LSO Committee Proposes $250k for Grants & Equity Summit

LSO Committee Proposes $250k for Grants & Equity Summit

The Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee (EIAC) of the Law Society is seeking approval to allocate $250,000 from the 2024 contingency fund for research grants. These grants aim to support research projects focused on equity within the legal community, with results to be presented at an equity summit in 2025.

There are five to ten research projects that this funding is intending on supporting, according to the convocation report recently penned by Cara-Mari O'Hagan, executive director of policy, equity and external relations.

These projects will explore various equity-related issues within the legal profession. The findings will be discussed at a summit in May or June 2025, attended by leaders from across the legal sector.

The Law Society's mandate includes promoting diversity and eliminating barriers within the legal professions. EIAC develops policies to advance these goals, engaging with equity-seeking groups and Indigenous communities. Research is crucial for informed engagement and policy development. The proposed funding will cover different types of research, including literature reviews, consultations, and empirical studies. The $250,000 expenditure is a small fraction of the Law Society’s $153.3 million budget for 2024, with current financial reports indicating a strong fiscal position.

The New Equity Agenda

LSO is seeking to establish a new proactive equity agenda which will address gender based harassment, retention of Indigenous and racialized professionals, the impact of remote work and accessibility in the justice system.

Research Topics:

  1. Gender-Based Harassment: Investigate the prevalence and impact of harassment on women in law and explore effective reporting and remediation mechanisms.
  2. Retention of Indigenous and Racialized Professionals: Assess the success of diversity initiatives and identify barriers to advancement.
  3. Remote Work: Examine the benefits and drawbacks of remote work for legal professionals.
  4. Linguistic Rights: Explore the implications of recent court decisions on trial language rights.
  5. Disability in Legal Professions: Identify barriers faced by disabled professionals and propose necessary supports.
  6. Diversity in Paralegal Profession: Analyze the implications of higher diversity among paralegals for client representation.
  7. Status of Internationally Trained Lawyers: Investigate barriers faced by internationally trained lawyers and propose solutions.
  8. Cultural Competency in Legal Services: Define and explore the requirements for delivering culturally competent legal services.

In May of this year there is a call for research proposals. By October of 2024 LSO will have reviewed the proposals and award grants.

By May of 2025 its expected that LSO will host the equity summit, powered in part with the research conducted in that timeframe.