July 7, 2021
"My Experience" Project: Weekly Submissions
Over the past few months, we have been featuring submissions in our eBulletins collected through the “My Experience” Project. We encourage you to read each experience in its entirety, so it is viewed the way the participant intended.

This is the last week that we'll be sharing these experiences in an eBulletin but they will remain available to read on our Law Society Listens website. The opportunity to complete self-reflection questions or submit your own experience will remain open over the summer. We are appreciative of the amount of time, effort and courage every participant put in to providing their submissions, as this provides us with real-life examples of discrimination and harassment that has taken, and is still taking place in Alberta. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee is progressing to the next phase of work in relation to the project, of analysing the experiences and themes identified through this project to inform the allocation of resources, policies, programming, and other areas within our regulatory jurisdiction. We will keep you informed on this related work as it moves forward.

Content Notice: The “My Experience” submissions discuss multiple forms of trauma, including systemic racism, sexual prejudice, microaggressions and mental health. Some of this material may be triggering or challenging to engage with. Please review at your individual comfort and safety level. We invite you to use the self-reflection questions to better understand your own feelings and instances where you have faced, witnessed or even contributed to similar experiences. If you need to talk to someone or need support, we encourage you to reach out to the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist).
"I entered [a university in Alberta] in the late seventies. I came back and obtained a law degree in 1991. I was the only black person in law school. Yet my experience was excellent. My professors were great and my classmates were great. I do not recall a single occasion that made me feel uncomfortable or made me feel like I was being treated differently because I am a visible minority. I have had my own law firm now for over twenty years, and I continue to feel blessed to live in [Alberta], and to be a Canadian. My colleagues treat me like I expect to be treated and judges I have come across, at all levels, are some of the nicest people that I have ever known. I know that visible minorities and new immigrants have not always felt welcome in [Alberta], but I do not believe that we continue to have any significant difficulties.

There will always be people who pick on other people who look different from them, and some of these people may even be lawyers or law students. However, my daily experience is that these negative encounters do not reflect where we are as a society. I hope that the discrimination felt by others are replaced by more pleasant memories..."

"...It is hard to read, every week, the ways we get held back professionally because of the colour of our skin. It’s 2021, we all have postsecondary degrees, and we’re STILL dealing with this. It’s tiring because it’s less our problem to overcome, and more yours. Yet, we’re the ones having the sleepless nights concerned about how your biased actions affect us, daily. It’s you that must figure out how to look at us and not immediately think 'Other'. Or, 'threat'. Or, 'not capable'. Or, 'not worthy of my time'. Or, 'uneducated'. Or, 'too much'. Or, 'too little'. Or, 'not a good personality fit'. Or, 'can’t let them get ahead'. Or, 'not on equal footing with that junior white associate who I grab beers with each week'. I could go on.

I experienced several discriminatory actions at one of my past firms, which was unsurprisingly made up of a full white leadership. In an increasingly “woke” era with experts, pundits, newspersons, scholars, educators, etc., recognizing, advertising, and advocating that racialized individuals live and work in your world and are marginalized, that firm doubled down on its commitment bias and favouritism. Troubling, given the era we are in. I left that firm after I realized that behind the scenes politics and politicians were determined to not let me have the same opportunities as my lateral colleagues. I left because I concluded that they were not my people, and unconscious bias would prevail there no matter how long I stayed. I am grateful for the catalyzing events that guided me out..."

Adjournment Digital Service Launched
Resolution and Court Administration Services is pleased to advise of the launch of Justice Digital's Adjournment Digital Service (ADS). The initial release of this service will focus on Provincial Court Criminal Adult cases.

Under Budget 2019, the Government of Alberta allocated $38 million over the next five years to the Justice Digital initiative to create simpler, faster and more cost-effective services for Albertans, the judiciary, legal community, and other justice system users and stakeholders. This initiative is working in collaboration with the Courts and partner ministries to modernize the court and justice services.

ADS will allow defense counsel to make first appearance adjournments online for accused scheduled on a Case Management Office (CMO) docket for Provincial Court Criminal Adult cases, which will streamline our court processes and save counsel a great deal of time.

Select members of the bar have participated in the development and testing of this service since Fall 2020, and ADS was successfully launched in Red Deer and Lethbridge in April 2021. A roll out plan is now in place to allow counsel and court staff at CMO locations across the province to use the service. ADS will be brought to more locations through a phased approach to allow time for any required enhancements.

The rollout schedule is as follows:

  • June 21 — Calgary Regional (Airdrie, Okotoks, Canmore, Cochrane, Turner Valley and Didsbury) 
  • July 19 — Calgary, Fort McMurray
  • July 26 — Medicine Hat, Wetaskiwin
  • August 3 — Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Stony Plain
  • August 9 — Grande Prairie

It is encouraged that all counsel with matters scheduled at CMO locations start taking advantage of this new service immediately when the service goes live in each location as an alternative to making adjournments through the phone, email, or attending in person.

Counsel are asked to submit all initial appearance adjournments related to the following adjournment reasons via ADS:

  • Obtain counsel
  • Obtain disclosure
  • Consult with Crown
  • Consult with client/counsel
  • Accused unavailable

Accessing the Adjournment Digital Service

Counsel can access ADS via Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari web browser. Counsel will be required to self-register and create an account. To register they will need their email address, law firm name, Bar ID and mobile phone number.

Live Demo of Adjournment Digital Service

To learn more about the ADS tool and its benefits, weekly demos have been scheduled each Friday from June to August 2021 between 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. You can access a session via the ADS Counsel Demo link at the scheduled time each week.

If you have any questions, please email Justice Adjournment Support.
Nominations for the 2022 Distinguished Service Awards Now Open
Jointly presented by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Alberta, the Distinguished Service Awards shine a light on the outstanding contributions Alberta lawyers provide.

Award categories include: Service to the Profession, Service to the Community, Legal Scholarship, Pro Bono Legal Service, and Service in Promoting Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession.

Visit the CBA website for more information on eligibility requirements and nomination details.
New Resource: Legal Ethics in a Digital Context
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA)'s Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee has prepared new guidance on legal ethics in technology.

Technology has become an important part of contemporary legal practice. Lawyers should be able to recognize when using technology is needed to provide a legal service effectively and understand how to use technology responsibly and ethically.

This document canvasses a wide range of issues from technological competence, data security, virtual work practices, online marketing and social media (all through a lens of a lawyer's ethical obligations). Those that teach legal ethics/professional responsibility may find it a helpful resource to share with students when covering technology issues.
Provincial Court Announcement

The Camrose courthouse is closed on Wednesday, July 7 due to a power outage. All matters will be spoken to remotely at Wetaskiwin Provincial Courtroom #202. Please call 780.679.1240 if you require further information.
Upcoming Events
Visit our Events page for a full list of upcoming events.