Canadian Lawyer

June 2021

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The reality is that evidence is slim — or arguably non-existent — about how effective these questions are in protecting the public. www.canadianlawyermag.com 1 EDITOR'S DESK UPFRONT www.canadianlawyermag.com EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilbur Senior Editor Elizabeth Raymer Editor Zena Olijnyk Canada News Editor Aidan Macnab Production Editor Patricia Cancilla Writer Bernise Carolino CONTRIBUTORS Kevin Cheung, Heather Suttie ART & PRODUCTION Art Director Marla Morelos Customer Success Managers Reena Quimosing, Michelle San Juan Production Co-ordinators Kat Guzman, Loiza Razon Global Production Manager Alicia Chin (on leave) SALES & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT VP, Media and Client Strategy Dane Taylor Sr. Business Development Manager Steffanie Munroe Business Development Manager Lynda Fenton National Account Executive Abhiram Prabhu CORPORATE President Tim Duce Events and Conference Manager Chris Davis Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil Global CEO Mike Shipley Global COO George Walmsley EDITORIAL INQUIRIES tim.wilbur@keymedia.com NAUK SUBSCRIPTIONS CO-ORDINATOR Donnabel Reyes tel: 647 374 4536 ext. 243 donnabel.reyes@keymedia.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES legaladvertise@keymedia.com L awyers deal with evidence all the time. They are experts in the rules, devel- oping intricate and rigorous procedures to ensure decision-makers appro- priately assess, include or discard evidence. That is why it is a bit perplexing how one of the legal profession's key processes, admission into the profession, suffers from such a lack of evidence about its effectiveness. In this issue, we examine one of the worst offenders in the admissions process, the "good character" requirement (p. 4). This process involves questions for appli- cants about their past. Law societies often force applicants to disclose details about a wide array of personal and private information, including unsubstanti- ated allegations, complaints, charges, discipline and convictions, regardless of the relevance or outcome. "If you look at the number of questions on the good character requirement form . . . it would be interesting to know what empirical evidence is behind [each] ques- tion," says Amy Salyzyn, associate professor at the University of Ottawa's faculty of law. "Because the connection between those questions and future concerns aren't always evident. I think it's a part of a broader need for law societies to engage in evidence-based regulation." The reality is that evidence is slim — or arguably non-existent — about how effective these questions are in protecting the public. What is quite evident, though, is that these questions successfully create barriers for applicants from underrepresented groups. "I think that the current process as it stands does not fully take into account the over-policing, wrongful convictions and criminalization of everyday movements of Black, Indigenous and criminalized folks," says Samantha Peters, the Black legal mentor-in-residence at the University of Ottawa's faculty of law. For Naomi Sayers, an Indigenous lawyer who wrote about her experience under- going a good character investigation in these pages in 2018, there are signs of progress. In Ontario, Convocation approved several changes, including a new policy statement and staff training to assess the character of diverse candidates, after she wrote about her experience there. Sayers is quick to point out that the underlying purpose of the good character requirement is sound: to protect the public. But like all applicants to the legal profession, Sayers is entitled to evidence on what works best. As lawyers, we should make our case with the best evidence. Tim Wilbur, Editor-in-Chief The best evidence on good character ISSUE 45.05 | JUNE 2021 Canadian Lawyer is published 10 times a year by Key Media Canada (Law) Ltd. KEY MEDIA and the KEY MEDIA logo are trademarks of Key Media IP Limited, and used under licence by Key Media Canada (Law) Ltd. CANADIAN LAWYER is a trademark of Key Media Canada (Law) Ltd. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted without written permission. The opinions expressed in articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. Information presented is compiled from sources believed to be accurate, however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Canadian Lawyer disclaims any warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or currency of the contents of this publication and disclaims all liability in respect of the results of any action taken or not taken in reliance upon information in this publication. 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