Legal firms concerned about staff diversity

Retention of minorities, women needs improvement. High tuition a barrier
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/28/2004

Large legal firms are growing alarmed as they watch women and visible minority lawyers leave private practice after a few years, says Amy Gough Farnworth, chair of the equality committee at the Canadian Bar Association.

“A lot of women are leaving large firms and going into in-house counsel in corporations or in the government. Private firms are losing a lot of people at a certain point in their career. The firms train people and they leave. The same goes for lawyers of racial minorities. And these are people who are successful in obtaining new positions. They haven’t been fired or anything; they leave on their own volition,” said Gough Farnworth, an employment lawyer at Saint John-based Stewart McKelvey Stirling and Scales.

The trend of people leaving private practice isn’t hard to prove. The reasons why are. To help law firms identify the barriers, overt or otherwise, the Canadian Bar Association is developing an equity audit template that will probe beyond the numbers.