The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) is getting heat now for supporting single mothers of another type – sole practitioners – and also those in smaller firms.
In a unanimous vote, LSUC will increase it’s fees by a measly $5-15 per lawyer to assist mothers and fathers seeking parental leave by providing grants of $3,000 a month.
But Karen Selick of the National Post slams the program, calling it “creeping socialism” (that’s a bad thing, by the way).
Selick also neglects to mention that the initiative was the result of a province-wide consultation by LSUC’s Working Group on the Retention of Women in Private Practice, which included many different social and ethnic groups and firms of all sizes. LSUC heard from 900 lawyers and students and received over 55 written submissions.
But consulting, of course, is so very undemocratic.
The Working Group states,
Women have been entering the private practice of law in record numbers for over two decades. However, they have also been leaving in great numbers, largely because private practice has not adapted to their realities, such as childbirth and taking on a significant portion of family responsibilities.
Also overlooked is that the move is part of a major plan to address the issue of equity in the workplace. Other recommendations adopted include:
- a think tank to promote retention and advancement of women in law
- direct support for women
- practice locums, for more leave and flex-time
- career development resources
- creating an advisory group
- networking strategies for minority (Francophone, Aboriginal) women
- a review program
But they also clearly express that this initiative begins in the law schools by preparing female law students for the realities of law.
The entire comprehensive 174-page report can be found here.
If valuable legal talent is being lost to inflexible and inadvertently discriminatory work practices, you would think this would be perceived as a progressive move.
What I have never understood is why anyone gives a damn whether women are leaving private practice and clustering in government or corporate jobs, or quitting entirely.
Beyond ethical and humanitarian concerns, the legal industry loses millions of dollars a year due to skilled practitioners leaving the law.
We invest a lot in education and programs and do a lot of intensive training from new associates and junior partners.
So when you have a well thought out plan that will save the legal industry mega bucks, and it’s also the right thing to do, why would someone think that it’s a bad thing?
Maybe it’s because they also think that human rights laws are phony too.
h/t Sharon Kour of UWO Law
Selick justifies her stance using legal economic theory. This type of analysis is frequently used by libertarians and the far right, as they create arbitrary cost-benefit analysis that attempt to prove their position.
More recently, legal economics has become popularized by books such as More Sex is Safer Sex. The author comes to some absurd conclusions, such as it’s better for a sexually inactive person to have a fling with a more promiscuous partner and contract a STD before returning to their inactive lifestyle, because they removed the opportunity of another more active person from getting the disease and passing it on to others.
But they also come up with some quite scary policy stances, such as justifying racial profiling. The problem with legal economics is that their supporters selectively choose the facts and statistics they include in their calculations. In the case of racial profiling, for example, many other studies have demonstrating that it actually increases cost and decreases effectiveness. Legal economists rarely have scientific or statistical backgrounds.
Canada invests hundreds of millions of dollars into our publicly subsidized education system. Despite rising tuition costs, they are still relatively low compared to other nations. But this means that your tax dollars are going into funding the education of women, who are now comprising 50-60% of law school classes. By not creating a more favorable career environment, we lose the incredible investment we put into these individuals. It’s these types of figures that are conveniently overlooked by strictly utilitarian legal economists, who falsely present their arguments as as logical and well-thought out.