Ontario lawyers agree to tackle systemic racism in the profession
“Overt discrimination and bias are a feature of daily life,” the group found. “Racialization is a constant and persistent factor.”
Larger law firms would be expected to work toward racial diversification and have to report out on their progress under recommendations approved without opposition Friday by the profession’s regulatory body in Ontario following hours of emotional debate.
In addition, the Law Society of Upper Canada will look to put measures in place to ensure legal workplaces do more to combat systemic racism and discrimination in their ranks, its governing body decided.
The recommendations — 13 in all — flowed from a working group that looked at the career obstacles black and other visible minority lawyers face. The group, set up in 2012, spent the last few years coming up with its report based on consultations and submissions from around the province.
Raj Anand, co-chairman of the group, who said he’s been the subject of racial slurs, called it gratifying the law society approved the report.
“There is a serious problem that needs to be addressed,” Anand said.
“We now can move forward to implement these important recommendations, which reinforce the special responsibility of lawyers and paralegals to promote human rights in their own workplaces — and in their relationships with the justice system and the public.”