This is What a Lawyer Looks Like: Meet Deepa Mattoo

  • February 24, 2020
  • Nabila Khan, Section Newsletter Editor

The face of law is changing. According to the Law Society of Ontario, about 43 per cent of lawyers are women. And the final report released in 2016 from the Law Society’s Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group noted that the proportion of racialized lawyers in Ontario doubled between 2001 and 2014, from 9 per cent to 18 per cent. In an effort to highlight the diverse range of individuals working across the legal landscape, we are pleased to present our new series, This is What a Lawyer Looks Like. The goal of this series is to put racialized and Indigenous women lawyers in the spotlight and amplify their voices in the conversation about gender equality.

Do you know someone we can feature? Send a note to the editor. 


Executive Director, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

Adjunct and Visiting Faculty, University of Toronto Faculty of Law




Tell us about yourself.

I am the Executive Director at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Adjunct and Visiting Faculty at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. In my role at the Schlifer Clinic, I oversee the Clinic's strategic direction and provide leadership to the legal, counselling and interpretation services. I am also directly involved in three critical projects related to the criminalization of women and the risk assessment of gender-based violence. Before joining the Schlifer Clinic, I was Project Co-ordinator, Staff Lawyer and Executive Director at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. 

Why did you choose to become a lawyer?

I am a first-generation immigrant to Canada. I grew up in India, and it was my childhood dream to become a lawyer. I went to law school right after high school through a competitive exam for a five-year program. After practicing for four years in New Delhi, India, I did my MBA in the United Kingdom and came to Canada in 2004, and after working within the clinic system, I became cross-qualified as a lawyer in Canada. 

What is your favourite part about being a lawyer?

I have always been interested in client advocacy for self-determination of rights and law reform. Engaging with law reform and advocacy is my favourite part of the work. 

What is something interesting you are working on now?

I am supervising several interesting projects this year, including the development of a risk assessment tool for women who have survived violence. Equally interesting is the management of the high-risk cases associated with the projects we are undertaking. We are involved in the 64th session of the Commission of the Status of Women meetings in New York for the Beijing25+ platform, which I find exciting.