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Independent review of systemic discrimination at N.S. Barristers' Society underway

The society opened the process on April 14 with an apology on the main page of its website saying it acknowledges and regrets systemic discrimination in the justice system
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HALIFAX — A former provincial ombudsman heading up an external review of systemic discrimination in the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society says he's aiming to complete his work in eight to 10 months.

Douglas Ruck, a lawyer with background in labour and human rights law, was appointed in April to head up the review and says he is working with the society to determine the resources needed to carry out the work.

He said today the "matter of inequality has been brought to the fore" throughout society, including through the Black Lives Matter movement, and it is the appropriate time to look into ways to improve inclusiveness at the body that regulates the legal profession.

Ruck, who was the sixth Black lawyer to be appointed to the province's bar, says he will assess the information the society has on record on its practices and policies before moving toward making recommendations.

The former provincial ombudsman says the hope is that the Barristers' Society will "lead by example" in its policies, prompting the wider legal profession and the senior law firms of the province to follow suit.

The society opened the process on April 14 with an apology on the main page of its website saying it acknowledges and regrets systemic discrimination in the justice system.

The organization defines systemic racism as systems that give unfair opportunities or disadvantages to some groups in society, noting the mistreatment of Indigenous and Black communities during the province's history.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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