2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ Several organizations representing diversity and equality-seeking legal professionals in Ontario have worked together to create this survey. We encourage viewpoints that are sensitive to diversity among candidates to ensure more equitable representation at Convocation. By completing this survey, you give us permission to publish your responses for our members and/or other eligible voters to review. If you wish to have your responses included on our distribution channels (e-mail, websites, etc.), please return the completed survey by April 11. 1. For those who have been historically under-represented in the legal profession, the notion of “equity” is an important consideration, as distinguished from “equal opportunity”. What is your definition of “equity” and how would you ensure that it is promoted throughout the legal profession? Equity means equality of result and requires more than just equal treatment or equal opportunity. People who are members of historically under-represented groups must sometimes be treated differently in order to achieve substantive equality or equity. Equity also means fairness in a broad sense, and it requires a commitment by all members, but especially by leaders in the legal profession, such as benchers, to understand the barriers to equity faced by under-represented groups and take concrete steps to eliminate these barriers. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 2. Benchers who value diversity and understand equity issues affecting the legal profession are important voices to have on Convocation. How is your lived experience relevant to representing the diverse populations of the legal profession and promoting their needs? When I started out in the profession, Chinese Canadian female lawyers were extremely rare, and as an outsider and a minority, I tried to understand the culture and norms of the dominant group and conform to them as much as possible – in other words, to assimilate - as this seemed to be the only way to succeed. It’s wonderful to see the increasing diversity of the legal profession since then. There is now a sufficient critical mass to form groups such as FACL, CABL, SOGIC, SABA, ACLA and HOLA, which did not exist when I was a student. Although much progress has been made, I know from my work as a mentor with law students and young lawyers that barriers remain. We still have work to do. I think that I am at the point in my personal and professional development where I can help to remove those barriers, and I am ready to move from assimilation to activism. I now know that as a Chinese Canadian female lawyer, I will never be “the same” as a non-Chinese lawyer and I now see this as a good thing, as my lived experience enables me to better understand and represent the diverse populations which make up the legal profession. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 3. Beyond simply articulating a commitment to diversity, what are some concrete examples that you have personally implemented to ensure greater diversity in the legal profession? In my hiring decisions throughout a 28 year career in government, I have made an effort to hire and support racialized minorities, women, Aboriginal people and members of other underrepresented groups. I have been active as a mentor for FACL as well as for the Dept of Justice and have provided advice and support to many young lawyers and students. I have also tried to create a workforce which is inclusive and respectful and where people feel comfortable being authentic to themselves. 4. Corporate and institutional clients are increasingly demanding that legal services be provided by practitioners from diverse backgrounds. This is a business issue. Marginalized groups are increasingly finding it difficult to obtain legal services delivered by practitioners who representing and/or understand the challenges associated with their diverse backgrounds. This is an access to justice issue. What role can the Law Society play to ensure that clients receive legal services from diverse practitioners? The Law Society should be a role model in its own hiring (both staff and outside counsel) of people who represent the diverse population of Ontario. The Law Society should make it easier for foreign trained lawyers to qualify as lawyers in Ontario, which would help increase the supply of lawyers from diverse backgrounds. The Law Society should work with the legal profession to ensure that all law school graduates, especially those from diverse backgrounds, have access to articling positions and have the opportunity to become lawyers. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 5. Practitioners representing diverse communities, such as women, racialized persons, francophones, persons with disabilities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, have claimed that they are consistently undervalued and underpaid as compared to their peers. Please provide up to three suggestions regarding the role the Law Society can and should play in addressing discrimination and gender inequality, and in promoting an inclusive work environment for legal professionals from diverse backgrounds. The Ornstein report [at http://www.lsuc.on.ca/media/convapril10_ornstein.pdf ] reveals a significant gap in income for women and racialized lawyers based on 2006 census data. Pay levels are higher in large firms than, for example, in public sector work, in small firms, in legal aid clinics, etc. Therefore, some of the gap is likely due to the type of work chosen by members of equity seeking groups (not to imply that this was always necessarily their first choice) – see my response to Q 7 below. There is however, a remaining problem which we need more data to diagnose and assess – the extent to which members of equity seeking groups who work within the same organization as others are undervalued and underpaid as compared to their peers. We need publicly available data from law firms which sets out the number of women, racialized lawyers and other equity seekers at all levels. This data gathering and greater transparency would provide greater motivation for firms to ensure that their workforce is representative, that hiring and promotion practices are barrier free, and would provide useful information for students making decisions about where to article and work. The Law Society could require that this type of data be collected and reported as part of annual filings by firms. The issue of intersectionality (the interaction of two different potential grounds of discrimination) should also be examined – for example, as an Asian woman I believe that there are two sets of stereotypes and barriers that I face – it is doubly challenging to have “assertive” behaviour viewed positively by some when there are preconceived expectations that due to both gender and culture, I should behave in a more traditionally “submissive” manner – it is tough to do this and be an effective lawyer at the same time! The Law Society does have a good Equity Advisory Group and a program of public events on equity issues, but this could go further – e.g. developing expertise and providing consulting services to law firms on how to promote an inclusive and barrier free work environment. