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VOL. 77 PART 3 MAY 2019
leagues as competition. Yet, for many of us without a family lineage of
lawyers, these are the very relationships critical to our professional lives.
Recently, at a panel for Asian law students, I encouraged them to build
stronger bonds and watch out for each other as they advance. As a diverse
legal community, we need to mentor and be mentored in honest and
LY: It’s no different from what racialized people operating in white
supremacy culture deal with generally. One example is microaggressions:
the “Where are you really from?” or “You speak good English” type
of snubs. Accumulated over time, racialized people are confronted with
a lot of hostile messaging that says we do not belong in this society based
solely on our membership in a particular group. This message is sent
when a female lawyer gets asked if she is the legal assistant or the court
reporter, when a lawyer of colour is asked to join a client meeting to be a
diversity token, or when equity and inclusion efforts seem to fall disproportionately
on the shoulders of BIPoC (black, Indigenous and persons of
colour) and LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirited,
TP: In discussing with lawyers like Will and Linda, I have learned that
my experience is not unique. Racialized lawyers are often made to feel
exceptional and uncomfortable, as many authority figures see raising
diversity issues as a direct threat or suggestive of a harassment incident.
Evidence supports the need for top-down change to address systemic bottlenecks.
Ignoring race and socio-cultural background impedes, among
other things, meritocracy, performance, teamwork and realistic succession.
To date, our Ontario colleagues have better acknowledged that
racialized lawyers face more barriers, stress and mental health challenges
than their non-racialized counterparts.7 B.C. legal authorities
express concern about outsourcing and technological pressures on the
justice system, yet often apply approaches that neglect our shared future.
Specifically, an overlap exists between ignoring Western supremacy
(often casting it as “neutral”) and too strong a focus on left-brain thinking.
Incorporating other cultures and the right brain are essential to achieving
accessible and effective legal services in Canada in the 21st century.8
Q: How do you see intersectionality affecting women lawyers?
LY: This is not original but needs to be said: not all women are white.
When we talk about women’s issues in the legal profession, we need to
be conscious when the experiences of women of colour are being erased