Queer Insights on Women in the Legal Profession

42 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014 Last revised: 11 Feb 2015

See all articles by Jena McGill

Jena McGill

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Amy Salyzyn

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: August 1, 2014

Abstract

In the past decade, members of the legal profession in Canada and other common law jurisdictions, including England and the United States, have directly engaged the question of how to retain women in private practice environments. As a result, the ‘retention of women’ discourse has emerged as a dominant lens through which issues of gender equity in the legal profession are identified and analysed. The goal of this article is to build upon existing critiques of the ‘retention of women’ discourse by asking what insights Queer theory might bring to ongoing debates about the ‘retention of women’ in the legal profession. The analysis charts the rise of the ‘retention of women’ issue in Canada and other common law jurisdictions and connects the ‘retention of women’ discourse with Queer legal theory. Drawing on select tenets of Queer theory, the article then considers how the ‘retention of women’ debate reconstitutes conventional notions of lawyer professionalism and recasts the boundaries of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ lawyers. The article concludes, first, that Queer theory is a useful theoretical lens though which discussions about the ‘retention of women’ in the discourse of legal professionalism can be meaningfully examined, and, second, that a Queer theory lens reveals fundamental limitations of existing approaches to the ‘retention of women’ question in the common law world.

Keywords: legal ethics, legal profession, retention of women, queer theory

Suggested Citation

McGill, Jena and Salyzyn, Amy, Queer Insights on Women in the Legal Profession (August 1, 2014). (2014) 17(2) Legal Ethics ; Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2014-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2466003

Jena McGill

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

Amy Salyzyn (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur St
Ottawa, Ontario K1N6N5
Canada

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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