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 6. The representation of Aboriginal peoples [including First Nations, Métis and Inuit] in the legal profession has typically been low compared to their overall numbers in the general population. What are some of the barriers that Aboriginal articling students face in entering the profession of law, and what would you do as a Bencher to ensure greater access for these students? Aboriginal lawyers are actually fairly well represented in the legal profession, in relation to the number of Aboriginal people with university degrees. (The Ornstein report notes that there are twice the expected number of Aboriginal lawyers in relation to the pool of qualified Aboriginal university graduates). The challenge is improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal students so that more students graduate from high school, and therefore go on to university and from there, potentially to law school. There are a number of successful law school and pre-law school programs which have encouraged and assisted Aboriginal people in pursuing legal studies. Research done by Michael Mendelson for the Caledon institute (see http://www.caledoninst.org/Publications/PDF/595ENG.pdf) reveals that Aboriginal people who finish high school have post secondary graduation rates comparable to the rest of the population, and that the real problem is the low high school completion rate which is preventing Aboriginal youth from meeting their full potential. This is an urgent problem which Aboriginal organizations, think tanks and governments are trying to address. There are also barriers which Aboriginal students face when they enter the legal profession, which vary quite a bit depending on their personal life situation. For Aboriginal students coming from remote communities, living far from family and community and adapting to the norms of a dominant culture can create barriers which can make it harder to succeed (this was recognized and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Akitsiraq law school in Nunavut, an initiative which I support – see http://www.akitsiraq.ca ). Based on my experiences with Aboriginal articling students, interns and lawyers, I believe that mentoring, respect for different cultural values and the creation of a supportive and inclusive workforce are helpful. As a bencher, I would bring my experiences working with Aboriginal people and living in the far north and my interest in continuing to work closely with and listening to Aboriginal people to develop programs to meet the concerns of Aboriginal students and lawyers. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 7. The retention and promotion of women in private practice has been identified by the Law Society as an area around which to strategize in order to enhance women’s full participation in the legal profession. What obstacles are you able to identify in recruiting, attracting and retaining women lawyers in your own firm, agency or organization? How effective do you think the Law Society’s current initiatives have been on retaining women in private practice, and what other solutions would you propose? I work for the federal Department of Justice (DOJ), where women lawyers greatly outnumber male lawyers. Women lawyers are attracted to the Department of Justice (and other public sector organizations more generally, but I will speak about DOJ which I know best) because of progressive policies which facilitate greater work life balance (e.g. one year paid maternity leave; 5 days annual leave for family sickness; 15 days leave for personal sickness; generous vacation time; flexible arrangements if needed to accommodate child care or other personal needs, such as compressed work weeks, part-time employment, leave with income averaging, care and nurturing leave). In addition, the Department takes Employment Equity seriously and prepares an Employment Equity report, including data at all levels, on an annual basis. Employment equity goals are clear and are managers are accountable for reaching them - these deliverables are included in the performance agreements of all managers. While no workplace is perfect, these department-wide policies, programs and initiatives have helped to create a culture which is supportive of work life balance and which views employment equity as a priority. As a result, there are no significant barriers to recruiting, attracting and retaining women lawyers in my own organization, at any level. The situation in the private sector is very different. I think the lack of work-life balance, the emphasis on billable hours, the lack of support to accommodate childcare, and a culture which is still male-dominated make it much more challenging for women lawyers to succeed and thrive in such an environment. The Law Society’s Justicia project is a good first step, as is the 3 month parental leave benefit for small firms, but much more should and could be done. The programs and policies which have worked in the public sector should be examined as they have been successful in recruiting and retaining women lawyers. The Law Society needs to take a leading role in analyzing barriers to retention and sharing and promoting best practices. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 8. The Law Society’s Equity and Diversity Mentorship Initiative encourages students from diverse backgrounds to consider law as a career by pairing high school and university students with lawyers. Have you ever participated in this program, or would you consider participating and support it if elected as Bencher? What improvements do you think could be made to the program? I have not participated in the Law Society’s mentoring program, but I currently mentor law students and young lawyers as a mentor with the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers. I am also a mentor in the Department of Justice’s mentoring program, and in addition, as a senior lawyer with the department, I have spoken at Employment Equity events and shared advice on succeeding as a racialized minority woman in law. I am a strong believer in mentoring and would participate in the Law Society’s Equity and Diversity Mentorship program if elected a bencher. 2011 BENCHER CANDIDATE EQUITY SURVEY Name: Julie Jai ______________________________________ Region: Toronto ______________________________________ 9. Please provide any additional information you care to offer our members in support of your candidacy. I believe that my lived experience as a woman and as a member of a racialized minority, as a bilingual lawyer and supporter of access to justice in French, as well as my experience working with Aboriginal people in the north, and my academic writing and other work on equity issues provide me with the understanding and experience to be an effective advocate for a more diverse, representative and equitable bar. For more information on my priorities, experience and those who have endorsed my candidacy, please visit http://www.juliejai4bencher.com/ Thank you!
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