President’s Report

  • January 14, 2019

I have seen many hotels over the past three months, enough to learn that hotel bathrooms are a hazardous place to navigate after dark.  Figuring out the location of this particular light switch is now right below drop stuff on the bed on the hotel room entry checklist.

Below, you will find information about our annual general meeting and our new resolutions process, information about our new member benefits program, a brief description of recent Branch events I attended, and my regular inclusion moment.

Annual General Meeting

There's No CBA Without YouOur 2019 Annual General Meeting will be held on February 11, 2019, commencing at 1:00 EST.  For the first time ever, you can hear what’s happening and vote on resolutions from your computer.  If you want to participate in the conversation then you can, either in person in Ottawa or through one of the more than 25 hubs established across Canada by our Branches.  What’s important is that you register.  Please click here and take the less than two minutes needed to have your voice heard and vote count.

Also new this year, members can log in and post comments upon the proposed resolutions on a discussion board found here.  This is your opportunity to discuss issues before the meeting starts.  Any proposed amendments must be submitted by January 25th to Tamra L. Thomson, our in-house resolutions queen. To find out more about the process, check out this video.

Member Benefits

Our new CBA Advantage member benefit program has been launched. If you haven’t done so already opt-in now to receive regular email communication on deals and savings. We expect this program to expand over the course of the year with additional suppliers and offers added and deeper discounts available thanks to our new partnership with Meridian One.

Branch Activities

Ray Adlington and Justice Thomas CromwellThe two-day Nova Scotia annual professional development conference was held in Halifax in early December with record attendance this year.  I was given ten minutes at the beginning of the event to welcome all attendees, which really meant I was really just the opening act for my former Evidence Law professor and now retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Cromwell.  Justice Cromwell spoke eloquently for an hour on the legal services gap leading to our growing access to justice problem.  Our Young Lawyers Section hosted the always popular Bench and Bar mixer, at which our retiring Chief Justice was honoured with a spoken word performance celebrating his access to inclusive justice work.  Other highlights included a keynote from World Wildlife Fund Canada President and CEO Megan Leslie, and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to The Honourable Judge Laurie Halfpenny-MacQuarrie.  Judge Halfpenny-MacQuarrie was recognized for her work in opening the Wagmatcook courthouse, the first Canadian superior court on a reserve that will incorporate Indigenous restorative justice traditions and customs.

Human Rights MuseumI found myself in Winnipeg in mid-December for two days where it was more than ten degrees warmer in Winnipeg than it was in Halifax.  This fact did not amuse my wife as much as it amused me.  While there, I had the privilege of touring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  As a tax lawyer, my emotional repertoire is limited but that visit stretched my range leaving me with (as my daughters put it) all the feels.  At Manitoba Bar Council, I was given the opportunity to make a presentation on enhancing diversity in the legal profession.  A copy of my remarks can be found in the Speeches section of the Dispatches page.  I then made a pitch (Dragon’s Den style) to a joint meeting of Bar Council and the Manitoba Law Society Benchers on killing the billable hour to promote access to justice.  While I deservedly lost to an impassioned plea for opening the delivery of legal services to suitably trained professionals other than lawyers that featured a rendition of “Let It Go” and the analogy of pharmacists delivering flu shots, the approach taken to kick off a discussion of one of our two national advocacy priorities for the year was innovative and fun.

Over the next month, I will be attending the Manitoba Mid-Winter Conference, the Saskatchewan Mid-Winter Conference, the British Columbia Bar Council meeting, the Alberta Branch Awards Luncheon and Annual General Meeting, the New Brunswick Mid-Winter Conference, culminating with our national annual general meeting.  I am fortunate that the middle of winter occurs at different times across the country so I can attend so many of these events.

Podcast

Conversations With the PresidentThe Every Lawyer is the new CBA podcast channel, now with seven episodes posted and more coming every other week.  Now included is the first in series called Conversations with the President: Raising the Bar on Inclusion, where I get to speak with Canadian lawyers about their experiences with exclusion so we can collectively work to improve.  The first episode in this series is a conversation with Canadian diversity and inclusion expert Ritu Bhasin, who spent the first decade of her career working in a large Toronto law firm.  You can find The Every Lawyer here or on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Stitcher – wherever you listen to podcasts.  Please subscribe to receive notifications for new episodes.  To hear us in French, listen to our Juriste BranchĂ© podcasts here.

Stay in Touch

I continue to tweet regularly about CBA activities across the country from @RayAdlington.  I will also be occasionally publishing or re-posting interesting articles using LinkedIn to share with our members.  Please engage with me through these channels or by email at president@cba.org anytime this year to discuss anything related to the CBA or our initiatives.

Inclusion Moment

In keeping with my theme for the year of promoting inclusivity within our profession, I will close each report by sharing something I have found thought provoking.  Next up, a quote from the Honourable Justice Jasmine Akbarali at the 4th Annual Diversity Conference held by the Roundtable of Diversity Associations in partnership with the Ontario Bar Association on November 28.  During her remarks, Justice Akbarali stated: “True diversity initiatives are about merit.  Diversity is not antithetical or simply coexistent with merit, it is necessary.  So let’s call it Deservsity.”

The concepts of diversity and merit have been seen in the past as incompatible.  In fact, diversity and inclusivity initiatives protect the theoretical meritocracy from the distortion of bias.  The challenge to the traditionally biased application of the term “merit” that Justice Akbarali has laid down in coining the term “deservsity” recognizes this fact.  As far back as 2010, MIT researchers (paper found here) demonstrated that when an organizational culture promotes meritocracy (compared with when it does not), managers in that organization ironically show greater bias in favor of men over equally performing women in translating employee performance evaluations into rewards and other key career outcomes.  The lesson for us is that we need to remove any level of belief that diversity is somehow compromising merit and substitute that with a conviction that diversity protects merit.

Closing

I wish all of our over 36,000 members a happy, healthy (mentally and physically) and successful 2019.  As a communal New Year’s Resolution, I encourage you to define and pursue success for yourself without reference to standards established by anyone other than you.