Equity, diversity, and inclusion* remains at the forefront of everything that we do at Lenczner Slaght because we are stronger together. Our concrete initiatives to recruit, support, and retain diverse candidates drives§ our firm forward as a diverse team enables us to offer our clients unique and creative perspectives when approaching complex legal problems. We are also dedicated to maintaining an inclusive work environment that allows every member of our firm, regardless of their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, to have an equal opportunity to develop, advance and contribute to our success . While we are a work in progress, we will continue to take bold steps toward promoting and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion at our firm and in the broader legal community..

Lenczner Slaght is committed to promoting and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in our workplace and in the legal profession – not only because studies show it results in better work product for our clients, but because it produces a more human and connected workplace.

We recruit and support diverse candidates and are deeply committed to their retention and advancement. We know that a diverse team enables us to offer our clients a variety of viewpoints when approaching complex legal problems.

We are also dedicated to fostering an inclusive work environment. Which means that our firm will be made up of people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and cultures. Through our internal educational programs and training courses, we will continue to ensure that everyone at the firm is valued, respected, and has an equal opportunity to develop, advance, and be heard.

While we recognize we are a work in progress, we take pride in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion inside and outside of our firm through concrete initiatives like resume anonymization in student recruitment, unconscious bias training, inclusivity dialogue sessions, firm-wide resource sharing on racism and allyship, access to justice internships, the R&R Lounge, ReferToHer™, and support of organizations dedicated to advocating for underrepresented groups.

Our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee is leading our efforts to achieve our goals.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee is comprised of lawyers, assistants, and business team members. Through annual planning, developing and supporting concrete initiatives, creating progressive firm policies, advancing strategic space planning, and organizing community involvement, our committee leads the firm’s change efforts in increasing our diversity and strengthening our internal culture of inclusion.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Members:

Inclusivity Within Our Walls

Developing an inclusive work environment means taking action and creating a safe workspace where everyone can achieve their full potential. We have executed projects and developed new programs to push ourselves forward and continue to prioritize our growth in this area. 

Using Feedback to Grow

In 2018, the firm created the LS Suggestion Box, an outlet allowing all firm members to submit candid thoughts and suggestions about how we can improve as a firm. Each suggestion is reviewed by the Management Committee and if one naturally involves a process improvement, a task force is launched to further develop the idea and launch it in alignment with one of the firm’s business functions. For example, a winning submission from 2018 led to the firm’s pilot of Microsoft Teams, mere months before the global pandemic forced the entire firm to work at home. 

In 2019, the firm implemented the EDI Listening Box. Employing a similar process to the LS Suggestions Box, all firm members are given the opportunity to offer kudos, criticisms, comments, or thoughts about all matters of EDI at the firm. Each message is reviewed by the Chair of the EDI Committee and if appropriate, advanced for discussion with the broader committee, with management, or with the firm at large. 

These feedback tools provide everyone at the firm with the opportunity to be valued, respected, and most importantly, heard.

Creating Space for Everyone

In 2018, we re-designed our physical space to support a more inclusive work environment that meets the diverse needs of our firm members, clients, and guests. We have revitalized our premises to provide amenities such as a gender inclusive washroom, a prayer/meditation room, a private space for nursing mothers, and a collaboration space for use by all firm members.

Celebrating our Differences

In 2019, our EDI committee implemented a new tradition of acknowledging religious and cultural holidays celebrated by members across the firm. Each holiday or observance is accompanied by a firm-wide communication highlighting the history and significance of the holiday, and including personal testimonials of our firm members’ experiences and traditions. On a rotating basis, we gather, in-person or virtually, to celebrate the various holidays and observances by sharing stories as well as traditional snacks, sweets, and drinks.

We use our intranet, Lenczner Slaght HQ, to provide relevant updates and news to everyone at the firm. We have pages dedicated to events, firm videos, clubs, and fundraisers. Photos and polls bring our content alive and keep people feeling connected and in some cases, nostalgic.

Decreasing Barriers in Student Hiring

Student recruitment is amongst our most important hiring initiatives. We hire law students with the hope that they will become associates and eventually partners at our firm. As a diverse candidate pool is the first step to a diverse firm, we are dedicated to having an unbiased recruitment and selection system that addresses equity, diversity and inclusion issues in the legal industry and removes barriers to entry at all stages.

Resume Anonymization

In 2018, we took the bold step to anonymize student applications, applying an automated and manual process to remove candidates’ names from all documents. All other information submitted by candidates remain and are considered. This selection system helps our screeners and interviewers evaluate students on their skills and qualifications while helping address any unconscious biases and barriers against diverse candidates.

Lenczner Slaght was the first law firm in Canada to implement resume anonymization as part of the student recruitment process.

Unconscious Bias Training and Standardized Interview Questions

Our application screeners and interviewers receive training on unconscious biases and interviewing skills on an annual basis. We have developed and implemented a set of standardized questions for use in our hybrid-structured student interview format in order to allow for greater objectivity and to reduce the interference of unconscious biases.

