Hope you’re interested in Canada this morning. Canada.com has a story about the frustrations faced by female lawyers, and a new women’s professional mentoring program in Calgary.
Patricia McLeod bumped up against the invisible wall between female and male lawyers as a young articling student at a Vancouver law firm.
Male students were more frequently invited to football games by the firm’s partners, most of whom were men. More frustrating, when the men played on the company hockey team “the guys would get passed files in the locker-room,” says McLeod. Rubbing shoulders with partners and getting as many billable hours as possible could mean the difference between being kept on at the end of the year or not, she explains.
But when women at the firm decided to start holding get togethers of their own, “there was a huge objection to our ‘hen parties,'” says the 40-year-old…
“We were told we should join the hockey team.”
The Lilith Law Professional Development and Mentoring program launched in Calgary last week and is the first of its kind in Canada.
Patricia Blocksom, a senior partner with Dunphy Best Blocksom; Valerie Prather, a partner with Bennett Jones; and Ronnalee McMahon, a mentoring expert with Action Circle Consulting; all decided it was time to help younger female lawyers learn to navigate what Blocksom calls “the systemic barriers against women in the profession.”
Ten proteges are paired with 10 mentors. Proteges are usually associate lawyers who’ve been at a firm for three to five years but haven’t yet “made partner.” Mentors are typically senior lawyers, some partners with a financial stake in their firms.
In the formalized six-month program, proteges and mentors meet once a month for up to two hours. Contracts guaranteeing confidentiality are signed and goals are set. The entire group also gathers once a month for professional development sessions that feature guest speakers.