Compelling Story Makes Case For Law Society Reform

On Saturday November 4, 2017, Haidya Roderique, a Black woman and former Bay Street lawyer-turned Ph.D. candidate, authored a powerful and poignant essay, entitled, “Black on Bay Street: Hadiya Roderique had it all. But still could not fit in. The essay was featured on the front page of The Globe and Mail, and exposes the persistent lack of diversity on Bay Street, and highlights the challenges many racialized minorities feel as applicants and young professionals while they try to enter or thrive within a Canadian corporate culture. To read more about “Black on Bay Street” click here. To listen to the CBC’s Metro Morning “A discussion about race and fit on Bay Street” with Roderique and Julian Falconer, hosted by Matt Galloway click here.

On November 6, 2017, The Law Society of Ontario released an updated Statement of Principles, which, according to the Law Society, can be used to provide licensees with a guide as to what might be included in a personal statement of principles.

The newly presented template Statements of Principle express a commitment to the following:

  • A recognition that the Law Society is committed to Inclusive legal workplaces in Ontario, a reduction of barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination and better representation of Indigenous and racialized licensees in the legal professions in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority;
  • My special responsibility as a member of the legal profession to protect the dignity of all individuals, and to respect human rights laws in force in Ontario;
  • A commitment to advance reconciliation, acknowledging that we are collectively responsible to support improved relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Ontario and Canada; and,
  • An acknowledgement of my obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally and in my behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.

The LSUC’s adoption of the Statement of Principles is part of a long-term and ongoing effort by the Law Society to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the profession. In December 2016, Julian Falconer, Bencher and Vice-Chair of The Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group, presented a motion that Convocation approve the thirteen recommendations outlined in the Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions report.”. The motion has been approved and adopted by the Law Society.

On November 7, 2017, the Toronto Star reported, the requirement meant to help combat systemic racism in the legal profession is facing major push-back… and the growing opposition to the statement of principles is distressing, as Julian Falconer points to stories that continue to be shared of racialized lawyers and paralegals facing barriers in their profession.

“What I fear from this inexplicable navel-gazing and wordsmithing is that it’s undermining the confidence and trust we were finally starting to build,” Falconer told the Star, speaking generally, not specifically, on the action before the court.

To read more about The Law Society of Ontario’s new Statement of Principles click here.

In the News

Black on Bay Street: Hadiya Roderique had it all. But still could not fit in   The Globe and Mail, November 4, 2017

Part of Law Society’s plan to address racism challenged in court   Toronto Star, November 7, 2017

Related Post & Documents

Black on Bay Street: Addressing Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions

Statement of Principles

Working Together for Change – Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions

Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group

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