13 March 2019 at 13:38 BST

Corporate counsel candidates in law society election diversity drive

In-house counsel seek influential role in Ontario's law society decision-making body and bring more diversity perspectives to the election.


Three Toronto-based lawyers are running for election on the Law Society of Ontario’s Convocation Decisions, the Law Society's board of directors. The candidates told Canadian lawyer they are hoping to bring the in-house voice to Convocation.

Critical role
Julia Shin Doi, general counsel and corporate secretary of Ryerson University, Jayashree Goswami, senior legal counsel at Intact Financial, and George Begic, assistant general counsel Deloitte in Toronto, are all running in the City of Toronto electoral region. Convocation Decisions records the major decisions made by the Law Society, but corporate counsel are not currently represented as benchers at the Law Society of Ontario. The
convocation's policy decisions are based on reports debated at its monthly meetings. The next Law Society bencher election is on April 30, 2019, and marks the first time that lawyer and paralegal benchers will be elected simultaneously in Ontario. As members of convocation, benchers play a critical role in the governance of the Law Society and the regulation of Ontario’s legal professions in the public interest.

In-house isolated
Access to justice is a primary area of focus and the ‘most pressing issue facing the profession, Ms Goswami, an immediate past president of the Roundtable of Diversity Association, told the magazine. She sees a need to find ways to level the playing field in terms of representation of racialised lawyers, and says inclusion ‘starts at convocation.’ Ms Goswami explained, ‘because they haven’t been represented in convocation, in-house are very isolated from the law society. There is a general problem of lawyers not being engaged enough in the profession, and I feel in-house counsel feel disconnected from what’s happening in the profession and, in my view, the law society has to make more of an effort to reach out and better represent in-house counsel.’


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