South Asians in the Profession in 1970’s
In about the early seventies there were about 20 to 30 lawyers of South Asian origin in the Toronto area. South Asians would include Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Pakistani and people from that region including those having that cultural background but raised in East Africa, West Indies, Guyana, Fiji, South Africa and other parts of the world. It is very important that we make this organization an inclusive one where we include lawyers of different geographic areas of South East Asia.
This number grew steadily in eighties and nineties and today I would estimate that there are about 400 lawyers of South Asian Origin in Ontario, mostly in the Toronto area, and another about 400 lawyers across Canada, making a total of about 800 South Asian Lawyers across Canada. There is therefore a very good potential for these lawyers to share their common heritage and background and work together and achieve much more than what each one can do on his own.
Image building -Vern Krishna
The image of South Asians has improved considerably in the larger Canadian community and along with that the image of South Asian Lawyers also has improved. This is substantially assisted by the advancements of Indian economy and image that India created around the world, specially the western world. South Asians now occupy many key positions in Canadian Society and by and large are very integrated and accomplished a group in Canada.
The image of South Asian Laywer’s is considerably better today than it ever was over the last 35 years, but not quite yet what it should be. In about year 2000 Mr. Vern Krishna, a professor of law became the Treasurer of Law Society. This boosted the image of South Asian lawyers considerably. The image has also been helped by the efforts of the Law Society through the Equity Department of the Law Society.
History of Law Society
The existence of the Law Society of Upper Canada goes back to over 200 years. The Law Society Membership has also undergone many changes in the past 40 years. From a group of predominantly lawyers of Anglo Saxon origin and mostly male, there are now lawyers from both genders and many different nationalities who are practicing members of the profession. The most profound change in the attitude of the law society administration happened in 1996 when Susan Elliot was elected as the Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. She was the first woman Treasurer in the history of the Ontario Law Society. This was a historic change. A report was prepared at that time and the Law Society undertook measures to make the law society more open and inclusive of the minorities.