Our advocacy matters. This past week, we have seen two extraordinary developments in the legal profession, in both of which SABA Toronto played an integral role. To begin, we congratulate the Honourable Jasmine Akbarali, who was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. She is the first South Asian woman appointed to the provincial Superior Court in Toronto.
On October 20th, Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced new measures to increase the diversity of Canada’s judiciary. The Judicial Advisory Committees will be reformed. The changes include:
• reconstituted committees that better reflect the diversity of our great country
• revised committee mandates to increase the independence of their processes
• an open selection process for the three members of each committee who represent the general public—a measure which aims to ensure that Canadians are properly represented in the appointment process
Transparency will be improved by requiring the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (CFJA) to collect and publish statistics and demographic information on those who apply for judicial office and those who are appointed. In order to promote diversity on the bench, JACs will be instructed to take into account, as one of their many considerations, the Government’s goal to have a judiciary that reflects the diversity of Canadian society. To this end, the Government will instruct JACs to conduct the assessment of candidates taking into account as one of their considerations the Government’s goal to have a judiciary that reflects the diversity of Canadian society. JAC members will be assisted in this task through training on diversity, unconscious bias, and the assessment of merit.
Further, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs will collect and publish statistics and demographic. In addition, sitting judges on provincial and territorial courts will be required to apply using the same Questionnaire and be assessed by JACs in the same way as lawyer applicants.
In June, SABA Toronto wrote to the Attorney General advocating for a more transparent, inclusive and diverse appointment process. We are pleased that the Attorney General adopted many of our recommendations.
The deadline for applying to be a general public representative on a JAC is November 17th. The application form is here. If you’re interest in applying for a judicial appointment, the application form is here. We encourage any SABA Toronto members applying for a judicial appointment to advise SABA Toronto’s President Ranjan Agarwal on a confidential basis.
Law Practice Program
In September 2016, the Law Society’s Professional Development and Competence Committee recommended terminating the Law Practice Program. The LPP has been fundamentally important to assisting and ensuring many of our members are licensed by the Law Society. As such, we strongly advocated against ending the LPP.
We’re pleased to announce that the Law Society has reversed course, and the Professional Development and Competence Committee is now recommending that the current LPP should be extended for two years to enable the gathering of more data on the LPP and articling and the larger analysis of licensing. The Committee’s report will be voted on at Convocation on November 9th.