March 8, 2016
CLA Report: Women Leaving Criminal Law at High Rate
According to a new report from the Criminal Lawyer’s Association (CLA), women are leaving the practice at an alarmingly high rate that exceeds the number of men leaving criminal law.
“Low pay, lack of financial support for maternity leave, and being treated differently than male peers by judges and court staff” were listed in the study as some of the reasons that women choose to leave the profession. The study also concluded that many women dropped criminal law after 5 years and few were practicing after 10 years.
Entitled “The Retention of Women in the Private Practice of Criminal Law”, this report was released during a CLA conference in London, Ontario this past weekend and was authored by Natasha Madon and Anthony Doob. Natasha is a postdoctoral research fellow from Australia’s Griffith University, while Anthony is a professor emeritus of criminology at the University of Toronto. They assessed stats from Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, set up five focus groups, and surveyed 225 female criminal lawyers in Ontario to come to their conclusions.
Breese Davies, vice-president of the CLA, told CBC news that these type of findings have been reported anecdotally for years. She states “we all had impressions that women were leaving criminal practice at a higher rate than men, but we never had any numbers to determine whether or not our impressions were real.”
According to the study, in 1996, 47 women started practicing criminal law and by 2004, only 13 were still practicing “substantially”.
CBC also interviewed a number of women working in criminal law and they shared their experiences noting what an uphill battle it is to remain a woman in the field. To learn more about this report and about these women’s experiences in criminal law, read on at the CBC News website.