Structure of the Workplace Or, Should We Continue to Knock the Corners off the Square Pegs or Can We Change the Shape of the Holes


  • Wendy G. Baker



The author discusses the structure of the workplace in the legal profession from the perspective of a woman who has practiced law for fifteen years, who was on a recent task force reviewing gender equality in the legal profession and who is now a member of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. From this perspective, the author finds that workplace structures in the legal profession have changed very little in the past two decades. However, a number of factors are compelling the legal profession to rethink workplace structures: average incomes of lawyers have dropped in recent years as compared to other similarly educated Canadians; traditional areas of practice for lawyers are being encroached upon by other professionals and para-professionals; the oftentimes unpopular image of the profession amongst its clients and the general public; and the increasing presence of women in the profession and their male counterparts who also wish to break from traditional modes of practice. These factors are forcing members of the profession to begin to take advantage of the flexibility latent in the traditional legal work environment to alter the structure of the workplace. The author says these changes are necessary to better serve the needs of both lawyers and the democratic society it is their function to defend.