The Women’s Legal Mentorship Program (WLMP) is a unique national legal mentoring platform. The WLMP’s mentoring platform includes: the WLMP Mentoring Community and the WLMP National Student Program which incorporates our law school chapter pilot program.
Our mentoring platform and model is rooted in intersectional feminist equity principles and dedicated to mentoring all self-identified women, non-binary, gender nonconforming (which includes 2SLGBTQI+ and BIPOC self-identified women) in the law by providing a positive space for integrative mentorship, equity and leadership. With the focus on creating lasting change within the Canadian legal profession.
There is no membership fee to join.
Our mission is to dismantle the systemic barriers facing all self-identified women, non-binary, gender nonconforming (which includes 2SLGBTQI+ and BIPOC self-identified women) within the Canadian legal profession through integrative intersectional feminist mentorship, equity and leadership.
Not all self-identifying female law students have the same access to professional development, leadership or mentorship opportunities and networks as many of their peers do. Many self-identifying female law students face significant systemic barriers. The result is they are perpetual feeling left behind or have to work three times harder than some of their peers. We focus on helping close the gaps and promote an interest in lifelong mentoring, equity, leadership and professional development.
That is why the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program’s not only provides a platform for professional mentoring but through its National Student Program integrates skills based professional and leadership development opportunities.
By providing self-identifying female law students a positive professional legal mentoring space, they get a jump start on building their own personalized mentoring, networking and leadership development. Helping them move successfully from the classroom to the courtroom and beyond™.
The Women’s Legal Mentorship Program (WLMP) believes addressing the issue of the retention of self-identifying women in the law must start at the law school level and include law students. While the Law Society of Ontario’s Justicia Project focuses on self-identifying women after they are Called to the Bar, the reality is self-identifying female law students need professional mentoring, networking along with leadership and professional development guidance before they graduate.
Addressing the retention of self-identifying women in the law means helping self-identifying female law students before they start their professional legal careers. The WLMP has heard countless anecdotal stories from WLMP Lawyer and Student members, who credit the WLMP’s Program, whether the chapter based program or virtual mentoring platform for helping them stay in law school during their first year.
WLMP Student members who fully engage in the WLMP Program have stated they feel the WLMP’s focus on integrative intersectional feminist mentorship along with its equity, leadership and professional development options helped them gain confidence and build diverse personalized mentorship networks.
Over the years, Canadian law societies have issued numerous reports on the systemic barriers facing all self-identifying women in the legal profession. It’s a never-ending conversation. It’s continually studied but little changes.
The statistics surrounding the retention of self-identifying women in the law and the success of self-identifying women post-law school were startling. According to the Law Society of Ontario’s reports on the retention of self-identifying women in the law:
There has been some progress but not enough. Some of the reasons that self-identifying women cited for leaving legal practice included:
When a self-identified female lawyer’s identity intersects with 2SLGBTQI+, non-binary, gender nonconforming and/or they are a BIPOC and/or have other equity considerations, these systemic barriers are compounded. Particularly, if the self-identified female lawyer is BIPOC as outlined in the Law Society of Ontario’s Developing Strategies for Change: Addressing Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees consultation paper.
The WLMP’s national legal mentoring platform is a complete legal mentoring and networking program starting from the classroom, to the courtroom and beyond™. Our national mentoring platform includes: the virtual WLMP Mentoring Community as well as the WLMP National Student Program.
Our virtual Mentoring Community is a national online mentoring and networking community. Bringing together WLMP alumni, lawyers and law students. It’s membership based. Membership is free. Ensuring self-identifying women in the law from across Canada have a virtual mentoring and networking room of their own.
Members of the WLMP’s virtual mentoring community develop their own profiles, access and create their own mentoring circles and networks. Open up discussions on the issues they need mentoring on — all in a private members space. They can engage with the entire WLMP mentoring community, take part in goal or career specific mentoring, or join an existing mentorship circle specific to their equity and career needs. The choice is theirs.
Our National Student Program creates a braver virtual space to bring together self-identifying female law students from across Canada. Unlike our previous law school chapter based mentoring pilot program, the National Student Program does not rely on the law school schedules. There is no cut-off for applying to join the WLMP National Student Program. The National Student Program facilitates both student-lawyer and national peer mentorship matching at designated times throughout the year.
Plus, like our successful university chapter based program, WLMP National Student Program law student members can opt to complete a WLMP Peer Leadership Certificate™.
Those participating in the WLMP National Student Program can complete the WLMP Peer Leadership Certificate or if involved in a volunteer leadership role, the WLMP Executive Leadership Certificate™.
Together, the WLMP virtual Mentoring Community, the WLMP National Student Program and the WLMP University Program are powerful mentoring communities and tools that grow with every stage of a WLMP member’s professional journey.
WLMP mentoring circles allow member mentors and mentees, whether Canadian law students, articling/LPP students or lawyers, the ability to create their own diverse experiences. Because the WLMP mentoring platform is flexible and not prescriptive, it nurtures diverse empathetic, episodic, mutual and customized mentoring experiences.
