The Law Society of Ontario's (LSO) controversial statement of principles (SOP) could prove counterproductive, despite the good intentions behind its passage, Toronto Personal Injury and Employment Law lawyer Kevin Marshall tells Advocate Daily.com. Following a contentious vote at the LSO's Convocation last December, Ontario lawyers must adopt and abide by a personal 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."
"The real test is whether it will actually help people who have been the targets of discrimination and I don't see any evidence of that whatsoever," says Marshall. He says he suspects benchers of the profession's governing body are less concerned about the effectiveness of the measure than about the appearence that they are doing something to combat the challenges faced by racialized licensees.
"There are many conscientious employers who care deeply about these issues and help clients who are disadvantaged but may be considered offside of the latest cultural, political or social initiatives because their staff is made up of people who are not from identity groups targeted by the LSO," he says. Meanwhile, he says licensees who are acting in a genuinely discriminatory way can use the SOP as a fig leaf to cover up their misbehaviour. Read more here.