Law Society extends Justicia project

Two-year extension given to the Justicia project, an initiative designed to retain and advance women in private practice

By Ryan Starr

On Thursday October 27th, 2011

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 The Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing body on Thursday approved a two-year extension of the Justicia project, an initiative designed to retain and advance women in the private practice of law.

The project, which launched in 2008, has more than 55 large- and medium-sized Ontario firms taking part. The Law Society works with these firms to identify and adopt principles and best practices that promote the retention and advancement of women.

“The Justicia project is a catalyst for innovative, systemic change in the legal profession,” Law Society treasurer and Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group co-chair Laurie H. Pawlitza said in a news release. “We are very pleased with the success of the project over the past three years and now that it is extended, participating law firms can complete their important, ongoing work.”

Justicia law firms are working with the Law Society to develop resources for firms, including guides to developing parental and maternity leave and flexible work arrangement policies. Resources are also being developed to support women lawyers in their advancement from law firm associates to partners.

The Law Society’s governing body also approved an extension of the Parental Leave Assistance Program (PLAP) to December 31, 2012. First offered in 2009, PLAP is designed to help support lawyers in sole practices and partners in small practices of five or fewer lawyers after the birth or adoption of a child, by providing a fixed sum of $750 a week to eligible applicants for up to 12 weeks.

“The extension provides time for the Law Society to consider whether the program should be modified to reflect recent developments, including the expansion of employment insurance benefits to self- employed persons,” the news release said. “Notice of one year will be provided if the Law Society decides to end the program.”

For information on both programs, visit the Law Society website.