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Frequently Asked Questions

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  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • CPD Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Requirement
    For Frequently Asked Questions, see the Continuing Professional Development webpage
  • Statement of Principles
    You can find more information regarding Statement of Principles below.
  • 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
        You will find information to determine how this requirement applies to you below.
         
        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
      • For licensees in legal workplaces of 10 or more licensees where the employer is a non-licensee
      • For licensees in legal workplaces of 9 or fewer licensees