Catalyst studies show an associate’s departure costs a [Canadian] firm about $315,000 in recruiting, training, salaries, overhead, severance, outplacement and other costs – not including hiring a replacement. The stress of juggling work and family usually falls more heavily on female lawyers… So what can law firms do to be more flexible in the face of the notoriously heavy demands of a client-driven and increasingly business-like profession? kchown.jpg Kirby Chown hopes she can find solutions. The 59-year-old is managing partner for Ontario of McCarthy Tetrault, one of Canada’s largest law firms. Two years ago, Chown started a women’s network in her firm’s Toronto office to create a stronger community of women and brainstorm around issues such as mentoring and business networking, which help lawyers move up the ladder. Last year, she helped create a firm-wide women’s committee. “Very few women are taking advantage of flex-time arrangements,” Chown admitted. “There are concerns about being stigmatized.” No men have requested the option, according to Chown.

My Opinion: I grow weary of the stereotypical myth-riddled responses of the power people in many major law firms giving excuse after excuse as to why keeping women engaged is next to impossible. I do not believe it and neither should you. This challenge will be met by some firms who will gain enormous competitive advantage. They will lower their costs and see much higher productivity. Tom Peters (most famous business writer of all time) three days ago refers to the Economist in his blog post called Women’s World! The Economist article to which he refers has the following headline: “Forget China, India and the Internet: Economic Growth Is Driven by Women.” Tie these two together and put this on the agenda of your next executive meeting. (Maybe you should consider inviting Kirby Chown for a visit.) Note: According to the “Mission and History” entry on its web site, Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. See this information and more in today’s article in the Gazette (Montreal) called: Flexible work schedules save money, research shows