Data and Diversity in the Canadian Justice Community

33 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2014 Last revised: 21 Nov 2014

See all articles by Sabrina Lyon

Sabrina Lyon

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Lorne Sossin

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: January 21, 2014

Abstract

This study explores the importance of quantitative and qualitative data in the development of more inclusive policies of recruitment and appointment in the justice community. Since at least the Abella Equality in Employment Royal Commission Report in 1984, the link between obtaining and analyzing data on recruitment and achieving greater inclusion has been well-documented and oft-repeated. The authors focus on the apparent resistance on the part of governments (in the case of judicial appointments) and private as well as public legal employers (in the case of legal recruitment) to keep, track and publish demographic data on who seeks these opportunities and who is selected for them. While the rhetoric around diversity and inclusion is now pretty much universally in favour of a judicial and legal community that reflects the society and communities they serve, opinions continue to differ sharply on the means of achieving this goal. Many view the focus on numbers and data alone as myopic, and as likely to obscure as reveal the reality of diversity in the judiciary and legal profession. Others are simply worried about efforts to manipulate such data, the impact of ranking, identifying “good” and “bad” firms and organizations in simplistic ways, and so forth. In other words, some fear the focus on data may in fact undermine the goal of a more inclusive justice community. The authors disagree. The authors’ view is that, while better practices with respect to collecting and publishing data on diversity will not in and of themselves make the justice community more inclusive, these data represent a necessary first step. The authors also explore blending quantitative and qualitative data together to provide a basis for a better understanding of the progress towards a more inclusive justice community in Canada.

Keywords: diversity, judicial appointment, legal profession, demographic data

JEL Classification: J70, K4, K40

Suggested Citation

Lyon, Sabrina and Sossin, Lorne, Data and Diversity in the Canadian Justice Community (January 21, 2014). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12/2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2389410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2389410

Sabrina Lyon

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Lorne Sossin (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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