Frequently Asked Questions

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General

What is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative?

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiative comprises strategies that the Law Society is implementing to address racism and discrimination in the professions. See Overview.

What is the goal of this initiative?

The Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group found that racialized lawyers and paralegals face barriers at all stages of their careers. The goal of these strategies is to break down these barriers. The main objectives are to:

  • Create more inclusive legal workplaces in Ontario
  • Reduce barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination
  • Increase representation of racialized licensees in the professions, in proportion to the representation in the Ontario population, in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority.
 

Why do the strategies include regulatory obligations?

The Law Society believes that requiring licensees to make a clear commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will encourage lawyers and paralegals to consider their individual roles in creating lasting change.

What are my obligations?

The strategies include certain regulatory obligations that are being implemented in stages. See What You Need to Know and Do

Statement of Principles

What is the purpose of a statement of principles?

The intention of the statement of principles is to demonstrate a personal valuing of equality, diversity and inclusion in your practice and in your legal workplace.

What exactly is the requirement for a statement of principles?

See the Statement of Principles page for more information and sample statements.

Does my statement need to be in writing?

Yes.

Is there a prescribed form for a statement of principles?

No. Licensees may take a number of approaches. See the Statement of Principles page for more information and sample statements

Does the Law Society have sample of statements of principles?

Yes. Please see these Statement of Principles Resources for samples and other resources

Will I be suspended or otherwise penalized if I don’t have a statement of principles?

The Law Society will ask licensees to report on their compliance with this requirement in their 2017 report. Licensees who report non-compliance in the 2017 Annual Report will be advised of their obligations in writing

I am not practising law or providing legal services; do I still need to have a Statement of Principles?

All licensees are required to adopt and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour toward colleagues, employees, clients and the public. As with all Law Society obligations, licensees must satisfy themselves that they have complied.

There is a definition of licensee in subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act. ‘Licensee’ includes anyone who is licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario.

If you are licensed by the Law Society, you must meet this requirement regardless of whether you are currently practising law or providing legal services.

I am retired; do I still need to have a Statement of Principles?

All licensees are required to adopt and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour toward colleagues, employees, clients and the public. As with all Law Society obligations, licensees must satisfy themselves that they have complied.

There is a definition of licensee in subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act. ‘Licensee’ includes anyone who is licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario.

If you are licensed by the Law Society, you must meet the requirement for a Statement of Principles regardless of whether you are currently practising law or providing legal services.

I work outside of Ontario; do I still need to have a Statement of Principles?

All licensees are required to adopt and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour toward colleagues, employees, clients and the public. As with all Law Society obligations, licensees must satisfy themselves that they have complied.

There is a definition of licensee in subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act. ‘Licensee’ includes anyone who is licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario.

If you are licensed by the Law Society, you must meet the requirement for a Statement of Principles regardless of the location of your place of work.

My licence is in abeyance; do I need to meet the requirement for a Statement of Principles?

No. Those whose licence is in abeyance under section 31 of the Law Society Act do not need to meet the requirement for a Statement of Principles.

Human Rights and Diversity Policy

What exactly are the requirements for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy?

The policy must address, at the very least, fair recruitment, retention and advancement. See the Human Rights and Diversity Policy page  for more information about content and sample policies.

Does the Law Society have sample policies or other resources?

Yes. Please see these Human Rights and Diversity Page  for samples and other resources.

Does the policy have to be exactly like the examples provided?

No. You must satisfy yourself that you are meeting the requirement. The Law Society’s resources and templates  are provided to assist you and provide guidance.

Why is the Law Society implementing this as a regulatory requirement?

The Law Society concluded that required minimum standards of equality, diversity and inclusion, will reinforce the human rights responsibilities of licensees – obligations already required by the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and, more generally, the Human Rights Code.

To determine how this requirement applies to you  

How do I know if I need to have a Human Rights and Diversity Policy?

See the Human Rights and Diversity page for information on how this requirement applies to you. See also additional FAQs below.

 

What is the definition of a legal workplace?

A place of work in Ontario where legal work is being done, such as providing legal advice, guidance or opinions.

 

How do I determine if someone is a licensee?

There is a definition in subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act and most licensees are listed in the Law Society’s Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. For the purposes of your obligations relating to these strategies, include people who are licensees but are not working in a legal capacity, licensees whose licence is suspended and licensees on leave. You do not need to include Judges, as their licence is in abeyance as a result of subsection 31(1) of the Law Society Act.

 

What does it mean to be employed by a non-licensee?

For the purposes of this requirement, your employer is the individual or entity that pays your salary. For example, crown attorneys and in-house counsel are employed by non-licensees.

 

I have more than one employer. How does this requirement apply to me?

Licensees who have multiple places of work should include themselves in the setting where there are 10 or more licensees, if there is one. If none of the legal workplaces include 10 or more licensees then the Human Rights and Diversity Policy Requirement does not apply.

 

I work on a contract basis with a number of different employers. How does the requirement apply to me?

