Based on this personal experience...

Based on this personal experience, I believe that barriers to entry and advancement do in fact exist for racialized lawyers. There may be fewer barriers now than there we're when I first began practicing law in 1992 but is clear that many of these barriers still exist even today.

How I would Promote Diversity

In my opinion, the only practical way to eliminate these barriers to entry and advancement is to encourage diversity in a manner that is fair to everyone. For this reason, I don't necessarily believe in regulating a law firms diversity initiatives.

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The implementation of strict ethical rules that force diversity on the legal profession is not the answer. Even if it manages to achieve diversity, non-racialized lawyers will believe that racialized lawyers are being advanced as a result of these rules and not because of their abilities. Diversity must occur organically by raising awareness and by providing proper mentor support to racialized lawyers, especially younger sole practitioners.

Although this is a complexissue that will likely require a complex solution,the following initiatives may help topromote greaterdiversity in the legal profession:

Diversity Awareness and CPD Requirements

The recent implementation of a CPD requirement provides us withan opportunity to increase awareness of diversity issues. By requiring at least one hour ofdiversity training as part of each member's professionalism requirements, we can help to increase awareness of diversity issues and offersolutions.

Mentorship of Younger, Racialized Lawyers

I believe that there is a tendency for experienced racialized lawyers, who have managed to overcome these barriers, to forget that they should be supporting younger lawyers who are still facing these issues. The only way to ensure diversity is for these individuals to mentor younger, racialized lawyers and to give them the support that they need to compete on equal footing with non-racialized lawyers. Only then will they have the same opportunities for entry and advancement.

I have mentored younger racialized lawyers both on specific legal matters and in areas such as business development and career development. Although I have done this for younger lawyers within my firm as well, I have made a conscious effort to offer these mentoring services to sole practitioners and lawyers at other firms who might not otherwise receive this guidance.

One of the things that the LSUC should do is implement a formal mentor program for racialized lawyers. Such a program would help match younger racialized lawyers to more senior racialized lawyers (perhaps from the same ethnic group, perhaps not), who have agreed to act as mentors. This would go a long way toward ensuring better practical training and career opportunities for these younger lawyers.

To ensure that the public receives quality legal services from diverse practitioners, it should ensure that younger racialized lawyers receive proper mentoring and support so that they can become skilled practitioners. A formal mentor program for these lawyers would provide this mentoring and support.

Final Thoughts

In order for the LSUC to establish a more diverse public image and more inclusive culture in all aspects of it's operations, we also need to ensure that the leadership is representative of society. The election of more racialized benchers will help to achieve these objectives. This is one of the reasons why I have chosen to run in this years bencher election.

Although the Consultation Paper itself was limited to a discussion of racialized lawyers, I wanted to point out that barriers to entry and advancement also exist based on gender and sexual orientation. If elected, I would seek to eliminate all barriers to entry and advancement in the legal profession that are based on gender, sexual orientation, and race.

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Posted in Law Post Date 04/07/2017