Law Society releases report recommending strategies to end systemic racism in the legal professions

    September 23, 2016

    The Law Society's Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group today released a report proposing 13 recommendations to address issues of systemic racism in the legal professions.

    The report is the culmination of thorough study and province-wide consultations, showing that racialized lawyers and paralegals face longstanding and significant challenges at all stages of their legal careers.

    Forty per cent of racialized licensees identified their ethnic/racial identity as a barrier to entry to practice, while 43 per cent cited their ethnic/racial identity as a barrier to advancement.

    The 13 recommendations fall within five areas of action: accelerating a culture shift, measuring progress, educating for change, implementing supports and the operations of the Law Society.

    "The Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group's report clearly identifies significant barriers for racialized licensees. As a profession, we must address this issue. The Law Society is committed to ensuring that both the law and the practice of law are reflective of all peoples in Ontario," says Law Society Treasurer Paul Schabas. "The working group dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to this project and I commend them for their work, and thank all members of the professions and public who shared their experiences."

    Working Group Co-Chair Raj Anand notes that, "Lawyers and paralegals have a special responsibility to promote human rights in their own workplaces and in their relationships with the justice system and the public. We all have a role to play in ensuring that the professions are diverse and inclusive."

    Working Group Co-chair Janet Leiper added, "We are looking to effect culture change within the legal professions and we believe these recommendations are a much-needed step in the right direction."

    Public Input is welcome until November 14, 2016 and the Law Society's governing body is scheduled to vote on the report's proposed recommendations on December 2, 2016.

    The report is available online.

    The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for more than 50,000 lawyers and 8,000 paralegals in the province of Ontario, Canada. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

    The Law Society of Upper Canada