Gender Equality and Lawyers Work: Education as a Strategy for Change in the Legal Profession?

Mary Jane Mossman

In the 1993 report, Touchstones for Change, the Canadian Bar Association's Task Force on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession (chaired by former justice Bertha Wilson) identified problems of inequality for women in the Canadian legal profession. Among other recommendations, the Task Force suggested that the profession should provide continuing "remedial human rights" educational programmes for lawyers until these norms "form the basis of a common understanding" within the profession. For several years between 1994 and 1997, I designed and implemented gender equality seminars for three major corporate law firms in Toronto, and offered these seminars to groups of their lawyers on more than 40 occasions. In previous work on this subject, I have reflected on the pedagogical challenges of gender equality educational programmes in the law firm context (Onati proceedings: 1999), and the extent to which the history of women's entry to the profession did not fundamentally challenge its gendered norms. In this paper, I assess how educational programmes must confront directly the nature of legal work and its increasing "asynchronisity" (Franklin The Real World of Technology) in order to contribute to a strategy of gender equality goals in the legal profession.

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