Justitias Døtre –
the Norwegian network for female lawyers
By Karen L. Oppegaard Haavik, Head of Business Developement of the Norwegian Association of Lawyers. October 2014.
This network was developed in 2004 by the Norwegian Association of Lawyers – Norges Juristforbund. Justitias Døtre is a network that focuses on career opportunities, leadership and the working life in general for female lawyers.
Around 2004 there was a new legislation in Norway, to maintain a 40 % gender balance in the ASA boards. One clear purpose was therefore to contribute to succeed with this goal. As a part of establishing this network, the Norwegian Association of Lawyers also developed a webpage called www.kvinneristyret.no. This was a database showing the competence of several hundred female lawyers, also promoting women who wanted to take on leader- and board positions, and women who already had this experience.
Justitias Døtre consists of smaller networks throughout Norway. Typically a network group has between 10-20 members, meeting 5-10 times during the year. In the bigger cities we would also arrange larger meeting to recruit new members as well.
The number of female lawyers has been increasing during the last decades. In 2013 68 % of the graduates were women, while 32 % were men. It is most “common” that more women enter the public sector than men. However, there is a big challenge when it comes to keeping female lawyers in the private sector and the law firms. As women develop a family they tend to make a career shift from the private sector and the law firms, to the public sector.
At the law firms around 60 % of the young associates are women. Climbing up the career ladder ca. 40 % of the female lawyers become “associates/senior associates”, while only 14 % of the female lawyers are partners at law firms. (Ref: Advokatforeningens bransjeundersøkelse 2013).
The Norwegian Association of Lawyers did a research regarding the gender balance in the Law Industry, and looked in to the issues of which businesses who succeeded in being a good place to work, maintaining a work environment that had a good acceptance for the employee’s work-life-balance. Our study was also based on the nomination criterias by the research institution “Best place to work”, combined with field studies and a master paper.
It was interesting to find out that no matter if you were a male or a female lawyer, the traditional hierarchy which is present in the traditional law firms, actually works as a disadvantage regarding being an attractive future workplace. Our studies showed that there is an important issue to address when it comes to gender representation in the Law Industry. The philosophy of the person who is leading any business and the business culture has a huge impact on its ability to keep and develop their talents. Hence also in regards to who will advance into leading positions or take their competences to a different company or sector. This finding addresses not only women, but also male lawyers (Arbeids- og livsnavigasjonsrapporten 2010, Norges Juristforbund).
Karen L. Oppegaard Haavik