LEGAL ETHICS AND THE PROMOTION OF SUBSTANTIVE EQUALITY
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Conduct recognizes the commitment of the legal profession to protect the public interest and respect the requirements of human rights laws. Following in the wake of the Statement of Principles controversy at the Law Society of Ontario, this article argues that the standard conception of lawyers’ professional role morality in Canada—the neutral partisan—takes a thin and “bleached out” view of legal ethics. In making this case, the article reads the limited body of professional discipline caselaw through the lens of critical theory to show that current practices of lawyer regulation pertaining to human rights and equality are underinclusive. Next, the article argues that lawyers have a positive obligation to promote substantive equality in their professional life and work. This obligation should be reflected by revisions to the Model Code and other professional regulatory measures to ensure that law societies take a comprehensive and systematic approach to promoting substantive equality within their mandate. As such, the purpose of the article is to shift the terms of professional debate about what protecting the public interest and respecting the requirements of human rights laws mean.
Keywords:Legal Ethics, Substantive Equality, Model Code of Professional Conduct, Statement of Principles, Role Morality, Ethical Economy, Human Rights, Professional Responsibility, Standard Conception, Neutral Partisan, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Legal Theory
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