Balance needed in deciding what order cases are handled

May 29, 2019 By Melody Izadi

Ontario’s Barristers Act allows indirect discrimination at the bar in terms of who can address matters first, leaving younger, visible minority counsel at a disadvantage, Toronto criminal lawyer Melody Izadi tells, visible minority — and some female lawyers — are left cooling their heels for hours in the courtroom while older, often white, male counsel are allowed to speak to their matters first, says Izadi, an associate with Caramanna, Friedberg LLP.

“I think there should be a balance struck between giving respect and deference to our older colleagues who are members of the bar, but also keeping a realistic approach,” she says. Under the Barristers Act, precedence is given to lawyers in the order of the year of their call to the bar.

In courtrooms where the Act is followed, Crowns often only make a visual judgment call, giving priority to apparently more senior lawyers, who are typically older, white males, Izadi says.

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