Making the case for diversity
A sneak peak at the upcoming report, Towards a More Diverse Legal Profession: Better practices, better workplaces, better results
Towards a More Diverse Legal Profession: Better practices, better workplaces, better results provides both data illustrating the current demographics of the legal profession in BC and the case for promoting and encouraging diversity within law firms.
Responding to a changing society
The data indicates that, even though society is becoming increasingly diverse, the legal profession does not reflect that. For example, in 2006 the visible minority population in Vancouver was 42%. By 2031, that percentage is projected to reach 59%. The percentage of visible minority lawyers in Vancouver is 18%.
Law firms are encouraged to consider the business imperatives for diversity, in order to:
- meet client demands for diversity in legal representation;
- better serve an increasingly diverse society; and
- attract, retain and advance the best and brightest lawyers, particularly young lawyers from a generation with expectations of equality.
Firms competing for corporate clients are increasingly expected to demonstrate their commitment to diversity. A recent example is “Legal Leaders for Diversity: A Statement of Support for Diversity and Inclusion by General Counsel in Canada,” which was introduced in May 2011 by Canada’s general counsel community. Nearly 60 general counsel, including from large companies such as DuPont, Bell and RBC, have committed to practising and advancing diversity and inclusion by:
- promoting diversity within their own departments;
- considering diversity in their hiring and purchasing practices; and
- encouraging Canadian law firms to follow their examples, among other actions.
Facing the challenges in firms
Towards a More Diverse Legal Profession highlights challenges that could be preventing diversity from flourishing within law firms. It suggests the following strategies to create a more welcoming work environment:
- raising awareness of and correcting unconscious bias;
- developing bias-free performance evaluations;
- developing equitable systems for assigning work;
- promoting flexibility; and
- encouraging mentorship.
The report concludes by recognizing there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that the Law Society, law firms and lawyers need to work together to create effective solutions to enhance diversity in the profession.
Watch for the full report, available soon at lawsociety.bc.ca.