The Law Society of Upper Canada has Ontario’s lawyers in a fit. The Society, which governs the province’s lawyers, has proposed that new anti-discrimination rules should come into effect. It is being proposed that law firms be prohibited from discriminating against lawyers who reduce their work loads in order to take care of family responsibilities.
This remarkably pro-family proposal would be a departure from the way that most large law firms operate in the province. In order to advance to the level of partner in most large firm, one must be prepared to sacrifice family life in order to put in the greatest number of hours – to maximize the amount which can be billed to clients.
This places many female lawyers in a dilemma. Those who decide that they will take time out to have children, and consequently reduce their working hours to take care of their children, find that they are excluded from advancement in the firm. The proposed rule would prevent law firms from discriminating against men and women who reduce their billable hours because of family responsibilities. It would radically change the position of women in the legal profession.
The proposed rule is pro-family. For years feminists have pushed for a greater participation of women in the work force. But the price has been nothing less than anti-human. Women are treated as equals in the work place and in the professions provided they are willing to sacrifice their ability to bear children and their natural and laudable desires to spend time raising those children.
This is one reason that the pro-life movement so often finds itself at odds with the feminist movement. Equality until now has meant that women are treated as equal as long as they disown their ability to give life. Women are treated as equal to men when they cease being women. That is most certainly not liberation. All that might be in for a change. Now, the governing body of the legal profession in the largest province in the country is suggesting that women should be able to enjoy a full legal career, as would any man, and be able to enjoy family life. That is truly something to rejoice about.
It is hard to overstate the impact of this proposal. The advancement of women in the work force is one which the corporate world and bodies such as large law firms have fully supported. But then why shouldn’t they? Working women means more people looking for work and therefore cheaper labour. It also means more spending money in the hands of consumers and therefore greater sales. The support of the conservative corporate world for women’s equality to this point is hardly surprising.
This proposal however is different because it doesn’t make good economic sense as much as it makes good human sense. If a law firm, or any other business, wants to maximize its profit, it will seek to get the maximum amount of effort put of each employee. It serves profit-making to treat workers ass simply another resource to be manipulated in order to extract the maximum output from them. Allowing parents to spend more time with their families obviously runs contrary to this. It is important to remember that this proposal applies equally to men.
Given all this, it is not surprising that much of the legal establishment is in a flap over this proposal. The measure after all, is in direct conflict with fundamental attitudes which have driven Western business interests for so long. The fight against the proposal is being led in large part by the Law Times, a weekly newspaper for lawyers. The sort of sleazy tactics which are common in media reports on pro-life issues are being used here. In a front page story on the issue, the newspaper quotes six sources – all opposed or expressing reservations about the proposal.
The Globe and Mail, Canada’s voice of business and as well, the foremost promoter of abortion and anti-life opinion, printed an op-ed piece from a Law Times columnist. She made it clear that the proposal is unacceptable because it somehow is built on the idea that child raising is a laudable activity which should be encouraged. Clearly the anti-family gang sees this as dangerous legislation.
Getting the proposal approved will be an uphill battle. It could just be beginning of a revolution that sees family life triumph over profit-making.