Two groups in Winnipeg are looking at ways to make it easier for Manitoba’s female lawyers to have families.

Only 36 per cent of practising lawyers in the province are female, but 50 per cent of the University of Manitoba’s law school graduates are women, according to figures from the Law Society of Manitoba.

The society’s equity ombudsperson, Brenlee Carrington Trepel, said that is in part due to the demands of having children.

“Between their fifth and tenth year in practice, those women frequently leave private practice because that seems to coincide with having families,” said Carrington Trepel.

Now, two groups working under the Justicia Project are looking at ways to help female and male lawyers fit parental leave into their demanding careers.

The strategies including making schedules more flexible to accommodate families.

Carrington Trepel said firms can save money by retaining experienced lawyers.

“For different forms who have lawyers and who lose those lawyers, statistics show that there’s a three times that lawyers’ loss of salary for the firm,” said Carrington Trepel.

Winnipeg’s Shandra Czarnecki is a partner at Aikins Law and a mom to two children.

Making time for family and work means she sometimes works from home.

“There’s only 24 hours in a day, and I used to work a large portion of those 24 hours,” said Czarnecki. “I can’t do that anymore.”

Czarnecki said she needs a flexible schedule to fit it all in, and she’s had to manage her own expectations.

“Will I make the same amount of money perhaps as either a woman or a man that doesn’t have children? I may not. But I knew that going in,” she said.