Oct. 29, 2015

Law students form group to promote diversity in legal profession

Diversity and Law Society fosters a learning environment of tolerance and acceptance

Author

Ali Abel

Some Diversity and Law Society executive members pose with Judge Gordon Wong (back row, fourth from right). The DLS executive includes Chris Yan, third-year law student and president; Caroline Law, third-year law student and vice-president; third-year law students Mike Gaber, John Lee, Vivian Tran, Hanson Wong, Larissa Bergh and Lauren Zaoral; second-year law students Geeth Makepeace, Julie Kim and Jessica Zhang; and first-year law students Marcia Cho, Kim Diep, Holly Wong and Yulin Shin.

Diversity and Law Society executive members pose with Judge Gordon Wong; back row, fourth from right

Across most professions, there has been an increased focus on equality and diversity to give people of all backgrounds the opportunity to grow and excel in their chosen career.

To improve diversity in the legal profession, students at the Faculty of Law created the Diversity and Law Society (DLS), aimed to promote diversity and multiculturalism in the study and practice of law.

Pictured above are the DLS executives that met with Judge Gordon Wong. These executives include Chris Yan, third-year law student and president; Caroline Law, third-year law student and vice-president; third-year law students Mike Gaber, John Lee, Vivian Tran, Hanson Wong, Larissa Bergh and Lauren Zaoral; second-year law students Geeth Makepeace, Julie Kim and Jessica Zhang; and first-year law students Marcia Cho, Kim Diep, Holly Wong and Yulin Shin. 

“The culture of the legal profession can be quite conservative,” says Caroline Law, a third-year student and vice-president of DLS. “As the composition of Canadian society is changing, it is important to foster a learning environment of tolerance and acceptance of diversity in law school, so that everyone feels welcome.”

Students promote awareness of equality issues in legal profession

DLS is affiliated with the national organization Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers and is associated with the Canadian Bar Association’s equality and diversity section, formed out of the association’s 1993 task force on gender equity report Touchstones for Change: Equity, Diversity and Accountability. 

It aims to promote awareness of equality issues in the legal profession; provide the means to eliminate discrimination; develop resources to assist the legal profession in achieving equality and monitor, on a national basis, the status of equality issues in the legal profession.

Student group integral to fostering tolerance and acceptance, says professor

Saul Templeton, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law is the faculty adviser of DLS. He points out that student groups like this one are required in the typically conservative culture of the legal profession.

“It is important to foster a learning environment of tolerance and acceptance of diversity in law school, so that everyone feels welcome in the classroom, and following graduation, when students begin their legal careers," he says.

In addition to working with classmates and other organizations focused on improving diversity in the legal profession, DLS will bring in a variety of speakers throughout the academic year to speak on topics of professionalism, career options and diversity.

Group hosts judge and alumnus as the first speaker

On Oct. 22, the group hosted Judge Gordon Wong, LLB’82, of the Provincial Court of Alberta. He spoke on his path in the legal profession, from prosecutor to chief Crown prosecutor, to being appointed to the bench. Judge Wong also provided important advice to students, and emphasized that “to succeed as a lawyer, you have to have strong interpersonal skills.”

Judge Wong noted that law is a very social occupation, and getting involved with associations like DLS is helpful for students as it provides a social aspect and helps them develop skills that are essential to being a lawyer.

“It’s so great to see the initiative of these students to put DLS together, and they are doing a great job organizing these events and securing influential speakers,” says Templeton. 

For more information about the Diversity and Law Society, contact dlawsociety@gmail.com.