Law Times

May 6, 2013

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LABOUR RELATIONS CIVILITY DEBATE P2 LSUC expands protocol to tribunals $4.00 • Vol. 24, No. 16 ntitled-4 1 FOCUS ON Feds to intervene in Crown corporation bargaining P6 Personal Injury Law L aw TIMes P8 Litigation Support Scan. Code. Load CO V E R I N G O N TA R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W. L AW T I M E S N E W S . CO M 12-03-20 10:44 AM ntitled-7 1 e: May 6, 2013 13-04-08 11:11 A Women lawyers' secrets to success Followup survey finds mentorship helped group move up ranks BY HELEN BURNETT-NICHOLS For Law Times F our years after their firms identified them as strong performers, a group of women lawyers continues to move up the ranks of the profession thanks in part to ongoing mentorship and an increased focus on retention efforts. In 2009, career coach and former litigator Sheena MacAskill surveyed the work-based behavioural tendencies of a group of 23 women lawyers singled out as high achievers by their firms. The original group from 12 small and large firms included women in their fifth to eighth year of practice who had just entered partnership or were on the cusp of doing so. Of the group, half were litigators and the other half were corporate lawyers. Some were married, others were single, and some had children. Following up on the women in 2013, MacAskill says 20 of the survey participants remain in private practice and of that group, 19 are partners in their firms. Of the other three, two are in-house counsel and one is prosecuting. The numbers, says MacAskill, speak to the resilience and skill sets of the lawyers surveyed. "I was surprised in the context of the general discussion about retention of women but when I think about why these women were selected in the first place back in 2009, it shouldn't have surprised me because they were high performing four years ago and I was just delighted to see that most of them have advanced into equity partnership and they remain in private practice," says MacAskill. Although the original survey found similarities among the participants' work-based tendencies and past Sheena MacAskill was happy to see many survey participants had advanced to equity partnership since 2009. Photo: Laura Pedersen leadership experience, for an overwhelming number of lawyers, having a mentor as a champion was the most crucial step on the path to partnership. Four years later, mentorship continues to be one of the factors helping the group to push higher. Tara Parker, an entertainment lawyer with Goodmans LLP who made partner in 2009, says she has benefited from having mentors not just with the power to promote but also those with access to different types of work or opportunities to build skills. Michelle Laniel, who was a senior associate at the time of the original survey and has since become a partner in the financial services group at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, also points to her mentor, a senior partner at her firm, as key to her success. "He has entrusted me with a great deal of responsibility, always made me feel part of the team even being a young articling student and young associate," she says. While it's hard to generalize why this group of women lawyers has remained so successful, Laniel, who has also had two children since the 2009 survey, says the combination of firm-based encouragement as well as a supportive family has likely helped many continue to practise law. Since the original survey, participant Wendi Locke, a partner in the business law group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, has joined the full partnership and assumed responsibility for the associates in her department in Toronto. Over the last four years, Locke says firms have dramatically boosted the conscious effort to take diversity into account when making decisions. See Bias, page 5 CBA launching study on future of legal profession Law Times C Clients want greater transparency and participation in their legal matters, says Fred Headon. Childview_LT_Dec3_12.indd 1 lients want greater involvement in the work they hire lawyers to do, according to the preliminary findings of a Canadian Bar Association study on the future of the legal profession. The study is looking at the imminent transformation of the legal profession and how lawyers can change with it. At the heart of the research is the idea that adapting to new realities is a choice for which the only alternative is extinction. New demands from clients include greater transparency and participation in their legal matters, says CBA vice president Fred Headon. "I was particularly intrigued that our research showed the profound desire for clients to be very involved in the process . . . in the work that we do," he says. "It would be interesting to see what further probing reveals about this, but [clients] want to be involved in discussions about how the work is performed, they want to be able to do some parts of the work themselves, and they'd like to involve other professionals in the work." Cost is another pressure the study is looking at. According to preliminary findings, clients are looking for what Headon calls predictability. "We found there are clients who are of course frustrated by the idea that when they engage a law- yer, they do not know with much certainty what the bill would be at the end of the process," he says. It's time for the legal profession to recognize segments of the market that could benefit from innovation and collaboration with entrepreneurs, says Headon. The first results of the study will be available in June in a consultation paper that will highlight the issues and seek opinion from the legal profession and those it serves about the best way to move forward. In the meantime, the CBA has launched a Twitter discussion (#CBAfutures) to hear from lawyers about their experiences. It will also be releasing information from its background research on the issues. LT PM #40762529 BY YAMRI TADDESE 12-11-26 11:24 AM

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