20 February 2017

White men still top dogs at Canadian law firms

White men still largely run Canada's law firms and are seven times more like to come out on tops than women from ethnic groups.


Diversity by the Numbers: The Legal Profession, conducted by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion - in partnership with the Canadian Bar Association - shows the representation of minority groups in the legal profession has not changed substantially over the last three years.

No change in three years

For example, in 2014 and 2015 some 74 per cent and 77 per cent of senior leader respondents were men.

In 2016, 75 per cent of senior leader respondents to the survey were men and 91 per cent of senior leaders were Caucasian.

In 2014 and 2015, 89 per cent of senior leader respondents were Caucasian respondents, respectively.

The majority of ‘racialised’ respondents in the legal profession were Asian, while all other groups show very small representation.

The report stated: 'Results from 2014, 2015 and 2016 do not show a shift towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce, particularly in partner and leadership roles.'

Sponsored study

The study, sponsored by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Dentons Canada LLP, McCarthy Tétrault LLP and Miller Thomson LLP, shows that women and racialised respondents are under-represented in equity partner and senior leader roles and over-represented as associates and articling or summer students.

Inflexible working conditions

Factors cited as reasons for the findings include ‘inflexible working conditions, rigid firm culture, high client expectations and overall economics of the profession.’

A total of 11 firms from nine provinces and one territory participated in the 2016 survey. 

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