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Diversity and Inclusion in the Chambers Canada 2023 Guide

Discover this year’s research insights into Diversity and Inclusion within the legal market in Canada. 

Published on 28 October 2022
Written by James Roberts
James Roberts

Diversity and inclusion an area of focus in Canada

At Chambers & Partners, diversity and inclusion has long been an area of focus for all guides that we produce, and Chambers Canada 2023 was no exception. It is no secret that the legal industry has room for improvement, when it comes to ensuring that there is appropriate representation of individuals from all walks of life in the market.  

Though our guides are undoubtedly constrained by the specific markets they cover, our efforts to recognise the elite legal talent in the industry would be incomplete if we did not take all possible steps to ensure that there were no inherent biases in the process that limited our ability to highlight the most talented lawyers, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other characteristic. All our researchers are provided with specific training to ensure they retain an awareness of the potential for biases to impact the research process and make sure to factor any relevant considerations into their decision-making process. 

While all strands of diversity are important and were at the forefront of our researchers minds, a particular focus for our research process this year was gender - this is because unlike other aspects of diversity, we hold definitive data about the gender that lawyers in the guide identify as, which makes it possible to identify trends and implement initiatives into the process.

Requests vs. Interviews according to gender

 As such, at the outset of research, we made a concerted effort to speak to as close to a 50/50 male/female split in terms of lawyers interviewed this year as possible. Our hope was that this would assist in avoiding any potential “echo chamber” effect and hopefully ensure that any names that maybe weren’t having a spotlight shone on them in the process were more readily identified by our researchers.  

Overall, 45% of the lawyers we requested to speak with were male, 39% were female, and in the remaining 16% of requests, we either didn’t request a specific individual, or we requested that both a male and female lawyer be on the call. In the end, 51% of our interviews were with male lawyers, 34% were with female lawyers and 15% of calls had both a male and female lawyer on the call. The 5% drop from female lawyers interview requests to female lawyers actually interviewed isn’t ideal, but actually compares fairly favourably with similar initiatives in other jurisdictions. 

What were the results of the research?

The result of this initiative, alongside an increased awareness of issues of diversity that our research team has, thanks to dedicated training conducted in-house, was that this year we saw a 3% jump in the proportion of ranked lawyers who identify as female, up to 25.4%. This is double the average 1.4% increase in female representation seen in the guide over the past 3 years. 

This is a very promising trend, but as a guide, we are aware that it is at the top end of the market that female representation has traditionally been weakest. Female representation at the Associate to Watch and Up and Coming rankings sits at 50% and 47% respectively, and though such parity bodes well for improved diversity in the guide in years to come, its important to assess female representation in band 2, band 1 and at star individual. 

Ontario and Alberta outperform most other provinces in Canada

Graph showing proportion of lawyers in these upper brackets that are female | Chambers Canada 2023

The above map gives you an indication of the proportion of lawyers in these upper brackets that are female. Ontario and Alberta outperform most other provinces, with 25% and 20% of highly ranked lawyers in these regions being female, and Saskatchewan actually also performs well by this metric, given that the figure sits at 22.2%. Conversely, Quebec, at 16.7%, and British Columbia, at 13.5%, leave much to be desired, as does Manitoba, where none of the highly ranked lawyers are female. Our belief is that such divergences do reflect to an extent some inherent inequalities in the market, but hopefully by continuing to actively track and address gender issues as part of our research, we will see continuing shifts in this area over time. 

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