Category Archives: Links we Like

Selected, annotated links. Relevance and quality over quantity.

"Diversity" in legal practice & A Call to Action Canada

A Call to Action Canada is having a symposium in Toronto on the afternoon of Thursday September 15th, 2011.  Information here.  The program includes the following discussions:

  • Diversity and First Nations:  A discussion of the challenges facing Aboriginal lawyers amid the growing importance and impact of First Nations business and legal issues.
  • Towards Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion: A discussion on hard-wiring sustainable diversity and inclusiveness into an organization’s mission, goals and operational strategies and presentation of the Toolkit developed by the Diversity and Inclusion Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

On Friday August 5th, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel at the American Bar Associations Toronto annual meeting, entitled Facilitating Diversity: Similar Countries, Different Experiences – How Historical Context Informs How We Address Diversity Today.  The panel was co sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Fraser Milner Casgrain, the hosts. It was a real pleasure to meet the other speakers, all with tremendous experience and expertise in the area – and to learn about some really interesting initiatives in terms of how large corporate firm lawyers and in house counsel can advocate for and demand more diversity in their corner of the profession. In particular, I was pleased to meet Joy Casey, a Canadian litigator and in-house counsel for Aurora Holdings.  She is the founder of A Call to Action Canada.

I only recently learned about A Call to Action (I posted something brief in May, click here).  Luckily for me, Joseph West, Associate General Counsel at Wal-Mart presented a concise overview of the (american) genesis of this innovative effort to improve diversity.  Essentially, A Call to Action invites companies to sign on to a set of commitments about improving diversity.  These commitments include the following:

we pledge that we will make decisions regarding which law firms represent our companies based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms.

Joe West also talked about the positive impact on the bottom line of “improving diversity performance” including making better use of underutilized people at the firm, eliminating the waste of talent, etc.  Joy Casey has made an effort to bring the insights of A Call to Action to Canada, and has signed up  Deloitte and Touche LLP, E.I. DuPont Canada Company, Ernst & Young LLP, GlaxoSmithKline Inc. and Royal Bank of Canada.

The importance of A Call to Action is, as I learned, that it makes diversity matter on the bottom line. For some folks, this is how to get their attention and their energy onto a matter.  So these kinds of efforts could have a very significant impact on changing the practices and attention to diversity at large law firms. The American Call to Action has many signatories – who will be asking questions about “diversity performance” of their Canadian law firms. More information can be found at the website of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity [LCLD] (“Our vision is to significantly advance diversity and inclusion in our profession.”).  Here is pledge,, here is the LCLD’s 2008 White Paper, here are some reports on diversity in the U.S. legal context, and here’s an article about the program.  I think I heard that there are similar programs, but these lack the “teeth” of the Call to Action model, so query how much impact affirming commitments to diversity might mean without these “teeth”.

Present at the panel was Drucilla Ramey, now Dean of Golden Gate University Law School and a long time advocate for law firm diversity, who gently confirmed that I should not expect to ever escape the pull of this issue.  Seriously, at one point I actually thought this might not be something I would spend the rest of my life talking about. I don’t know if Dean Ramey actually rolled her eyes at me, but you know what I mean.  And I have been realising this slowly for a while. So.  New plan:  embrace it.


Interested? Find Law Times articles here and here, describing the activities of A Call to Action Canada, and the response of the profession.One of the most interesting things is the reporting that firms have to do for the purposes of benchmarking and measuring their success or failure in terms of diversity.  Maybe I can find more on that to post at a later date.

[In other news, it’s allergy season, I appear to have lost my Blackberry (Thursday night), and I’ve just moved into my newly renovated office, sans asbestos, but with many packed boxes.  The big question: will blogging suffer or thrive under these conditions? The “procrastination-of-other-tasks” aspect of blogging leaves this always unclear.



Kate Broer, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP

Fred W. Alvarez, Chair, ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, and Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Palo Alto)

Joseph K. West, Associate General Counsel, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Sonia Lawrence, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School York University, and Director, Institute for Feminist Legal Studies

Jenny Rivera, Professor, CUNY School of Law, and Director, CUNY School of Law Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality

Should IFLS be on FB? FB pages for legal/feminists

You can show your love (or, “like”) for the UBC Law Centre for Feminist Legal Studies on FB, here.  They have an FB page, and so does LEAF National, Egale Canada, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Smart!  Should the IFLS get a facebook page? Or is this, like mountain vistas and ocean air, something that just won’t fly here…. The FB page would probably duplicate the twitter feed, but if it’s a more convenient way for some of you to follow what we’re up to, I’d do it. And what of Google+? Ach. I can’t keep up.

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Jotwell: Filtering information overload (what articles to read); also shameless self promotion, and "critical praise"

I’ve posted here about Jotwell before. Five times, it seems.  But recently I posted an announcement of a new Jotwell equality section.  Kim Brooks, Dean of Dalhousie Law, and I are the section editors, and the contributors are an amazing list of equality scholars (listed below – for links and pictures, click here).  Jotwell offers one way out of the dilemma of “what to read next when there’s too much out there”, and a related dilemma of increasing niche-ification, where suddenly people who work in a very similar area to you don’t read any of the same things – and only about 3 people in the world read the things you read.  There are obviously good reasons why this happens, but when another result is that it’s difficult to have academic conversation even with people who are, broadly speaking, in your field, it’s frustrating.

With that in mind, my own Jotwell “jot” (this is what they are called), went up recently. Would you like to read it (jots aren’t per se summaries, but they do have to indicate why the editor liked the recommend piece, and they are short)?  Ruthann Robson, one of the contributing editors, then posted on my post.  See? Connections.  And one author of the piece wrote me a lovely note of thanks.

You should know that Prof. Michael Froomkin, who runs Jotwell, is serious about the “liking lots” part of Jotwell’s mission.  You have to like the piece enough to say only good things.  This may not initially seem “critical” enough.  Yet the struggle to get my mind around the notion that rather than seeking to criticize, I needed to critically examine how the piece is excellent was itself instructive about how I have trained my thinking.  Something new – critical praise.


Contributing Editors of the Jotwell Equality Section

Professor Davina Cooper University of Kent Law School

Professor Elaine Craig  Dalhousie University – Schulich School of Law

Professor Margaret Davies Flinders University School of Law

Professor Katherine Franke Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Columbia Law School

Professor Isabel Grant University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law

Professor Robert Leckey McGill University, Faculty of Law

Professor Val Napoleon University of Alberta

Professor Camile Nelson Dean and Professor of Law Suffolk University Law School

Professor Ruthann Robson Professor of Law and University Distinguished Professor City University of New York School of Law

Professor Toni Williams University of Kent Law School

Online teaching roundtables – a model from The Conglomerate blog

At Conglomerate blog, they are running some online roundtables on teaching business courses. Neat model! Takers? Any we could run here? We could think about “teaching gender/equality/law” or we could talk about getting equality/gender content into one/more of the first year courses….

Click here to see an example from the Conglomerate.