This week, we are delighted to feature a guest blog from Jenny McMordie, one of Assist’s new board members and long-time volunteers.
JENNY'S EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION CHALLENGE
ASSIST has long been interested in helping us all work through the challenges which can arise during the practice of law and I have benefited from the work of the Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society.
I have also been proud to participate as a volunteer and peer support volunteer for many years. As I have always been interested in reaching out to lawyers in practice and finding out how to make their experiences better in law and life generally, it is my great pleasure recently to have joined the board for ASSIST.
Last year I also joined the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee of the Law Society of Alberta. This committee was struck as part of the ongoing work of the Law Society on EDI issues, and following a survey which revealed that far too many articling students and young lawyers have negative experiences of discrimination, harassment or bullying.
My own path in the legal profession has included an engaging law practice, wonderful file work and enriching volunteer opportunities but it has also included experiences of discrimination, harassment and bullying. Although the colour of my skin and my sexual orientation have not been topics of discrimination, my lack of seniority and my gender sometimes made me a target, particularly during my earlier years of practice.
Because I have lived the feelings of shock, disappointment and self-doubt when I was subjected to inappropriate comments or behaviour, I can only imagine how my experiences would have been negatively compounded were I a member of a racialized group, or part of the LGBTQ2+ community. I want to do what I can to help improve the experiences of others.
I also recognize that, even after 20 years in practice, I still have much to learn about being an ally to those for whom privilege does not pave the way.
I encourage all of you to become familiar with the current EDI initiatives of the Law Society at this link: https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/equity-diversity-and-inclusion-initiatives-update/
I also encourage all young lawyers, articling students, and internationally-trained lawyers (including those not yet called to the Alberta bar), to submit their experiences of discrimination and stereotyping at this link: https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/my-experience-project/.
And for any of you struggling with issues of discrimination, harassment or bullying, all of which could be more difficult during pandemic times, please consider accessing the confidential services such as free counselling and peer support offered through ASSIST.
Friends and Colleagues: the legal world is listening to you. Your community wants to hear from you and to be responsive. Please take this opportunity to share your stories and to help all of us make the practice of law better for each of us and for those who follow.
And a fundraising update from Assist!
Thank you to all of the newly appointed QCs who have chosen to celebrate their accomplishment by making a donation to Assist.
So far, we have raised $16,000 from this campaign!
And Edmonton and Calgary are running neck to neck. Calgary QCs have raised a total of $9000 while Edmonton QCs have raised $7000, and Calgary has a few more QCs so well done, everyone.