September 30, 2020
Orange Shirt Day
Today the Law Society of Alberta joins alongside schools, organizations and communities in participating in Orange Shirt Day.

"The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on."

Learn more about the Phyllis (Jack) Webstad Orange Shirt Day story and how you can participate.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Update
The Law Society of Alberta stands against racism and all forms of discrimination. Lawyers, students and members of the public all deserve equal opportunities and fair treatment as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately, we know this is not the reality faced by many in the legal profession. The Law Society has an important role in identifying and addressing issues of racism and discrimination within our regulatory mandate. At the Law Society, we are committed to supporting equity and inclusion in the legal profession and working to ensure that our own processes do not create inequity.  

We support lawyers and students pursuing changes that result in equitable treatment. We are seeking opportunities to partner with underrepresented communities in the legal profession to work toward positive change in our profession and in the delivery of legal services. As an example of this work, we are launching a project to collect the experiences of Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour (BIPOC) in the legal profession so we can listen, learn and identify areas for change within our regulatory mandate. Further details on this project are shared below. 

In addition, over the last number of years, the Law Society has been working on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues. Importantly, this work resulted in our articling survey in 2019, which revealed the prevalence of discrimination and harassment experienced during recruitment and articling in Alberta’s legal profession. We recognize that we are in the early stages of modernizing an approach of identifying and addressing harassment, discrimination and other EDI issues, and we look forward to working with the profession on this important topic. 

We have built some key foundations to help us in this important work. In 2019, the Benchers established the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Lawyer Competence Committee. Some of the initiatives we have already undertaken include:

  • creating the role of Indigenous Initiatives Liaison in 2017;
  • creating a part-time membership status pilot (with half of the full-time membership fee) for lawyers in private practice in 2019; 
  • launching a Respectful Workplace Model Policy in October 2019;
  • making EDI & Lawyer Competence two of the four pillars of our Strategic Plan for 2020 - 2024;
  • working with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to revise and bolster the discrimination and harassment provisions in the Code of Conduct;
  • developing an online process for safe reporting of discrimination and harassment to the Law Society, with plans for further refinements to this process;
  • exploring mandatory training for principals, which would include discrimination and harassment and equity training;
  • exploring a placement program for articling students experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace; and
  • developing Indigenous Cultural Competence Training for lawyers as part of the revised Continuing Professional Development program.

In addition, the Benchers, recognizing that wider views would help inform their decision-making, established three Advisory Committees comprised of Alberta lawyers that bring different perspectives to our organization, as follows: the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, the Indigenous Advisory Committee and the Lawyer Competence Advisory Committee. These Committees started their work on EDI and competence initiatives to address issues brought to light by both the articling survey results and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
We will continue to work alongside our Advisory Committees and solicit input from the profession on how we can better fulfill our mandate to protect the public interest through our support of all lawyers and students facing these issues. 
"My Experience" Project
Over the past few months, issues of systemic racism and discrimination affecting BIPOC communities have been highlighted in Canada and around the world. In response, the Law Society is adopting a listen, learn and act approach to issues of racism and discrimination within the legal profession, specifically as it relates to our regulatory mandate. We want to hear about the experiences of those impacted by racism and discrimination in Alberta’s legal community. From there, we can learn about where we, as the regulator of the legal profession, can make a difference through resources, policies, programming and other areas within our regulatory jurisdiction. 

We are inviting Alberta lawyers, articling students, law students and internationally trained lawyers (including those who are not yet called to the Alberta bar) to submit stories about their own experiences where racial discrimination or stereotyping impacted their legal career. 

The Law Society, in doing this work, recognizes the importance of its own self-reflection and welcomes any feedback from the project that highlights issues that need to be addressed by the Law Society itself.

You can submit your experience by video, audio or written format and have the option to share it anonymously. Your experience can be submitted on our engagement website, Law Society Listens. Video or audio submissions can be shot using a webcam, cell phone, iPad, or any other recording device. Please ensure that the audio is clear and that videos are shot using a horizontal orientation. We ask that submissions are no longer than 750 words or two minutes long.  

Experiences gathered through this project will inform the future work of the Law Society’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and the Indigenous Advisory Committee. Experiences will also be shared with the profession.

We will contact you to confirm receipt of your submission. Before we share your experience in any public format, we will confirm your consent to do so. For that reason, participants are required to provide an email address.

In order to be considered for this project, submissions must not include:
  • identifying information, including names, places of employment or any other identifying feature of any other individuals or organizations without their consent; or
  • profanity. 

Submissions for the “My Experience” Project will close on October 30, 2020. Questions about the project can be directed to the Law Society's Communications department
Assist Support for "My Experience" Project Participants
The Law Society has partnered with the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) to offer their support services for lawyers and students participating in this project. There are three types of support available:

  1. Peer Support: A member of the Assist team will connect you with culturally appropriate peer support. Call 1-877-737-5508 (Monday to Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.).
  2. Professional Counselling: As part of Assist’s confidentiality protocol, the Assist office does not receive any information about the identity of individuals who contact the psychological services office. Your call will go directly to Forbes Psychological Services Ltd. Call 1-877-498-6898 (Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  3. Crisis Counselling 24/7: Please follow the prompts to be connected to the psychologist handling crisis calls. Call 1-877-498-6898 (24/7).

Use of Assist’s programs is confidential. Psychologists are subject to their profession’s confidentiality duties, and peer support volunteers are trained in confidentiality and ethical obligations — see more information.