You should familiarize yourself with the requirement and its intent, and take appropriate steps to satisfy yourself that you are meeting the requirement. Licensees who have multiple places of work should include themselves in the setting where there are 10 or more licensees, if there is one. If none of the legal workplaces include 10 or more licensees then the Human Rights and Diversity Policy requirement does not apply.

 

I work in the legal department of a large, multi-national organization. How do I determine if my employer is a licensee?

For the purposes of this requirement, your employer is the individual or entity that pays your salary.

 

I work outside of Ontario; do I still need to meet the requirement for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy?

No. This requirement applies only to those in legal workplaces of at least 10 licensees in Ontario.

 

I am not practising law or providing legal services; do I still need to meet the requirement for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy?

All licensees in legal workplaces in Ontario of at least 10 licensees must meet the requirement for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy. As with all Law Society obligations, licensees must satisfy themselves that they have complied.

There is a definition of licensee in subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act. ‘Licensee’ includes anyone who is licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario.

If you are licensed by the Law Society and are working in a legal workplace in Ontario with at least 10 licensees, you must meet this requirement regardless of whether you are currently practising law or providing legal services.

 

My licence is in abeyance; do I need to meet the requirement for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy?

No. Those whose licence is in abeyance under section 31 of the Law Society Act do not need to meet the requirement for a Human Rights and Diversity Policy.

 

How do I determine how many licensees are in my legal workplace?

All licensees should be included when determining if there are 10 or more licensees in your legal workplace. You can make inquiries and use the Lawyer and Paralegal Directory to determine if someone is a licensee.

 

What if I had no idea someone was a licensee so I didn’t know to check?

Licensees should determine if there are 10 or more licensees in their legal workplace to the best of their knowledge.

 

For licensees in legal workplaces of 10 or more licensees where the employer is a licensee  

What is the definition of a designated licensee representative? How is one selected?

Licensees at a legal workplace of 10 or more licensees may select any lawyer or paralegal at the workplace licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to be the appointed representative.

 

What are my responsibilities as the appointed representative?

The appointed representative will report in their 2017 Annual Report on the development, implementation and maintenance of their workplace Human Rights/Diversity Policy. The other licensees in the workplace will be required to identify the appointed licensee in their annual report.

 

How will the reporting on the LAR/PAR work?

The mechanism for reporting will be similar to the existing process for reporting financial information. The licensee representative should obtain the Law Society Numbers for all licensees included in the report. Licensees who are not the designated licensee representative should obtain the Law Society Number of the designated representative to simplify the reporting process.

 

Does the designated licensee representative for these obligations have to be the same licensee that reports the financial information for a legal firm?

No. You can choose the same licensee or a different licensee to report the information required.

 

As the appointed representative, am I subject to any regulatory actions? Do I take on any additional risk?

There is no additional risk. Any licensee at a legal workplace of 10 or more licensees where the designated licensee representative reports non-compliance with this requirement in their 2017 Annual Report will be advised of their obligations in writing.

 

What happens to me if my workplace is found not to be compliant, but I am not the licensee representative?

Any licensee at a legal workplace of 10 or more licensees where the designated licensee representative reports non-compliance with this requirement in their 2017 Annual Report will be advised of their obligations in writing.

 

For licensees in legal workplaces of 10 or more licensees where the employer is a non-licensee  

My employer is a not a lawyer or paralegal and I have no control over the policies of the workplace. How can I meet this requirement?

Licensees employed by a non-licensee employer should make inquiries to determine if a Human Rights/Diversity Policy exists and use their best judgement to determine whether it is in keeping with the requirements in the strategies. In the 2017 Annual Report, licensees in legal workplaces with 10 or more licensees, whose employer is a non-licensee and does not have an appropriate policy, will be asked to acknowledge their individual obligation to have a Human Rights/Diversity Policy that is implemented and maintained, and that addresses fair recruitment, retention and advancement in the legal workplace.

 

I have no control over the policies of my workplace. How can I implement and maintain a Human Rights/Diversity policy?

As a licensee, you have an individual obligation to have a Human Rights/Diversity Policy that addresses at least fair recruitment, retention and advancement in the legal workplace. You can use the resources  provided by the Law Society to develop a policy and look for opportunities to address fair recruitment, retention and advancement in the legal workplace.

 

Does this mean I need to have a written policy?

Yes.  Licensees in legal workplaces of 10 or more, who report to a non-licensee and whose workplace does not have a policy that meets the Law Society’s requirements must have a written policy that addresses, at least, fair recruitment, retention and advancement. The Law Society has developed resources to assist you in developing this policy.

 

What happens to me if I do not comply with this requirement?

Any licensee at a legal workplace of 10 or more licensees who reports non-compliance with this requirement in their 2017 Annual Report will be advised of their obligations in writing.

 

For licensees in legal workplaces of 9 or fewer licensees  

I am in a legal workplace with 9 or fewer licensees. Should I still have a Human Rights/Diversity Policy?

The Human Rights Diversity Policy requirement does not apply to licensees in legal workplaces with 9 or fewer licensees. Licensees in these workplaces are encouraged to review the resources provided and develop a Human Rights/Diversity Policy, but they will not report it on their annual report.