Mapping Her Path
Women in British Columbia have been entering the legal profession in numbers equal to or greater than men for more than a decade. Yet women represent only 34% of the province’s practicing lawyers, and only 29% of lawyers currently in full-time private practice.
To address this gap, JES’ Mapping Her Path project explored the barriers facing women in the legal profession in British Columbia and created tailored resources to improve their retention and advancement in the field.
In 2015, the JES project team conducted a needs assessment within BC’s legal sector with participation from 400 respondents, most of whom were practicing women lawyers. Of the 119 who had left private practice, 71% described it as incompatible with desired work-life balance, and 61% cited the workplace environment as a contributing factor to their decision. Over 60% experienced harmful situations where they believe gender played a role at work—leading to negative treatment, harassment, or the requirement to make untenable choices.
In response to these disappointing findings, JES piloted a number of initiatives to train law students and early career lawyers, improve mentorship opportunities, and raise awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The JES project team developed custom online resources that supported female lawyers with knowledge and resources, and published articles in the Advocate and Bar Talk to raise awareness of gender-based harassment and employment issues throughout the British Columbian legal community.
- Conducted a comprehensive needs assessment with participation from over 400 legal professionals
- Provided education and training to over 200 women law students
- Developed online resources that supported female lawyers on topics of mentorship, sexual harassment, and career success, including 13 video resources.
- Published articles in the Advocate and Bar Talk regarding the discrimination faced by BC women lawyers