FullStop FAQ

    What does a “neutral” regulator look like? A neutral regulator ensures that lawyers and paralegals have the requisite training, knowledge, and skills to serve their clients, and engage in ethical practice. A neutral regulator does not supervise the political opinions, attitudes, or speech of its members. It does not require members to embrace ideological platitudes or agendas to be considered of “good character”. It does not threaten members with discipline for colouring outside the lines of approved groupthink. It does not seek to centrally plan the makeup of firms or the profession.  

    You say you want to de-politicize the law society, but your opponents say that you are the ones politicizing it. What’s the story? The establishment benchers at Convocation, now running as part of a coalition, claim that we are politicizing the Law Society because we object to their political agenda. Until we stood up to the Statement of Principles, their political agenda was unopposed. Now there is a battle over whether the Law Society should socially engineer the profession, supervise the political beliefs of its members, and impose an EDI regime. They claim that we are “politicizing” the place. In fact, we want the political agendas to go away. We want the Law Society to go back to its core mandate: regulating competence and ethical practice in the public interest. 

    Are you against wokeness? We believe people should be able to adopt their own political philosophies and convictions, whatever they happen to be. We’re not against people who hold any political philosophy, including those who regard themselves as “woke”. Instead, we’re against social justice ideology being imposed as a requirement of our licenses.  

    If imposing political views upon the profession is beyond the Law Society’s mandate, how are they doing it? The vested interests directing the Law Society over the past decade or so have been reimagining the concept of “professional conduct” through an ideological lens. They believe that requiring concurrence with political beliefs falls within their mandate to oversee professional conduct and good character. They are so deep down the rabbit hole that they say, essentially, that if we do not adopt their version of equity, diversity, and inclusion, then our conduct should be regarded as unprofessional. That was the point of the Statement of Principles – moderating our thinking to align with theirs.  

    If the Statement of Principles (SOP) is gone, what’s the problem? The problem is that the SOP was only one small part of an activist EDI agenda that remains in place. In December 2016 (long before the StopSOP benchers were elected in 2019), Convocation unanimously adopted 13 recommendations to revolutionize the Law Society’s governance of the legal profession through the lens of critical race theory and social justice ideology. The SOP was recommendation 3(1) in this list. It was the first recommendation to be put into action. The others have been delayed until the coast is clear. These 13 recommendations are reproduced in the appendix below if you would like to read them for yourself.  

    The coalition opposing us has now apparently disavowed the SOP (although all the current benchers on the coalition voted in favour of it), but they have not disavowed this much broader program. In fact, many of its candidates and supporters have insisted that the legal profession is systemically racist and have promised to continue down this path. The implication is that there are too many of “these people” and not enough of “those people” practising law, and the demographic makeup of the profession must be engineered.

    Measures still to be imposed include incorporating the SOP into the Rules of Professional Conduct; publishing an “Inclusion Index” that lists, for every legal workplace of at least 25 licensees, the “identity” profile of all employees; imposing compulsory EDI training for all licensees; and creating “progressive compliance measures” for legal workplaces that do not comply with the regime. And more recently, in addition to these 13 agenda items, the Law Society proposes to give its Proceedings Authorization Committee powers to require licensees to submit to re-education, without due process, even if the committee concludes that there are no grounds for a disciplinary hearing. This will undoubtedly be used to correct lawyers and paralegals who engage in wrongthink, and will be a mark on their public record. 

    You can get a taste of this medicine in your Annual Report, which includes questions about your identity and politics. Even if you choose the option “I do not wish to answer,” your answers will be tabulated by the Law Society and used to determine law firm and workplace diversity (wokeness) scores for their public “Inclusion Index” (see Recommendation 6 below). 

    The FullStop Team doesn’t want to control thoughts and beliefs. We want a profession of competent lawyers and paralegals serving the public with integrity, and a neutral regulator that sticks to its statutory mandate. Nothing more. Nothing less. 

    Appendix Recommendations adopted by Convocation, December 2016

    Recommendation 1 – Reinforcing Professional Obligations

    The Law Society will review and amend, where appropriate, the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, and Commentaries to reinforce the professional obligations of all licensees to recognize, acknowledge and promote principles of equality, diversity and inclusion consistent with the requirements under human rights legislation and the special responsibilities of licensees in the legal and paralegal professions. 

    Recommendation 2 – Diversity and Inclusion Project

    The Law Society will work with stakeholders, such as interested legal workplaces, legal associations, law schools and paralegal colleges to develop model policies and resources to address the challenges faced by racialized licensees. 

