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Ontario law society revokes rule requiring members to commit to promoting diversity

The society voted on a requirement that lawyers create and abide by a so-called “statement of principles'' acknowledging their obligation to advocate for equality and inclusion


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TORONTO – The Law Society of Ontario has revoked a rule that required its members to spell out their commitment to promoting diversity.

In a meeting in Toronto this morning, the organization’s board of directors voted 28-20 in favour of repealing the rule, with two members abstaining and three absent.

Another motion that would have made participation voluntary failed, with 27 voting against and 23 in support.

The requirement that lawyers create and abide by a so-called “statement of principles” acknowledging their obligation to advocate for equality and inclusion had stirred debate for months.

Those opposed to the rule argued it amounted to unconstitutional, compelled speech, and was beyond the jurisdiction of the regulator.

Supporters, meanwhile, said it was a small but significant step towards eradicating systemic barriers within the profession.

The rule was adopted in 2016 after it was recommended by an internal working group on tackling systemic racism and discrimination.

 

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019

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