People with Disabilities
Creating a More Inclusive Legal Profession for People with Disabilities
The LLD believes that it has a role to play in the creation of a more inclusive legal profession for people with disabilities. In June 2014, we established the Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund. Annual scholarships will be granted to support disabled youth who are studying in law faculties across Canada. With the support of our corporations and law firms, we have each committed to give $5,000 to the Trust Fund upon its inception. Thanks to the generosity of 42 general counsel and managing partners across Canada, $210,000 has already been raised. Link
In July 2012, the Federal Government struck a Panel chaired by an LLD member (Ken Fredeen), which was formed to report on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Panel reported on its findings in January 2013, and the LLD intends to use the report as a foundation for working with others to create a more inclusive legal profession for people with disabilities. The LLD will create a working group that will include the Federal Department of Justice, LLD members and private practitioners.
Development of a More Diverse Pipeline
The LLD launched a trial mentoring program for students of diversity, at Osgoode Hall Law School, in the fall of 2012. In-house lawyers from LLD signatories are participating. We hope to expand this program across Canada.
Re: Trinity Western University law school accreditation, this matter is before the Courts to determine and the LLD is not involved in that process.
Creating a More Inclusive Profession for LGBT Lawyers and Staff
Last year the LLD hosted a group of senior gay and lesbian partners from some of Canada’s largest law firms, to discuss what barriers exist and what can be done to break these barriers down, in the legal profession. In particular the LLD was interested in knowing what General Counsel could do to create a more inclusive legal profession for LGBT lawyers. The findings were circulated across the country. As a direct consequence of this meeting a number of law firms created LGBT affinity groups and a number of LLD signatories were invited to speak on panels related to diversity and in particular the inclusion of LGBT lawyers in the legal profession.
Partnering to Create Change
The LLD recognizes the critical role that law firms have had and will have, in creating a more diverse legal profession. Members of the LLD have met with leaders and managing partners of law firms including the largest national law firms to discuss diversity initiatives within law firms and to stress the importance of actions to create a more inclusive legal profession. Members of the LLD continue to participate on nationally broadcast video casts, panels and partner meetings.
On September 20, 2012, the LLD hosted a Summit of law firm managing partners and senior lawyers to discuss the role law firms could play, in particular in establishing a working group which could tackle some of the systemic issues related to the creation of a more inclusive legal profession. The LLD will partner with this group on activities.
Law firms have also been very active in creating dialogue through the creation of panels on diversity and the like.
Some LLD members have been active in reviewing law firm diversity measures as part of their annual performance appraisals and when entering into retainers with law firms.
Finally, the LLD is creating language supporting diversity initiatives in law firms, which can be used by LLD signatories when engaging law firms.
Co-operation with Other Organizations
The success of the LLD lies in the group’s spirit of cooperation and sharing, and the power of many rather than the interests of a few. In order to look for opportunities to collaborate on various diversity initiatives, discussions have been held with many organizations including CCCA, ACC, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and the Maytree Foundation. Members of the LLD Steering Committee participated in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Judicia Project review with law firms, and later in May, 2013, a similar program in Alberta.