In 2016, the Law Society of Ontario (“LSO”) adopted the report of the Challenges Facing Racialized Licensees Working Group. That report identified a number of steps that the LSO needed to take in order to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (“EDI”). One of those steps was requiring every licensee (every lawyer and paralegal) to adopt a personal, confidential ‘Statement of Principles.’
That Statement of Principles requirement has now become a flashpoint that has divided the professions. A slate of Benchers (‘Directors’ of the Law Society) was elected on a promise to repeal the Statement of Principles. Many lawyers and paralegals are concerned that when they’re done with the Statement of Principles, the rest of the EDI initiatives will soon follow.
What are we doing about it?
On June 27th, Convocation (the ‘Board of Directors’ of the Law Society of Ontario) debated the Statement of Principles for 8 hours, and pro-SOP benchers were able to ensure it has not yet been repealed.
Despite a majority of all benchers voting to amend the original repeal resolution to instead make the main question about whether the SOP should be optional, rather than whether it should be repealed, the StopSOP slate withdrew the amended motion, leaving the status quo in place - for now.
There will likely be a special meeting of Convocation in July. Check back frequently for updates.