With more than half of their Canadian offices led by female Managing Partners, it’s clear that inclusion and diversity are of paramount importance at Gowling WLG. Montreal Managing PartnerJoëlle Boisvert explains the reasons for such a strategy.
Leaders League. In February 2016, Gowling WLG was officially launched. How is the integration of WLG going?
Joëlle Boisvert. In recent years, many of our clients have increasingly begun looking globally for new opportunities, and, as their legal advisers, this presents an important opportunity for us as well. We now have a strong an international platform with which to serve clients. Going into the combination, the biggest challenge we faced was finding a way to maintain Gowlings’ DNA when joining our practices. Fortunately, because our two firms share many of the same values, are roughly the same size and already had experience working together, the combination went as smoothly as possible.
Leaders League what will be the next challenge in terms of business for Gowling WLG?
J.B. In the coming years, we’ll be focusing heavily on how we can help our clients across various sectors, including energy and nuclear, natural resources, life sciences, tech and real estate. We have also decided to continue to invest in innovation, developing tools such as “Practical LPM,” which is a groundbreaking approach to legal project management. A collaborative software platform, “Practical LPM” provides a clear road map for all types of legal issues, from sophisticated corporate commercial matters to complex litigation in Canada and around the world.
Leaders League. As the first woman to manage the Montreal office, what is your philosophy on leadership?
J.B. I believe you have to surround yourself with the right people if you want to be a good leader. I truly think a diverse and inclusive workplace increases one’s ability to develop creative and innovative solutions for clients. I also think that, unfortunately, very few women who enter the legal industry reach or remain in strategic leadership positions – a trend that sadly isn’t unique to this industry. With this in mind, in 2015 I decided to get involved in leadership workshops such as l’effet A to encourage women to take up strategic positions. As part of this initiative, we set up an idea incubator to establish a working career model for women to help facilitate their access to leadership roles.
Leaders League. What about the diversity and inclusion strategy at Gowling WLG?
J.B. Diversity is one of the key success factors for a company. At Gowling WLG, we promote the development of leadershipby women in all areas of professional activity. That is why today, 27 per cent of our partners are women, and in Canada, more than half of our offices are led by female managing partners. Significantly, when our two firms combined we included in the global partnership agreement a pledge to increase female staff numbers by 30 percent by 2026. Also, in an effort to promote diversity among the next generation of law firm leaders, we created the Gowling WLG-Scott Jolliffe Program to Promote Diversity within Leadership in partnership with Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD). This program will deliver training sessions to female lawyers, lawyers from various minority groups and lawyers with disabilities.