A Canadian law society’s requirement for “diversity and inclusion” is forcing a lawyer who has been practicing for 30 years to quit.
Murray Klippenstein said he has always worked to advance social justice and is “horrified” to see what his own professional regulator was imposing, the Christian Institute said.
In reaction to a disputed report charging “systemic racism” in the legal profession, the Law Society of Ontario made lawyers abide by a “Statement of Principles.”
The statement requires lawyers to acknowledge “their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally.”
Lawyers also must “demonstrate a personal valuing” of those concepts, the law society said.
Klippenstein said the law society “was demanding that lawyers and paralegals draft and then obey a set of specific political ideas – both in their personal and professional lives – as a condition of their license.”
He said he would not be told what to say or what to value, so he’s refusing to comply.
And he’s joining a lawsuit against the moral code.
“Today, we are being told to promote ‘equality, diversity and inclusion.’ But once this line has been crossed, the content doesn’t matter. And tomorrow, we might be asked to pledge allegiance to some other ideological doctrine,” he warned.
He established his social justice credentials in a column for Quillette.
“I have sued governments and large corporations, often on a pro bono basis. I have acted for indigenous clients – including the family of Dudley George, an Ojibway man who was shot and killed by police in 1995 at Ipperwash Provincial Park in Ontario. I have represented a regional Cree First Nations tribal council on the James Bay coast for more than 25 years, and for eight years a group of indigenous Mayan women in an ongoing claim against a Canadian international mining company for alleged rape and murder at its facility in Guatemala. I act in a class-action for almost a thousand people who claim to have been wrongfully mass-arrested by Toronto Police at the 2010 G20 Summit. I am a recipient of the Diane Martin Medal For Social Justice Through Law, the Human Rights Award from the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the Champion of Justice Award from Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. In 2014, and again in 2015, Canadian Lawyer Magazine put me on its national Top-25-Most-Influential list because of my advocacy on behalf of those seeking access to justice,” he wrote.
Klippenstein said he’s “horrified by what my own professional regulator is doing in the name of that same cause.”
He said that largely vague claims of racism prompted the society to demand the new statement of principles.
“This development left me flabbergasted: Our regulator was demanding that lawyers and paralegals draft and then obey a set of specific political ideas – both in their personal and professional lives – as a condition of their license,” he said.
Failure, he said, would likely result in administrative suspension.
“Their refusal to embrace these values would put their livelihood in peril. The Law Society was prescribing, effectively with the force of law, what to say and what to think. I never imagined that I would ever see such a thing in Canada,” he said.