- Ontario Lt. Gov. David Onley endorses general counsel initiative
|Rajeev Sharma, vice president and general counsel at Ricoh Canada Inc., signs the Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusiveness initiative. Photo: Andi Balla|
Nearly 60 per cent of the youngest lawyers in Ontario are women, a significant demographic shift driven in large part by the increasing number of "racialized" women entering the profession, according to a report released by the Law Society of Upper Canada last week.
Law societies regulate the profession in the public interest. As such, is it up to the provincial law societies to be involved in improving and promoting diversity in the profession? If governing in the public interest means ensuring not only high standards of competence and learning but also ensuring the practice of law and provision of legal services are reflective of the all members of the public, then yes.
The government of Canada’s legal agent program — wherein you’re a lawyer or law firm and do work for the federal government — clearly states that all service providers must have workplace equity programs in place.
The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is an old adage for a reason — it’s mostly true. In a profession like the law where personal relationships are frequently the building blocks of success, it couldn’t be more true.
Djawid Taheri doesn’t want to turn clients away, even if they can’t afford to pay his fees. As an immigrant from Afghanistan and a prominent member of the Toronto Afghan community, he feels compelled to respond to the needs of people who don’t speak English or understand the Canadian legal system and could probably not find anyone else to help them. Yet, even though Taheri maintains that “money isn’t everything,” he does acknowledge he also has to make a living out of his solo law practice.
Picture this: British Columbia, 1984. A 24-year-old woman is the first black person in 20 years to earn her law degree from the University of British Columbia. She finds an articling position at a small local firm.