Law Society launches Canada's first Certified Specialist Program in Indigenous legal issues

Cultural competence key component of new program to recognize leading lawyers in Indigenous legal field

TORONTO, June 23, 2016 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada has launched Canada's first Certified Specialist Program in Indigenous legal issues. Ontario lawyers with the appropriate expertise, including demonstrated inter-cultural competence, will soon be able to apply to be recognized as a leader in their field.

"This new specialty provides an added dimension to a unique and increasingly important area of law. Not only will successful applicants establish their legal expertise, they will also demonstrate their thorough understanding of and respect for Indigenous perspectives," says Law Society Treasurer Paul Schabas. "The program is an important part of the Law Society's priority to better meet the legal needs of Indigenous peoples through enhanced cultural competence in the legal professions."

The standards for the Indigenous legal issues specialty were developed over three years through a rigorous process. The Law Society called upon the expertise of working groups, which included practitioners and subject matter experts from a variety of geographic and practice areas. There was strong participation from the Indigenous bar within each working group.

The new Indigenous specialist program includes three subspecialties, each with its own set of experience, knowledge and skills standards:

  1. Rights and Governance;
  2. Litigation and Advocacy; and
  3. Corporate and Commercial.

Intercultural competencies are integrated throughout the specialty standards. Applicants must submit a brief statement confirming that they have obtained a significant understanding of Indigenous cultures, perspectives and contexts in their work to date. Applicants are also required to submit a reference from an Indigenous community member.

"The initial response from stakeholders has been extremely positive and confirms that the standards of experience and knowledge for the program will ensure certified specialist lawyers are highly equipped to serve the legal needs of Indigenous peoples," says Janet Leiper, chair of the Certified Specialist Board. "I commend the members of the working groups for their efforts and thank all those who have contributed to creating this specialty."

Implementation of the program will continue over the summer months and the application process will be open to all Ontario lawyers in the fall.

The Indigenous legal issues specialty is the 16th specialty area of the Law Society's Certified Specialist Program, which recognizes lawyers who have met established standards of experience and knowledge requirements in one or more designated areas of law, and have maintained exemplary standards of professional practice.

The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates lawyers and paralegals in the public interest. The Law Society is committed to helping people with their legal needs and supporting the advancement of reconciliation. More information is available at 

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Media contact: Denise McCourtie, Communications Advisor,, or 416-947-3362. Follow us on Twitter @LawsocietyLSUC


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