The Advisory: Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2012

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Candid Conversations held with Women in Law

To encourage a dialogue between women in law practices on topical issues, the Law Society of Alberta recently hosted a “Candid Conversations with Women in Law.”

The March 8th “Candid Conversations” event facilitated small group, roundtable discussions among women from various practice settings on topics of interest to them. In all, 49 women from the Edmonton legal community attended.

Topics for discussion included marketing and business development; issues relating to maternity or parental leaves, and strategies for balancing personal and professional demands. Participants were grouped by area of practice or work environment and were joined by more senior practitioners with a view to facilitating an open discussion and the sharing of information, experiences and advice within the discussion groups.

The event was hosted by the Law Society of Alberta’s Retention of Women Working Group, in collaboration with Canadian Bar Association Women Lawyer Forum - Northern Section. Lunch was sponsored by the Counsel Network.

Initially assembled to organize a speaking panel at the University of Calgary to inform students on the realities of the first few years of practice, the Retention of Women Working Group has become a working group pilot project through the Office of the Equity Ombudsperson. For the past couple of years, the group has been engaged in various activities at the Faculties of Law Calgary and Edmonton to support and inform law students. The Working Group has also hosted other events including luncheons this winter at both Alberta law schools designed to encourage candid discussions between female law students and experienced women in practice which were very well received.

Based on membership demographic data, and reports from other law societies, we know there are challenges for new lawyers, and these often result in membership attrition in the first several years of practice.

While the Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force is examining this issue in greater detail, the working group is focusing on undertaking small initiatives with a view to providing tangible opportunities for lawyers to connect.

Lawyers interested in coordinating similar initiatives are encouraged to contact the Equity Ombudsperson, Jocelyn Frazer at 403-229-4769.

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