    Recommendation 3 – The Adoption of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Principles and Practices

    The Law Society will:

    1) require every licensee to adopt and to abide by a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public;

    2) require a licensee representative of each legal workplace of at least 10 licensees in Ontario to develop, implement and maintain a human rights/diversity policy for their legal workplace addressing at the very least fair recruitment, retention and advancement, which will be available to members of the professions and the public upon request;

    3) require a licensee representative of each legal workplace of at least 10 licensees in Ontario to complete, every two years, an equality, diversity and inclusion self-assessment for their legal workplace, to be provided to the Law Society; and4) encourage legal workplaces to conduct inclusion surveys by providing them with sample templates. 

    Recommendation 4 – Measuring Progress through Quantitative Analysis

    Each year, the Law Society will measure progress quantitatively by providing legal workplaces of at least 25 licensees in Ontario with the quantitative self-identification data of their licensees compiled from the Lawyers Annual Report and the Paralegal Annual Report in a manner consistent with the best practices established to protect licensees vulnerable to harm that may flow from this disclosure, so they can compare their data with the aggregate demographic data gathered from the profession as a whole through the annual reports. 

    Recommendation 5 – Measuring Progress through Qualitative Analysis

    The Law Society will measure progress by:1) asking licensees to voluntarily answer inclusion questions, provided by the Law Society, about their legal workplace, every four years; and2) compiling the results of the inclusion questions for each legal workplace of at least 25 licensees in Ontario and providing the legal workplace with a summary of the information gathered 

    Recommendation 6 – Inclusion Index

    Every four years, the Law Society will develop and publish an inclusion index that reflects the following information, including, for each legal workplace of at least 25 licensees: the legal workplace's self-assessment information (Recommendation 3(3)), demographic data obtained from the Lawyer Annual Report and Paralegal Annual Report (Recommendation 4) and information gathered from the inclusion questions provided by the Law Society (Recommendation 5). 

    Recommendation 7 – Repeat Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Project Inclusion Survey

    The Law Society will conduct inclusion surveys with questions similar to those asked in Appendix F of the Stratcom Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Final Report (March 11, 2014) (available online at http://www.stratcom.ca/wp-content/uploads/manual/Racialized-Licensees_Full-Report.pdf). The first inclusion survey will be conducted within one year of the adoption of these recommendations, and thereafter every four years, subject to any recommendation by the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee to Convocation. 

    Recommendation 8 – Progressive Compliance MeasuresThe Law Society will consider and enact, as appropriate, progressive compliance measures for legal workplaces that do not comply with the requirements proposed in Recommendation 3 and/or legal workplaces that are identified as having systemic barriers to diversity and inclusion. 

    Recommendation 9 – Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programs on Topics of Equality and Inclusion in the Professions

    The Law Society will:

    1) launch a three hour accredited program focused on advancing equality and inclusion in the professions;

    2) develop resources to assist legal workplaces in designing and delivering their own three hour program focused on advancing equality and inclusion in the professions, to be accredited by the Law Society; and

    3) require each licensee to complete three hours of an accredited program focused on equality and inclusion within the first three years following the adoption of theserecommendations and one hour per year every year thereafter, which will count towards the licensee’s professionalism hours for that year. 

    Recommendation 10 – The Licensing ProcessThe Law Society will include the topics of cultural competency, equality and inclusion in the professions as competencies to be acquired in the Licensing Process. 

    Recommendation 11 – Building Communities of SupportThe Law Society, in collaboration with legal associations where appropriate, will provide support to racialized licensees in need of direction and assistance through mentoring and networking initiatives. 

    Recommendation 12 – Addressing Complaints of Systemic Discrimination

    The Law Society, in light of the findings of this project and emerging issues in the professions, will:

    1) review the function, processes and structure of the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel Program (DHC), including considering effective ways for the DHC to address issues of systemic discrimination;

    2) revise the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, where appropriate, so that systemic discrimination and reprisal for complaints of discrimination and harassment are clearly identified as breaches of professional conduct requirements;

    3) create effective ways for the Professional Regulation Division to address complaints of systemic discrimination; and

    4) create a specialized and trained team to address complaints of discrimination. 

    Recommendation 13 – Leading by Example

    1) The Law Society will continue to monitor and assess internal policies, practices and programs, to promote diversity, inclusion and equality within the workplace and in the provision of services by:

    a) as required, adopting, implementing and maintaining a human rights/diversity policy addressing at the very least fair recruitment, retention and advancement;

    b) measuring quantitative progress through a census of the workforce or other method;c) measuring qualitative progress by conducting inclusion surveys;

    c) [Statement of Principles -- repealed]

    d) conducting regular equality, diversity and inclusion self-assessments; ande) based on the results from b), c) and d), identifying gaps and barriers and adopting measures to address the gaps and barriers;f) publishing relevant findings from b), c), d) and e); andg) providing equality and inclusion education programs for staff at the Law Society on a regular basis.

    2) The Law Society will:a) conduct an internal diversity assessment of the bencher composition and publicize the results;b) provide equality and inclusion education programs for Convocation on a regular basis.