At Convocation on December 2, 2016, the Law Society adopted the Final Report of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group, entitled "Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions – November 2016." The Report contains 13 recommendations related to five themes: accelerating a culture shift, measuring progress, educating for change, implementing supports, and leading by example.
The Law Society Working Group on this issue was formed in 2012 to identify the challenges faced by racialized lawyers and paralegals and consider strategies for enhanced inclusion at all career stages. The OBA provided a submission on the Working Group’s previous report, a 2014 Consultation Paper. Subsequently, the Working Group released their Final Report, concluding that the challenges faced by racialized licensees are both longstanding and significant, that the Law Society must take a leadership role in bringing about lasting culture change, and that prescribing minimum standards of equality, diversity and inclusion are consistent with human rights responsibilities of the profession that are already in place.
The OBA provided a submission responding to the Final Report that recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion to the profession after seeking input from the OBA Equality Committee, Young Lawyers Divisions, Women Lawyers Forum, the Sole, Small Firm and General Practice section, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association – Ontario Chapter, and our new Student Section. Further, the submission noted the support of the OBA's members for the recommendations articulated in the Final Report as a reasonable way of moving forward to address the concerns identified. The OBA also recognized that, while moving forward is important, the Law Society should do so with the commitment to continually monitor and assess the effectiveness of measures implemented and to share that information with the profession. The OBA will continue to monitor and assess the Law Society's progress in the implementation of the recommendations.