CAN Coaches and Advisors learn the importance of cultural competence

Posted: 04/17/2019

Guest post by Jennifer Quito

On April 5, 2019, the Law Society’s Coach and Advisor Network (CAN) hosted a Coaching and Cultural Competence Workshop at Osgoode Hall. It was created and led by Pamela Chapman and Moya Teklu, experts in the field of equity, diversity and inclusion. The workshop was tailored to support coaches, advisors, mentors and other leaders in the important work that they do with their colleagues and clients in the professions. It was well-attended, both in-person and over the webcast, and qualified for three hours of EDI professionalism content.

CAN Workshop on April 5

CAN volunteers learning about cultural competence. (April 5, 2019)

Ms. Chapman and Ms. Teklu made a compelling case for cultural competence as a vital part of a lawyer or paralegal’s skill set that can be learned and practised through continual reflection and action. Over the course of the three-hour workshop, enhanced by videos and group activities, a variety of topics were covered, including: cultural competence and its relation to the Rules of Professional Conduct, implicit bias, cultural homophily, power and privilege, micro-aggressions, and allyship. The importance of cultural competence in creating and maintaining effective coaching, advising and mentoring relationships was also unpacked and discussed.

CAN Workshop on April 5

Workshop presenter Pamela Chapman interacts with an attendee. (April 5, 2019)

The workshop topics offered points of reflection and illumination for many of the participants. “It wasn’t until I participated in this workshop that I could actually reflect on my development as a lawyer, licensing candidate and law student in Ontario,” a CAN volunteer said. “I realized that I have been subject to, and perhaps been guilty myself, of micro-aggressions. I particularly liked learning about the ‘Ally’ figure. Legal workplaces should promote allyship to assist with mitigating micro-aggressions in legal workplaces.”

CAN Workshop April 5

Workshop presenter Moya Teklu explains the relationship between cultural competence and Professional Conduct. (April 5, 2019)

Another CAN Coach described how the workshop will impact his future work: “Going forward, I will be mindful of the challenges, whether explicit or hidden, that my colleagues may face, and to offer support and mentorship even if it’s not specifically requested.”

By linking equity, diversity and inclusion to coaching and advising, this workshop offered attendees theoretical, as well as practical grounding in cultural competence. It was an important piece among the slate of events and training programs developed by CAN to support its volunteers and stakeholders. As another CAN participant described it, “This workshop is crucial for anyone participating in our justice system.”

If you are interested in joining CAN’s roster of volunteers, please apply here.

Jennifer Quito is Counsel and Team Manager in the Law Society’s Practice Supports and Resources Department. She is responsible for the oversight of the CAN program. Jennifer looks forward to connecting with CAN volunteers and creating new opportunities to engage with the professions.