Most of our WLMP Mentoring Circles operate in a virtual space. So, there is no limit on the size of a member’s mentoring experience, a member’s network, the purpose or the number of mentoring styles a member engages with. WLMP members shape their own mentoring experience; we provide the platform.
The WLMP virtual Mentoring Community is a member based online mentoring and networking community. Members of the WLMP’s virtual mentoring community develop their own profiles, message each other on within a secure space and create their own mentoring circles and networks. Plus, open up discussions on the issues they need mentoring on in a private space.
It gives them mentoring options. They can engage with the entire WLMP mentoring member community through the community’s messaging system, take part in goal or career specific mentoring or join an existing mentorship circle specific to their equity and career needs. The choice is theirs.
We know professional mentoring is a powerful resource. It is also very personal. Getting the best out of mentoring requires feeling safe. So, individuals can be themselves and truly develop the mentoring and networks they need.
The WLMP’s virtual mentoring community is a positive and safe online members’ mentoring space. Our mentorship community rules set out the privacy and community expectations. Giving WLMP virtual Mentoring Community members a space where they can be themselves helps them engage in the mentoring they need, when they need it. Plus, facilitates the growth of their own diverse personalized professional networks.
Any self-identifying female lawyer licensed in Canada and/or law student, who is currently registered and enrolled in a Canadian law school can become a member and access the WLMP virtual mentorship community. Also, Articling/ Law Practice Program (LPP) students can join the WLMP mentoring community and act as a mentor to a third year law student. There is no cost to join.
To become a WLMP Mentoring Community member, all WLMP members must ensure they are in good standing within the Canadian legal profession and/or their law school in Canada. They must fill out a member profile before any login access is granted. There is also an approval and authentication process for the WLMP Virtual Mentoring Community that takes about one week during the academic year. From May through to September, the authentication process may take a bit longer.
All WLMP memberships are free. It’s our way of supporting the dismantling of systemic barriers within the Canadian legal community.
At this time, the WLMP does not have an NCA specific mentor matching program or mentoring circle. However, to become of member of the WLMP, National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) candidates must meet the WLMP’s membership criteria and also the NCA application criteria set out by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. They must also be actively registered in the NCA application process and provide verifiable information. As well, they must be currently articling or have secured articles in Canada. The WLMP is 100% volunteer run and receives no funding.
Yes. The WLMP is a mentoring community. We value and protect the privacy of all WLMP members. Mentorship matching requires WLMP legal mentors to disclose information for mentorship matching purposes. In the course of mentorship matching some information such as contact information and other relevant mentorship information may be shared with potential WLMP mentees to facilitate matching. Therefore, membership (which is free) is required to become a legal mentor.
Yes. The WLMP is a mentoring community. We value and protect the privacy of all WLMP members. Mentorship matching requires WLMP peer mentors (these are second year (2L) and third year (3L) law school students) to disclose information for mentorship matching purposes. In the course of mentorship matching some information such as contact information and other relevant mentorship information may be shared with potential WLMP peer mentees to facilitate matching. Therefore, membership (which is free) is required to become a peer mentor.
Yes. The WLMP is a mentoring community. We value and protect the privacy of all WLMP members. Mentorship matching requires WLMP mentees looking for either a legal mentor and/or peer mentor to disclose information for mentorship matching purposes. In the course of mentorship matching some information such as contact information and other relevant mentorship information may be shared with potential WLMP legal mentor and/or peer mentor to facilitate matching. Therefore, membership (which is free) is required to apply for a WLMP legal mentor and/or peer mentor.
No. All WLMP memberships are free. It’s our way of supporting the dismantling of systemic barriers within the Canadian legal community.
However, there is a real cost to creating a virtual mentoring community and operating the WLMP mentoring platform. Such as paying for hosting the WLMP community site and website, virtual events, maintenance and to support the work of the WLMP. While we do not currently charge a membership, we cannot guarantee that membership will continue to be free in the future.
The reality is, like a majority of legal associations, the WLMP may need to charge a membership fee in the future in order to sustain its work and the development of a national legal mentoring community. If we are forced to charge a membership fee, then any membership fee would be nominal and in keeping with the Canadian legal industry standards and inline with the membership fees charged by other legal associations.
We are hoping to work in collaboration with partners to develop WLMP mentoring platform through donations and sponsorships from the Canadian legal community will help cover our costs.
Members of the Canadian legal community can help the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program (WLMP) by joining the WLMP Mentoring Community, registering as a legal mentor with the WLMP National Student program or volunteering their expertise by leading a WLMP webinar or become a Partner for Change.
Registering as a WLMP legal mentor with the WLMP is free and easy. First, sign up as a WLMP member to ensure you can access all the WLMP resources. Then fill out the WLMP Legal Mentorship Application. WLMP Student-Lawyer Mentoring in-take and matching only happens three times a year: Spring/Summer, Fall and Winter.
The WLMP University Chapter Program was a pilot project that ran at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law between 2011 and 2020. While hugely successful, the onset of Covid-19 challenged the WLMP to move away from its traditional university chapter based model and expand its virtual mentoring and open the program to lawyers and students on a national level.
