Out with the old, in with the new...


Out with the old, in with the new...

We are nearing the end of 2020, and what a year it has been! The one silver lining has been the movement within the justice system to embrace new technologies and process that allow legal services and court matters to resume during the pandemic. CBABC continues to advocate for initiatives to ensure that legal services are accessible during these challenging times. In this issue, the Advocacy Update announces some changes and highlights the advocacy plans of SOGIC, the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Community in CBABC.

As described in the Executive Director’s column, CBABC will launch An Agenda for Justice 2021 in January based on member submissions. Before the end of the year, members will find new CBABC web pages with curated Legislative Updates, Calls for Consultation, and CBABC Submissions. It is now easier to learn about issues of interest to you, engage with your colleagues to develop CBABC positions, and read our Submissions. As always, send your feedback to feedback@cbabc.org.

SOGIC exists to address the needs and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited, non-binary, intersex, asexual, polyamorous, and other sexual or gender minority people within the CBA. This year, SOGIC focusses its advocacy around three core themes:

  1. Calling for designated legal aid measures for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, non-binary, polyamorous, and other sexual minorities community;
  2. Understanding more about the interaction of people in this community with the legal profession and the justice system; and
  3. Greater inclusion of individuals from this community within the legal profession.

First, SOGIC built on SOGIC’s past submission to the Review of Legal Aid Services by preparing a submission included in An Agenda for Justice 2021. It calls for funding to establish a legal aid clinic for this community, provide SOGIC competency training to existing legal aid service providers and administrators, and additional resources for legal aid providers who support, serve, and represent the community.

SOGIC made a second recommendation for An Agenda for Justice 2021 calling for a more thorough collection of disaggregated data on variables such as race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This information will increase understanding about how this community and other disadvantaged communities interact within the legal community and the wider justice system. This seeks to amplify the recent report of BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner calling for legislative reform to better collect this data and immediate steps to begin collecting such data in key priority areas.

Finally, SOGIC is undertaking several advocacy initiatives aiming to improve inclusion for its members within the legal profession. These include ongoing consultation with the Law Society of BC for improvements to the Professional Legal Training Programs. SOGIC is also liaising with the Vancouver Bar Association to add gender neutral spaces to the Vancouver Courthouse Barrister’s Lounge and is advocating for gender neutral and accessible washrooms in BC courthouses generally.

SOGIC sees the recent provincial election and the reconvening of the Legislature as an excellent opportunity for reinvigorated advocacy on a wide range of policy issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, non-binary, polyamorous, and other sexual minorities community, and always welcomes input and collaboration from its members and allies, and wider community stakeholders on all of its advocacy initiatives. Send your comments to feedback@cbabc.org.

As CBABC members look forward to 2021, we must remember that it is those who adapt to a situation who will thrive and even flourish. And with that in mind, Access to Justice Week January 24-30 will highlight lawyers who are using non-traditional programs, business models and resources to better serve our communities. These innovators (and disrupters) are part of a new breed of legal professionals who use a more client-focused approach in delivering legal services to their clients. Watch News + Jobs for details!