June 04, 2020

In the days since I made a statement regarding the disturbing rise in anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, communities across the United States, in Canada, and elsewhere in the world have rallied to take a united stand against racism. The Law Society acknowledges the frustration, profound sorrow and, in some instances, outrage experienced by many, but especially of those Black, Indigenous and racialized people who face the effects of racism, intolerance, systemic discrimination and unconscious bias in their daily lives.

As members of the legal profession, we enjoy certain power and privileges that correspondingly invoke a responsibility to address hardships and inequality. We take an oath to uphold the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of all persons. As gatekeepers to the justice system, we must never lose sight of the fact that our justice institutions exist for the public whose interests we serve. We must be vigilant in our commitment to protect people who encounter unequal treatment and institutional biases because of their individual characteristics. We must find ways to build and maintain public confidence in the administration of justice, ensuring we stay true to our oath.

As we add our voices to the many who stand in protest, we must also continue to take a hard look at our institutions and our actions to ensure we are doing all we can to reduce and eradicate racial injustice. Within the Law Society, our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee works to identify issues and recommend meaningful change both within the Law Society and the profession at large. One of the tools by which it measures the demographics and level of diversity within our profession is a survey contained within the annual practice declaration. We encourage all lawyers to complete the survey as one small, but significant action that can be taken to move the dialogue forward, to ensure that the Law Society and its lawyers instigate and demand change to build a more just society, and to ensure our actions, as regulator, are responsive to the needs of our lawyers and the public we serve.