OBA Releases Report on Lack of Diversity in Mediation and Arbitration in Ontario

  • March 29, 2022

Association Launching Educational Sessions to Promote Solutions

The Ontario Bar Association’s Working Group on Neutral Diversity has released a report examining diversity in alternative dispute resolution settings and proposing recommendations about how it can be improved in Ontario.

Efforts to increase diversity in arbitration and mediation have been ongoing in other countries, but the issue has largely gone unaddressed in Ontario. This report – which has been shared with government officials, OBA diversity partners and relevant stakeholders – examines the efforts in other jurisdictions to increase neutral diversity, and sets out new data highlighting the lack of improvement in the province.

“This report is important because it demonstrates the reality that mediators and arbitrators often do not reflect the populations they serve, and it shines a light on an issue that many in the profession haven’t thought about before,” says Ranjan Agarwal, 1st vice-president of the OBA and chair of the OBA’s equality committee. “It not only considers the importance of neutral diversity, but also focuses on the ‘how’ by outlining steps lawyers, law firms, in-house counsel, experienced Neutrals, law associations, government bodies and ADR providers can take to increase both the supply of and demand for neutral diversity.”

“Diversity not only builds a stronger and more inclusive legal profession, but it also improves client experiences with the legal system, and improves the effectiveness of outcomes,” says OBA President Karen Perron. “No matter where you live or practice in the province, diversity of perspectives is critical to adding value to any legal service provider.”

As part of the report’s release and recommendations, the OBA will integrate a series of educational sessions throughout upcoming professional development offerings – across practice areas and across the province – to champion the solutions outlined in the report.

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About the Ontario Bar Association

Established in 1907, the OBA is the largest voluntary legal association in Ontario representing over 16,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. The OBA provides continuing professional development and advocates for improvements to the law in the interests of the profession and public.

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