R&R Lounge

In-firm interviews can be stressful and demanding for law students. Instead of adding to their exhausting week with another cocktail reception, we provide an inclusive space where students can take a healthy break.

We invite all law students to “relax and recharge” between in-firm interviews at the Lenczner Slaght R&R Lounge located in the lobby of 130 Adelaide Street West (York Street and Adelaide Street West). This is not part of our recruitment process and students will not encounter our lawyers in the Lounge.

The R&R Lounge is meant to be used by students to:

  • Rest (in between interviews!)
  • Relax (on one of our comfy couches!)
  • Recharge (your phone!)
  • Re-connect (with our complimentary Wi-Fi!)
  • Refuel (with our selection of mindful snacks and fresh juice!)
  • Read (one of our magazines!)
  • Reflect (on the day!)
  • Rev up (for what’s coming up next!)

In 2019, the R&R Lounge received the inaugural Precedent Innovation Award for actively improving the legal profession by rethinking long-held traditions. The R&R Lounge was instituted in 2018 as a direct response to Precedent Magazine's’ cover story “The OCIs are Broken”, which presented eye-opening critique of how cocktail parties can potentially alienate diverse candidates. As our firm relies solely on interviews to select our summer students, we decided to replace the cocktail reception with an environment conducive to the mental health of all law students, even those who are not interviewing with our firm.

Read more about our student program here.

ReferToHer™

We are committed to supporting and promoting the advancement of women at our firm and in the legal industry. In June 2019, we took one concrete step toward gender equity and initiated ReferToHer™, a series of lists, organized by practice group, of experienced female lawyers to whom you can confidently refer work.

As referrals are an important part of achieving business success, this program is meant to ensure that female lawyers are positioned as equal, available, resources for those seeking legal help. This is a step towards ensuring that, regardless of gender, clients are referred to the right lawyers.

In January 2020, we partnered with McCarthy Tétrault to expand ReferToHer™ and launch Corporate lists of experienced female lawyers.

We have developed lists in the following practice areas:

  • Class Actions
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Employment Litigation
  • Trusts & Estates Litigation
  • IP Litigation
  • Insolvency Litigation
  • Insurance Litigation
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (Public)
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (Private)
  • Private Equity
  • Professional Liability
  • Public Law
  • Securities and Capital Markets
  • Securities Litigation

The program continues to grow organically, with new lawyers and areas of practice being added regularly. Learn more on our ReferToHer™ page or at refertoher.com

Standing Against Anti-Black Racism

We are educating ourselves, engaging in dialogue, curating and sharing resources, and taking action to support the Black community in Canada in combatting the systemic racism and discrimination they face.

Throughout Summer 2020, we raised funds for the Black Legal Action Centre (“BLAC”), a clinic that delivers legal aid services to low and no income Black Ontarians and is focused on fighting anti-Black racism by doing the crucial legal work on the ground. We raised enough money to meaningfully assist the clinic in the work they are doing with individual clients and in their broader advocacy for members of the Black community.

In order to better understand our role in combatting anti-Black racism, both personally and as legal professionals, we are scheduling educational sessions on steps we can take to be effective allies. These sessions will include all members of our firm and are in addition to ongoing sessions that we have had and will have on implicit bias and inclusivity.

We will continue to be listening to all the members of our firm and the wider community to learn how we can be part of the solution to address systemic racism in Canada, and beyond, as a firm and as individuals.

Access to Advocacy Internships

In 2019, we began to partner with law schools to fund and launch summer internships for first and second year students who are interested in developing their advocacy skills at organizations with a focus on access to justice and social responsibility. Each of the students were chosen by their school’s career offices and preference was given to students with financial need and/or those who are first-generation lawyers.

These internships provide the next generation of advocates with more opportunities to gain advocacy experience. We hope it will help organizations, who would otherwise be unable to afford a summer intern, advance their public interest mandates.

In 2019 and 2020, students from Queen’s Law, Osgoode Hall, Schulich School of Law, and University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law have participated in internships at the following organizations and Courts:

  • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
  • Centre for Law and Democracy
  • Community Advocacy and Legal Centre
  • Industrial Accident Victim’s Group of Ontario
  • Innocence Canada
  • Nova Scotia Supreme Court
  • Ontario Superior Court
  • SHARE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource Exchange) Project at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Supporting a Diverse Community

We partner with, participate in, donate to, or sponsor prominent organizations who are committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the legal and broader community. Over the past two years, we have supported:

  • Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
  • Black Female Lawyer Network
  • Black Law Students' Association of Canada
  • Black Legal Action Centre
  • Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
  • Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers
  • First Generational Lawyer Network
  • Group of Racialized Ontario Women Litigators
  • Intellectual Property Institute of Canada’s Women in IP Networking Group
  • International Women's Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation
  • South Asian Bar Association
  • Start Proud
  • United Way’s Women United
  • Women's Legal Education and Action Fund
  • Women's White Collar Defense Association
  • Young Women in Law
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