For Women in Law By Women in Law

We founded Life in Law to provide a safe platform for women lawyers to raise difficult issues in a confidential environment. We offer open, honest, respectful, non-judgmental communication.

While not trained counsellors, all our advisors are lawyers and peers who bring to every conversation the warmth of authentic connection and understanding of the emotional and practical issues unique to women in the legal profession who face many competing priorities in career and life.

Our objective in establishing this service was to provide a solution that goes beyond traditional approaches to help lower the attrition rate of women lawyers.

The following data is based on the Mapping Her Path Data Collection and Analysis Report 2016, prepared by The Justice Education Society of BC.

37%

of lawyers in BC are women, even though women make up more than 50% of law school graduates.

71%

of women lawyers who quit their jobs cite work-life balance as the reason and 61% describe the work environment as a contributing factor to their decisions.

66%

of women called to the Bar in 2003 were still practicing in 2008 compared to 80% of men.

29%

of the women lawyers who have left practice, quit their law careers entirely.

There are a diverse set of issues that women lawyers face that contribute to the high attrition rates. Of particular concern, is the mass exodus of female lawyers from legal practice at the five-year mark, which is an inherently challenging time for female lawyers. Surveys indicate that it is at this juncture that women feel that they need to make a choice between partnership and parenthood.

We asked ourselves, “what can be done to help lower the attrition rate of all women lawyers and particularly young women lawyers during the high-risk time-frame?”

Strong mentorship has been repeatedly cited as a strategy that has most helped women stay in practice. Mentoring in the legal profession is not new. For women lawyers, mentors play a particularly significant role and can be an invaluable source of guidance on everything from practice development to work/life balance strategies. Many larger law firms now offer in-house mentoring programs and there are also a range of high-quality programs offered through various entities.

The challenge is that formal mentor programs require significant time commitment on the part of both the mentor and mentee. Also, as mentors are often asked to discuss and decide on career changes the necessary level of confidentiality can be difficult to find within a firm or a small community.

We began to brainstorm about what resources could be provided to women outside of formal mentoring programs. We latched onto the concept of a program that would be accessible and provide a confidential forum for women to talk to each other and share their experiences - what they have in common, what they struggle with, or need advice about.

Life in Law is a free and confidential support forum for women in law by women in law. Life in Law is a firm-wide Harper Grey initiative conceived by Kim Jakeman and Una Radoja. The advisor pool is made up of senior female lawyers who are skilled, experienced, and caring. Together they have created this valuable resource. Listen as Kim and Una discuss their passion for this project and plans to build on the concept.

Now that you know about us and what we have to offer, it’s important to outline the limitations of Life in Law in terms of how we can help.

Not a mentoring program.

Not designed to give substantive legal advice.

Not equipped to provide medical assistance for mental health and/or other health related issues.

Not a networking avenue.

Please visit our Other Resources page if you require further support.

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