Diversifying the Bar: Lawyers Make History

Early and Diverse Lawyers (L to R): Murray Keyfetz, Grace Hewson, Norman Lickers, K.D. Yip, Lily Sherizen, James Watson  

The Diversifying the Bar: Lawyers Make History project enriches the history of the legal profession in Ontario through the biographies and recorded memories of ground-breaking lawyers of diverse communities.

From 1797, when the Law Society was founded, until the 1970s, anglophone men made up the great majority of the province’s legal profession. Today, more women, people of colour, and individuals from a variety of traditions, cultures and groups are becoming lawyers than ever before. This project recognizes those lawyers of the past and present who were in the vanguard of diversification. Many of them served communities whose access to justice and legal services was otherwise limited. Many were also activists against discrimination, or cultural and social leaders.

The project publications, downloadable below, include nearly three hundred brief biographies. In them, the names, faces, challenges and accomplishments of exceptional men and women enliven our understanding of the history of Ontario's lawyers.

As part of the project, oral history interviews were conducted with twelve individuals from diverse backgrounds. Transcripts of the interviews are available here.

The Diversifying the Bar: Lawyers Make History project is an ongoing project of the Law Society’s Heritage Committee. We request your assistance. Please contact us to suggest the name of a lawyer, add or correct information, or provide comments.

 Downloadable Documents  

Guide to Diversifying the Bar: Lawyers Make History Project Full description of the project, guide to the publications, and historical overview of the legal profession and diverse communities.
Biographies by Diverse Community  Short biographies of early and exceptional Ontario lawyers grouped by name of diverse community.
Biographies by Year of Call, 1797-1940 Short biographies of early and exceptional Ontario lawyers ordered by year called to the bar, from 1797 to 1940. Includes images.

Biographies by Year of Call, 1941 - Present

Short biographies of early and exceptional Ontario lawyers ordered by year called to the bar, from 1941 to present day. Includes images.
Table of Early and Exceptional Lawyers   Table of all lawyers whose biographies appear in the project, ordered by last name. Contains dates of birth and death and name of diverse community.
Women Lawyers Table of all women lawyers whose biographies appear in the project, ordered by year of call to the bar. Contains dates of birth and death and name of diverse community.
Male Lawyers Table of all male lawyers whose biographies appear in the project, ordered by year of call to the bar. Contains dates of birth and death and name of diverse community.
For More Information Reading list, web sites, and other suggestions for further research into the history of the legal profession and diverse communities.
Acknowledgements List of individuals and organizations who provided assistance with the biographies.
About the Project Manager About the Project Manager, Allison Kirk-Montgomery.