers Society for their support and advice in launching the Saskatchewan Justicia Project and the use of their materials which have served as excellent guides for the work of the Saskatchewan Justicia Project. Special thanks to the Law Society of Ontario, which launched the original Justicia Project, and has been very generous in offering guidance throughout the life of the Saskatchewan Justicia Project.
[Logo: Justicia Logo - ® Registered trademark of The Law Society of Upper Canada used under licence by The Law Society of Saskatchewan/Marque de commerce du Barreau du Haut-Canada utilisée sous licence par The Law Society of Saskatchewan.]