You are now in the main content area

Legal Practice and Equity: A Conversation with the Bar, the Bench and Faculties of Law

November 02, 2019
8:30 AM EDT - 5:30 PM EDT
Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management, 7th floor
Open To
Lawyers, judges, academics, EDI professionals, students

A Unique Opportunity to Explore EDI in Various Legal Settings

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) have become a central concern in the legal profession, including the judiciary. At the same time, law schools are striving to offer JD programs that appeal to the full spectrum of Canadian society and expose their law students to the diverse needs and perspectives of different Canadian communities. Furthermore, wide-ranging recruitment efforts, first by law schools as they attract incoming cohorts of students, and then professional employers who hire new graduates, act as a key step in advancing EDI goals. As it prepares for its first incoming class in 2020, the Ryerson Faculty of Law has set out a strong commitment to EDI. Given this commitment, it is collaborating with a range of legal associations on a one-day conference on the role of EDI in interconnected settings and various professional contexts. To be held at Ryerson University in Toronto, the conference will welcome 150 lawyers, judges, academics and equity officers from across the country.

Professionalism Hours Accredited

This program contains 6 hours of Professionalism Content from the Law Society of Ontario.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Alexandra Orlova
  • Andre Bacchus
  • Anver Saloojee
  • Arleen Huggins
  • Justice Aston Hall
  • Balpreet Singh
  • Charlene Theodore
  • Justice Cynthia Petersen
  • Emily Lam
  • Faisal Mirza
  • Justice George Strathy
  • Grace Chau
  • Justice Harry LaForme
  • Jerome Poon-Ting
  • Jillian Rogin
  • Julia Shin Doi
  • Julian Falconer
  • Kathy Lahey
  • Lori Anne Thomas
  • Justice Lorne Sossin
  • Mary Condon
  • Justice Michael Tulloch
  • Mitch Frazer
  • Nana Yanful
  • Nikki Gershbain
  • Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell
  • Pnina Alon-Shenker
  • Poonam Puri
  • Renu Mandhane
  • Justice Rita Maxwell
  • Roberta Jamieson
  • Shalini Konanuar
  • Justice Shaun Nakatsuru
  • Shawn Richard
  • Sujith Xavier
  • Tzen-Yi Goh

Conference themes

Equity and advocacy

More than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada released its reasons in the case of R. v. S. (R.D.). Although divided, the Court confirmed that the requirement for a judge to be neutral does not require judges to discount their life experiences. What role should a judge’s particular life experience play when interpreting facts and the law? How can the knowledge and perspective of judges about the experience of marginalized persons be improved on a continuing basis? What types of education and outreach will promote better understanding?

Access to social justice

Although their histories and the barriers they face are markedly different, Black, First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities all find themselves overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Moreover, children from these groups are heavily overrepresented in child welfare systems across Canada. The causes of such overrepresentation for each of these groups are complex and systemic and should be part of the essential contextual matrix that a court must understand to arrive at a just decision. But for these factors to be considered they must be put before the court. What obligations do lawyers have to explore and advance arguments addressing racism, sexism and other issues where relevant? What obligations do judges have to consider the issues and arguments?

JD curriculum

The bulk of EDI-related education as it involves the profession in future years will come from the curriculum found in JD programs. Should law schools across Ontario and the country undertake a range of initiatives to ensure that EDI-focused content is part of the core curriculum mandatory for all students? What are the main features and objectives of these initiatives? What core curriculum content historically has had gaps or omissions? How can law schools measure the effectiveness of EDI content? Law school representatives – administrators, faculty and students – will present their insights.

Recruitment into law schools and professional employment

Considerable evidence exists on the extent to which law schools and employers are succeeding in extending the diversity of the profession through EDI-related efforts. Academic administrators and recruitment officers from various employers will elaborate on where these efforts stand, as evidenced by the diversity of student enrolments and new hires within the province. What additional programs or strategies can be made to improve diversity?

Conference program



8:00 am – 9:00 am


8:30 am – 9:30 am

Breakfast & Opening Remarks

9:45am – 10:45 am

Panel I: A Conversation with the Bar, the Bench and Faculties of Law
(One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)

11:00 am – 12:00 pm


Two parallel breakout sessions:

  1. Equity and Advocacy
    (One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)
  2. Access to Social Justice
    (One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm

Lunch & Keynote Speaker

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Panel II: Education and the Profession
(One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)

3:15 pm – 4:15 pm

Two parallel breakout sessions:

  1. EDI in Law School Curricula
    (One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)
  2. Recruitment into Universities
    (One hour approved EDI Professionalism Hours)

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Closing plenary

Sponsored by

If you would like to support this event, please PDF fileview our sponsorship package

Lead sponsor

Mccarthy tetrault logo


Blakes logo
Lenkinski logo

Organizational Supporters

Criminal Lawyers Association Logo

Endorsed by

CABL logo
Canadian Hispanic Bar Association Logo
Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association logo
Egale logo
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers logo
First Generation Network logo
Indspire logo
Ontario Bar Association logo
Roda Logo
South Asian Bar Association of Toronto Logo
The 519 logo


Sara Berman

Interim Director, Ryerson International

MaryClaire Brooks

Director of Development, University Advancement