Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 23 of 51

22 SPECIAL REPORT WOMEN IN LAW C M Y CM MY CY CMY K "Law firms' business models were designed at a time when all lawyers were men and almost all had stay-at-home wives." Nikki Gershbain, McCarthy Tétrault LLP for anyone, period — the emphasis on long hours over the quality of output, the import- ance of fixed schedules over productivity." Sylvia James, chief diversity and inclusion officer with Winston & Strawn in Washington, D.C., talked to those at the summit about "implicit bias" and how it impacts every part of the employment relationship. It has an effect on "who we recruit, who we mentor, who we sponsor, who we give assignments to and how we evaluate people who we promote." She pointed to one study that asked prac- tising lawyers to grade a memo supposedly written by third-year students from NYU law school. Organizers told half the participating lawyers that a white student wrote the memo and half that a Black student wrote it. The memo was graded 4.2 out of five by lawyers who thought the author was white and 3.1 by those lawyers who believed the author was Black. Another part of the study involved inten- tional grammatical mistakes included in the memo. Those grading the memo supposedly written by a Black student found more errors than those grading the memos thought to be written by a white student. "Is there an unconscious bias to treat the non-white candidate more harshly than the white candidate?" asked James. Julia Shin Doi, Ryerson University's general counsel and chief privacy officer, said her institution implemented relatively simple practices during the pandemic to help those working from home and looking after children. Even booking meetings in 15-minute increments and ensuring at least a 10-minute gap to help their kids or get them a snack can be a big help, she said — also, no meetings on Fridays and adding an extra mental health day to existing long weekends. "The practice of law is one that can eat up all of your time, and there is a sense of needing to be on call 24-7," said Alysia Davies, staff clinician at Homewood Health, who practised law for about 10 years before moving into the counselling profession. Simultaneously, she said, many female lawyers have had to deal with interruptions from their children who need help, the need to be on Zoom calls and even missing the simple

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