The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, Ontario (FACL Ontario) is deeply concerned about the motion being brought on February 27, 2020 by two Law Society of Ontario (“LSO”) Benchers to exclude equity partners from consulting with the LSO’s Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee (the “EIAC”). This is directly contrary to the mandate of EIAC, which requires EIAC to consult with Indigenous, Francophone and other equality-seeking communities in the development of policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession (See the Committee’s mandate at By-law 3.)
Benchers are elected to serve the public interest. As the Supreme Court of Canada has explained, this includes the pursuit of a more inclusive and diverse bar (Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University). This goal cannot be achieved if Convocation shuts out the voices of racialized lawyers. EIAC’s very purpose demands the participation of equity groups like FACL Ontario in its work.
We are additionally concerned that this motion to shut out EIAC’s equity partners was brought on short notice, without giving equity groups an opportunity to contribute to the discussion or voice their opposition. It is imperative that the LSO carefully consider the views of its equity partners before making any changes to the current process. We accordingly urge Convocation to reject this motion.