LSO to update policies after exam scheduled on Eid

The Law Society of Ontario said it is reviewing how it schedules licensing exams to avoid conflicts with religious and cultural holidays.

LSO to update policies after exam scheduled on Eid
Yavar Hameed says it is disconcerting that the LSO would schedule an exam on Eid.

The Law Society of Ontario said it is reviewing how it schedules licensing exams to avoid conflicts with religious and cultural holidays.

The announcement comes after the Barrister Examination on June 4, 2019 coincided with Eid, which the government of Canada acknowledges is the end of the holy month of Ramadan for the country’s more than 1 million Muslims. Many cultural and religious leaders reached out to the LSO to offer “advice and counsel” on the scheduling issue, the LSO said.

“Candidates who were impacted by this date conflict were entitled to seek accommodations that would have permitted them to write the examination on another date. The licensing examinations are also offered three times a year,” the law society said in a statement on June 11. “These options notwithstanding, we recognize that the scheduling of the Barrister Examination on Eid was not in keeping with our commitment to inclusion in the profession.”

Ottawa human rights lawyer Yavar Hameed ran for bencher this year on the platform of removing barriers faced by young lawyers joining the profession, and was endorsed by the Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association. Hameed, who was ultimately not elected, says it is disconcerting that the LSO would make such a mistake.

“[T]here is also some variance as to when Eid is held based on a lunar calendar– within a span of about 24 hours,” says Hameed. “The LSO should have had Eid on its radar and the fact that it wasn’t shows that there continues to be a gap both institutionally from the perspective of LSO and the profession largely speaking in being attuned to religious diversity. That is a reality that doesn’t surprise me – whether or not we have a statement of principles there is a lot of work to be done.”

The law society said in its statement that it wants “policies and operating procedures reflect the diversity of the many cultures and religions that form the fabric of our community.”

“Thank you for your patience as we continue to work to increase cultural awareness within our organization and across the communities we serve,” the statement said. 

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