Equality oath forces Canadian lawyer to close firm

A Canadian lawyer has explained how a new ‘diversity and inclusion’ push from the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) has forced him to close his own law firm.

Murray Klippenstein is an award-winning lawyer who has practised in Toronto for 30 years.

He said he has always worked to advance social justice and is “horrified” to see what his own professional regulator is doing in the name of the same cause.

Statement of Principles

In reaction to a disputed report suggesting “systemic racism” in the legal profession, the LSO compelled lawyers to abide by a Statement of Principles.

These would acknowledge “their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally”. The LSO added that licensees should also “demonstrate a personal valuing” of these principles.

Forced “to implement an ideology and a system I considered to be intellectually and morally wrong”

Klippenstein said the development left him “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 licence.”

Compelled Speech

Klippenstein said he “will not be told what to say or what to value”.

Consequently, he has resolved to oppose the new regulations, both by refusing to comply, and by joining a legal challenge against the Statement of Principles.

He said compelled speech is “unconscionable regardless of the principles a person is made to parrot”.

“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.”

Guilty by association

He recognises, however, that his opposition to these plans would adversely affect his business as his workforce, clients, and prospective recruits, no longer wish to be tainted by association.

His associates have all formally transferred to other firms and he is now his practice’s only worker.

Nonetheless, the veteran lawyer is standing by his principles, saying that instead of being encouraged to promote “an ethos of high professional competence, hard work and teamwork”, he was being forced “to implement an ideology and a system I considered to be intellectually and morally wrong”.

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