|For immediate release||November 21, 2011|
Mentoring project aimed at helping to retain more Aboriginal lawyers
Vancouver – The Law Society is undertaking a mentoring initiative to help retain Aboriginal lawyers in BC, improve access to legal services for Aboriginal peoples, and increase diversity within the legal profession.
Currently, Aboriginal lawyers are significantly underrepresented in the legal profession and this has important implications regarding access to culturally appropriate legal services. In addition, the public is best served by a more representative and inclusive profession.
“We are very concerned about the current situation and that’s why we are taking immediate action with this program,” said Law Society President Gavin Hume, QC.
The Society has hired lawyer Rosalie Wilson to develop a collaborative mentoring program to support Aboriginal lawyers. She is a member of the Syilx (Okanagan) and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nations. “I believe it’s in the public interest to have strong Aboriginal representation among lawyers,” said Wilson.
“Increasingly what was once thought of as Aboriginal issues are becoming issues the whole community cares about. An example of this is the missing women’s inquiry. As a First Nations person, as a lawyer, and as a member of the public in BC, I have a direct interest in the initiatives undertaken by the Law Society to increase retention rates of Aboriginal lawyers. I am looking forward to beginning this position. It is such a positive undertaking and I am happy to be a part of it.”
Wilson will consult with Aboriginal lawyers to develop effective mentoring options, models and best practices. This phase is fully funded by a Law Foundation of British Columbia grant, for which the Law Society is greatly appreciative.
The Law Society’s Board of Governors, called Benchers, identified the retention of Aboriginal lawyers as one of the key objectives in the current strategic plan and this is one initiative aimed at supporting that objective. Phase two of the project will entail program development, implementation and evaluation and is expected to begin in May, 2012.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
For further information or to arrange an interview contact: