Firm policies and initiatives that foster inclusion.
We celebrate our differences in myriad ways — from high-impact external events to quiet conversations about what matters most to each of us.
Blakes has been a leading business law firm in Canada for more than 160 years. The plurality of voices that inform our policies and actions reflect the diversity of our people, our clients and our communities. We are committed to providing a workplace environment rich in perspectives, backgrounds, identities and cultures, because that’s how we work best.
We offer several training programs to legal professionals and supervisors, including workshops related to unconscious bias, cross-cultural competence and inclusive leadership, allyship and mentoring in a diverse workplace. Blakes also offers training for our legal professionals on interviewing candidates without bias or discrimination. Our thorough orientation for new hires includes discussions about culture, professionalism and commitment to teamwork, along with diversity and inclusion, pro bono and community initiatives. We have hired an outside consultant to look at our recruitment results and interview candidates who had in-firm interviews ― whether or not they decide to join us ― to ensure that our process is inclusive.
Our goal is to ensure that everyone beginning a career with Blakes is positioned to become leaders at our Firm and in the legal community. Best intentions are not enough ― nor is it sufficient to recruit diverse talent without breaking down cultural barriers and biases. Blakes implemented the Blakes Work Allocation System in many of our larger practice groups to facilitate the equitable distribution of work assignments and opportunities. A dedicated team tracks and manages the allocation system to ensure that each junior associate gains experience in key areas of practice and exposure to collaborating with a variety of lawyers. This has been an important step to ensure that each of our junior associates is on an even playing field to gain a broad range of experiences, benefits from relationship-building and mentorship with multiple partners and senior associates, and enjoys a successful legal career. Given the success of this approach, we are rolling out the program to other practice groups.
We believe that the mental health of our people must be a focus in a profession where we are valued for our intellect and perceived toughness. We regularly host external experts to lead discussions on mental health topics including stress, resilience, nurturing connection and other issues that may arise at home and work. We are also active participants in Bell Let’s Talk Day, working to fight stigma and improve access to mental health care.
The Blakes Diversity Network members include Blakes students, associates and partners from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds interested in promoting diversity within the Firm and the broader legal profession. The network identifies business development and leadership opportunities for diverse lawyers and hosts professional development and client networking events.
A group of Blakes associates launched this initiative with strong Firm support. The program is open to associates in their first three years of practice interested in discussing issues related to race, sexual orientation, disability, gender and socioeconomic background. Blakes partners, Firm leadership and guest speakers are periodically invited to join these discussions. By coming together to acknowledge and openly discuss issues and opportunities for diverse lawyers, participants find support and guidance that contribute to their success at Blakes. This group offers important feedback on their experience and ways in which we can best support our people. The program has been expanded to include summer student and articling student editions of Diversi-Tea.
Blakes is a founding member of the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN) and a signatory to its Statement of Principles. LFDIN is a group of Canadian law firms that have agreed to work together to promote diversity and encourage a culture of inclusion in our firms and the broader legal profession. Diversity is a core value for LFDIN members, who believe that valuing and enhancing diversity and inclusion will help attract and retain the best talent and better serve clients’ needs in an evolving global marketplace.
Blakes is a proud supporter of a number of diverse student organizations and diverse professional associations. Our support takes the form of financial contributions, hosting events, providing speakers, acting as pro bono counsel, and supporting our lawyers,summer and articling students active in these organizations. Organizations we support include:
Level (formerly known as Canadian Lawyers Abroad)
Ascend Canada & Pan-Asian Leaders
The BlackNorth Initiative Law Firm Pledge
Blakes is committed to addressing and combating anti-Black and other forms of racism in the legal profession. Our Firm, alongside other firms, signed the BlackNorth Initiative Law Firm Pledge because of our individual and collective commitment to achieve the goals set out in the pledge and to deliver on these concrete, measurable actions that will effect meaningful change. Read the announcement.