If you live in #Ontario #Canada and aren't a #lawyer you probably are not aware of the monumental battle going on right now in the province's legal circles. But you should be.
The Law Society of Ontario, #LSO, is the regulatory body for all lawyers and paralegals in the province. All of them: 57k lawyers, 10k paralegals. Uniquely, its one of the few provincial regulatory agencies with no government representation (why? because how can you litigate against the gov. if you're professionally regulated by it).
So they are entirely self-governing. And for the past few weeks they have been conducting their every-4-year LSO Bencher election. i.e. 20 lawyers from Toronto, 20 from outside and 5 paralegals who set the executive direction of the LSO. These are the benchers. Last day of voting is Friday.
What makes THIS bencher election so critical is that there are two cliques formed in LSO members. The BGGC or Bencher Good Governance Coalition... and the StopSOP or “Full Stop”. Or as I call them, the Good Guys (they even have Good in their title) and the Racist Sexist Homophobic Dickhole Lawyer Brigade, respectively.
Law is still a white old boys club
In 2016, following a report on LSO members, “Law Society of Upper Canada Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group Final Report” (link courtesy Ontario Bar Association), the LSO discovered (confirmed, really) that female, racialized and LGBT+ members were still facing systemic bias and disadvantage in the Ontario legal profession:
The report revealed, after extensive consultations, that “notwithstanding their increase in representation, racialized lawyers face challenges in the practice of law.” In the report, racialized legal professionals described being categorized as “unskilled employees, interpreters, social workers, students or clients.” Some professionals reported being excluded from client meetings or from working on certain cases on the basis of their personal characteristics. Some expressed concern that the dominant culture of law firms felt alienating from a racialized perspective. At one extreme, some respondents “were associated with terrorism” on the basis of their countries of origin. Notably, forty percent of racialized licensees considered their ethnic or racial identity a barrier to entering the legal profession, compared with only three percent of non-racialized licensees.
Vegan Lawyer GF has told me countless stories about white, male, usually older lawyers that make me want to start punching faces. The legal profession in Ontario, all of Canada, is still very much a old straight white dudes club. And ethnicity, gender and orientation bias is very real. LGBT+ lawyer friends of hers who aren’t already open, typically will never even talk about it at work and pretend to be straight.
What kind of profession is that to work in?
So one of the recommendations of the report was to create and adhere members to a new Statement of Principles. Something like:
As a licensee of the Law Society of Upper Canada, I stand by the following principles:
A recognition that the Law Society is committed to Inclusive legal workplaces in Ontario, a reduction of barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination and better representation of Indigenous and racialized licensees in the legal professions in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority;
My special responsibility as a member of the legal profession to protect the dignity of all individuals, and to respect human rights laws in force in Ontario;
A commitment to advance reconciliation, acknowledging that we are collectively responsible to support improved relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Ontario and Canada; and,
An acknowledgement of my obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally and in my behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.
You know. “I promise not to be a racist, sexist, (hateful)phobic dickhole”. RSHD for short.
Makes total sense. As a professional engineer I take a vow not to make or build things that, or through negligence, hurt people. Doctors and nurses take a vow not to hurt people.
But I like being a racist dickhead.
Well. The racist, sexist, hateful dickhead lawyers were having non of that. And their excuse was the old standby: telling us that we have to say this obligation out loud or in writing is compelled speech. The same bullshit excuse Jordan Asshat Peterson used when whining about having to use student’s prefered pronouns, or when the Ontario College of Pyschologists says he should probably not say hateful things about transgendered people.
And no its not compelled speech. You don’t have to say it. But neither is your continued membership in this association a Charter right. So if the the association you voluntarily maintain membership in says “yeah we should all do this” and you don’t wanna, well they’re right to kick you out.
Unfortunately it turns out there were enough anti-woke RSHD StopSOP lawyers elected to the LSO bench in 2019 that after many debates and votes, they repealed the SOP requirement.
Instead, they said LSO members are expected to state their obligation to “respect the requirements of the human rights laws in force in Ontario” every year in their annual reporting to the LSO (its a thing Ontario LSO members have to do every year to keep their license).
Problem is, that’s copy/paste (actually its checking a box on a webform). Expected... but not required to. If the need to make an explicit statement of adherence to a Standard of Practice isn’t codified in your bylaws or rules of professional conduct its not enforceable is it?
You can’t bring a complaint against your boss for making offensive sexist comments to you. “Ahah! I SAID i adhered to the SOP but if you observe carefully I did not actually
write that part down check the box in my LSO report, so I’m free to a sexist dickhead. Lol.”
How the hell did THAT come to pass, all the StopSOP idiots being elected benchers in 2019, you ask? VLGF says same reason Trump got elected President. These chuckleheads were so outlandishly racist, sexist, homophobic dickheads, noone thought they would actually win. So there wasn’t an organized campaign against them. And they won. Whups.
The StopSOP eats it this year
So, if you look at the BGGC website, one of the things you notice is that you have to go to their Vision page before there’s any mention of the EDI thing. And even then, its not explicit they’re going to bring back the Statement of Principals and its mandatory adherence. But their whole vision is “we strive to be better lawyers, better people”. Meanwhile, the StopSOP idiots are all anti-Woke, anti-SOP, and anti... well everything really. “We hate everything” Sound familiar?
Its a battle between “we want to be racist, sexist hateful dickheads” vs. “we would like NOT to be that.” Its as simple as that.
Lawyer Chris Horkins (https://twitter.com/chorkins) has been doing the good work and is digging into each one of the StopSOP bencher candidates (look how many are white dudes!).
These people are blatant assholes:
Chris is worth a follow (if you can stand Twitter these days), but here are a few of the good StopSOP bencher breakdowns:
- Kara Johnston
- Stéphane Sérafin
- Lisa Bildy (radical anti-trans
- Geoff Pollack (defended that BBQAnon whacko, lied about experience)
- Duncan J Brown
.. and his breakdown of their campaign video.
Voting results aren’t made public until voting closes, but the indications so far would indicate that the BGG Coalition is doing pretty well. They certainly have the endorsements from other Canadian legal associations:
Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA)
Canadian Defence Lawyers (CDL)
Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA)
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario (AJEFO)
Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO)
Black Female Lawyers’ Network (BFLN)
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL)
Canadian Hispanic Bar Association (CHBA)
Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (CMLA)
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (Ontario) (FACL Ontario)
Filipino Canadian Lawyers' Network
Group of Racialized (Ontario) Women Litigators (GROWL)
Huron Law Association
Mental Health Legal Committee (MHLC)
National GC Network
Korean Canadian Lawyers Association
Roundtable of Legal Diversity Associations (RODA)
Society of United Professionals (Legal Aid Ontario local)
South Asian Bar Association (SABA)
South West Region Women's Law Association (SWRWLA)
Women General Counsel Canada
Women’s Law Association of Ontario (WLAO)
Young Women in Law (YWL)
Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association
The Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers
Thats... like all of them.
Meanwhile, StopSOP has just two of note. You guessed it, Jordan Asshat Peterson:
The other is Conrad Black. lol.
The LSO Bencher isn’t getting much press, which is a shame. Except in Frank magazine (sorry, I lifted the paywalled article).
So if you’re not a lawyer or paralegal in Ontario, there’s not much you can do. But if you KNOW an Ontario lawyer or paralegal, remind them to go vote ok? Cause otherwise our province’s law society will be run for another 4 years by racist, sexist, hateful-phobic dickheads and I dunno about you but I don’t want that.
Spoiler: the BGG won this year
Update HERE – the Good Governance Coalition filled every. single. spot.
2023-04-26 – initial
2023-06-29 – update with results.