Canada’s first Certified Specialist Program in Indigenous legal issues launches

Posted: 06/23/2016

Certified Specialist ProgramThe 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 intercultural competence, will soon be able to apply to be recognized as a leader in their field.

The Program was developed as part of the Law Society’s priority to better meet the legal needs of Indigenous peoples.

“This new specialty provides an added dimension to a unique and increasingly important area of law,” said Law Society Treasurer Paul Schabas. “Not only will successful applicants establish their legal expertise, they will also demonstrate their thorough understanding of and respect for Indigenous perspectives.”

The standards for the Indigenous legal issues specialty were developed over three years. During this 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.

This new 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,” said 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.”