By Law Society of Saskatchewan
Roundtable: Women in the Law is a virtual gathering hosted collaboratively by the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, the Canadian Bar Association – Saskatchewan Branch, CREATE Justice, and the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
This roundtable is offered free of charge by the Law Society of Saskatchewan to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession and is eligible for 2.5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours, which all qualify for Ethics hours. In the CPD database, search for “Roundtable: Women in the Law”.
The equity of women in the law is foundational to advance access to justice, legitimacy, and responsiveness in the administration of justice, yet many (intersectional) barriers have been detailed and remain in relation to entry, advancement, and retention in the profession.
In 2021, active membership in the Law Society of Saskatchewan was self-reported as: 55% male; 39% female; less than 1% non-binary, transgender, or two-spirit; and 6% preferring not to answer. As compared to 2021 census data where women account for 50% of the population, women are significantly under-represented in law. This is despite proportional law school admissions in recent years. In 2021, University of Saskatchewan College of Law admissions data identifies women accounting for 54% of those admitted. Further, as the Canadian Bar Association has highlighted, women do not have pay equity within the profession.
Building on the Saskatchewan Justicia Project which worked collaboratively to share good practices, develop resources, and adopt proactive programs to support retention and advancement of female lawyers in private practice, in 2021, a book project led by CREATE Justice was initiated. The project, “Creating a Seat at the Table: Reflections from Women in Law,” brought together a group of women alumni to reflect on their experiences in law and celebrate success as well as ongoing action towards leadership, mentorship, and networking among women lawyers.
Additionally in 2021, the Law Society undertook research to better understand member perspectives and personal experiences and to focus efforts to advance programs and initiatives that promote a non-discriminatory and inclusive legal profession. Women participated in this survey in higher numbers and identified gender discrimination related to limited opportunities, having children, client preference for male lawyers, and disrespectful treatment. The research also identified intersectionality and how social identities (e.g., race, sexual identity, age) can overlap with gender and create compounding experiences and systemic, cultural, and structural barriers.
To combat these challenges, respondents identified that it was important to offer tools and resources, engage in conversations to inform and understand needs, provide mentorship opportunities, offer training, promote inclusive networking opportunities, and collect demographic data. Many of these initiatives are underway and will benefit from deeper conversation to help advance. Please join this roundtable to:
- network with other legal professionals;
- contribute to discussions about initiatives to advance equity for women in the law; and
- celebrate International Women’s Day with colleagues in the legal profession.
- Book – Creating a Seat at the Table: Reflections from Women in Law (forthcoming)
- Consultation Report – Model Code of Professional Conduct amendments to consider duties related to non-discrimination and harassment (Federation of Law Societies)
- Report – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Identifying the Challenges and Possible Actions (Law Society of Saskatchewan)
- Report – Pay Equity in the Legal Profession (Canadian Bar Association)