Monday, June 13, 2011

Toronto’s visible minorities are trailing behind when it comes to legal sector leadership positions, says a new survey.

Just 6.8 per cent of leaders in the Greater Toronto Area legal sector come from visible minorities, despite accounting for nearly half of the region’s population, according to the third annual DiverseCity Counts report from the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University.

The report, which tracks leaders across the corporate, public, elected, education, and non-profit sectors, included a first look at the legal industry this year. It examined 2,410 leaders in the field, including judges, governing bodies, law schools, partners at the top 20 law firms, and Crown attorneys.

“Lawyers and judges are influential decision-makers who shape the laws and the administration of justice,” said lead author Wendy Cukier. “Representation in this sector is critical to a democratic society.”

At 8.3 per cent, the judiciary fares better than law firm partners and Crown attorneys when it comes to visible-minority representation. Governing bodies and law school leaders came out on top at 10.5 per cent. As a whole, visible minorities account for about 14 per cent of the profession.

“Now we can see that the problem increases as we move up the chain. Greater diversity at the top of our profession is both a social imperative and a business driver,” says Julia Hanigsberg, a member of the DiverseCity steering committee and general counsel at Ryerson.

James Klotz, a partner at Miller Thomson LLP’s Toronto office, has been awarded Poland’s Commemorative Medal for his work to promote justice.

Poland’s minister of justice, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, presented the award to four members of the International Bar Association for their outstanding achievements.

Klotz has written more than 100 publications on international economic and commercial law. He’s president and chairman of the Canadian branch of Transparency International, a global organization dedicated to the fight against corruption, and an adjunct professor of international law at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Jay Lefton has departed Norton Rose OR LLP for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, where he becomes a partner in the Toronto office.

Business lawyer Lefton has more than 25 years of experience advising public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions and corporate and securities law with a particular focus on technology and life sciences.

“We are delighted to have Jay join BLG. An award-winning lawyer, Jay is recognized by his clients, his peers, and the industry for his outstanding work in business law, securities, and mergers and acquisitions,” said Frank Callaghan, BLG’s managing partner in Toronto.

“I’m delighted to integrate my practice with that of BLG’s and to have the opportunity to work alongside a strong group of colleagues,” Lefton said.

The intersection of law and technology will be the focus for the lawTechcamp conference on June 18.
Organizers hope to bridge the gap between the technology and legal communities by bringing together new media enthusiasts, technology lawyers, developers, and bloggers.

The event, which will take place at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, encourages interactivity between workshop presenters and attendees.

“LawTechcamp is for anyone interested in the intersection of law and technology, how law applies to technology, how technology can improve access to justice, and how the legal profession deals with technology, or even for those who are simply curious about law and technology,” said Toronto lawyers and organizers Monica Goyal and Mitch Kowalski.

There’s no charge to attend lawTechcamp, but prior registration is required. More information is available at lawtech

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