We’ve maintained our unique program by combining our copyrighted certified 3-part integrative feminist mentorship program that combines: Peer Mentorship options, Student-Legal Mentorship options with Professional and Leadership Development programming into our National Student Program. Plus, WLMP student members can opt to complete a WLMP Peer Leadership Certificate™ and in some cases where there is a student leadership role, those students can opt to complete the WLMP Executive Leadership Certificate™.
Like with our WLMP Law School Chapter pilot project, students can get a chance to lead and get hands-on experience at a national executive level. Our National Student Leadership Program models the best practices law students may encounter in government lawyer departmental, in-house counsel, public interest and law firm management work by running the WLMP National Student Program events and outreach work.
However, we have not closed off a return to WLMP University Law School Chapters in the future. The WLMP is always open to discussing re-opening our licensed WLMP University Chapter program within a law school. Any law school interested, can contact the WLMP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WLMP’s unique mentorship model was pioneered and developed by Charlotte Wolters. The WLMP’s University Program was first piloted at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in Fall 2011. Talking with female law students, it became clear there was both a need and desire for a new type of mentorship programming. Ms. Wolters brought together 8 other law students to set-up the first WLMP University Chapter pilot project — WLMP uOttawa Chapter. This university chapter based pilot program ended in 2020.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the WLMP evolved to support WLMP lawyers and law student members dedicated to dismantling systemic barriers through integrative feminist mentorship and professional development. Evolving into the WLMP Mentoring Community and WLMP National Student Program. Allowing WLMP lawyer and student members to make a difference by mentoring networking and volunteering from home.
Charlotte Wolters is the WLMP’s Creator and Founder. In October 2010, Charlotte began developing the WLMP pilot project. She approached her law school professor and outlined her concept for an integrated intersectional feminist mentorship program.
The WLMP’s underlying mentorship philosophy and modeling flows from Charlotte’s feminist intersectional background as a daughter of immigrant refugees, growing up without access to the networks and programs open to others who came from upper middle-class backgrounds, her previous professional experience, observations of how law school’s culture contributes to the Canadian legal profession’s systemic barriers and her academic research — the Feminist Mentorship Gap Project. A forthcoming book is expected sometime in 2024/25.
No. The WLMP is currently not a not-for-profit (“NFP”). Given the work of the WLMP and its intersectional feminist principles obtaining charitable tax status was not possible. As a result, the NFP model was not suitable for moving the WLMP forward.
So, the WLMP became a social enterprise. It’s purpose is to fulfill its social mission of changing Canada’s legal culture and dismantling the barriers facing the retention of all self-identified women (which includes 2SLGBTQI+, non-binary, gender diverse and BIPOC self-identified women) within the legal profession.
Any funds the WLMP brand generates are used principally to fund the delivery of the WLMP members benefits, WLMP actions regarding promoting the dismantling of systemic barriers in the legal profession and the program’s expansion with the purpose of maximizing the benefits of its work within the broader society.
No. It is extremely important to the WLMP’s mission that we maintain our intersectional feminist framework. Given the WLMP’s intersectional feminist framework, we engage from time to time in communicating call-to-actions within the legal community on issues of dismantling barriers within the Canadian legal profession, Access to Justice issues, Bencher Elections and so forth. This means the WLMP was deemed unable to become a registered charity.
According to a legal opinion we received, the WLMP’s feminist framework would be considered political. If the WLMP was able to be designated a registered charity, like all registered charities in Canada, it would be subject to political audits (more information can be found here) making it difficult to fulfill our mission of dismantling barriers within the legal profession. For this reason, the WLMP does not feel becoming a registered charity is the right direction at this time.
The WLMP does not profit from its mentorship platform or programming. While we understand donations would increase if we were able to provide tax receipts, however it would greatly reduce our ability to address the issue of dismantling barriers within the Canadian legal profession and require us to alter our intersectional feminist framework. Both of which are far too important to the mission of the WLMP.
No. The WLMP does not have a Board of Directors. Between March 2015 and March 2020, the WLMP experimented with a not-for-profit Carver board model. However, this board model limited the WLMP’s evolution and growth. In March 2020, the WLMP as a Not-for-Profit and its Board of Directors was dissolved.
The WLMP’s Leadership & Equity Advisory Group are a team of professionals in the legal profession and non-law related professions, who are passionate about mentorship, leadership, equity and creating lasting change.
The WLMP Advisory Group provides advice and recommendations on aspects of the WLMP mentoring platform. They do this through project specific focused committee work and by responding to the WLMP’s quarterly program assessment surveys. They are not a governing board or corporate board. Also, members of the WLMP Advisory Group act as WLMP Mentoring Ambassadors.
As WLMP Mentoring Ambassadors, they participate in events on the behalf of the WLMP, whether its representing the WLMP at speaking events, participating in group mentoring sessions or leading a webinar.
If you are interested in inviting a WLMP Mentoring Ambassador to speak about the WLMP, do not hesitate to contact us.
WLMP Update Regarding Covid-19. Read More