In September 2017 the Law Society of Ontario introduced changes to the continuing professional development requirements for lawyers (and paralegals), based on recommendations in the Final Report on the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group.
The LSO now requires the completion, between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020, of at least 3 Professionalism Hours that focus on advancing equality and inclusion in the legal profession. For each following year only 1 equality and inclusion hour must be completed. These hours also count toward the general CPD hours requirement.
This new requirement was implemented as part of the LSO’s ongoing “commitment to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and address barriers faced by racialized licensees”.
The LSO has adopted a “flexible and iterative approach” to the equality and inclusion professionalism hours and have outlined three objectives 1) inclusive legal workplaces in Ontario; 2) reduction of barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination; and 3) better representation of racialized licensees, in proportion to the representation in the Ontario population, in the professions, in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority. Programs that advance equality and inclusion or support these objectives will qualify for equality and inclusion professionalism hours.
How will lawyers know if a program is accredited for these new professionalism hours? You will see the new logo on the program marketing materials and agendas.
For more information on this new CPD requirement, please see Frequently Asked Questions about the CPD Equality and Inclusion Requirement.
3 hours over the next 3 years, does not seem like an onerous commitment at all and hopefully all lawyers and paralegals can quickly and happily fulfill this requirement. We look forward to some educational and interesting programs!
Erin's article Ending the Gender Pay Gap in Law was recently published in the Women in Law Issue of the ABA's Law Practice Today digital publication.
The articles discusses the current disparity in remuneration between the genders and steps firms can take to end the gender pay gap.
The full article can be found here.
The Professional Development and Competence Committee of the Law Society of Ontario commissioned a survey to research the experiences of articling students as part of its licensing process review. The survey was aimed at lawyers who had completed their articles between 2014 and 2017. A summary of the results was recently released.
The Law Society reported that while the survey was undertaken as part of the review of the licensing process, one section of the survey related to sexual harassment and racial and gender discrimination. The Law Society decided to make the report public to “add to the current conversations around harassment and discrimination, and to help facilitate a wider discussion and champion a necessary culture shift”.
One of the questions asked was: “At any time in your articling process, do you feel that you faced any comments or conduct related to your age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, sex and/or sexual orientation that was unwelcome?”
21% of the 1471 respondents of the survey answered “Yes”.
When asked: “At any time in your articling process, do you feel that you faced any unequal or differential treatment related to your age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, sex and/or sexual orientation?”
17% of the respondents answered “Yes”.
These numbers are not insignificant.
Other information in the survey revealed that while most of the respondents were paid above $40,000.00 (36% were paid between $40-60K and 32% were paid more than $60k) there are still articling students who are paid nothing (4%) or who are paid less than $20k (8%) for their articles. With 64% of the respondents indicating that they articled in costly Toronto or the GTA, it is hard to imagine how they can survive financially on no income or less than $20k.
A summary of the survey results can be found here.
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