Candidate bio description
Shalini Konanur is the Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO). Shalini went to Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in 2000. She has spent her entire legal career working in Ontario's legal clinic system. Shalini has worked at both rural and urban legal clinics and now spearheads the work of SALCO including test cases at all levels of court, and law reform work domestically and internationally. Shalini has had the privilege of address the United Nations on issues of race and gender equity in Canada, and has served on the province's Roundtable on Violence Against Women, the provincial Anti-Racism Consultative Committee, and the Toronto Police Services Anti-Racism Advisory Panel. Shalini also sits on Legal Aid Ontario's Clinic Advisory Committee. SALCO is also a founding and steering committee member of the Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change, that seeks to address issues of racial justice for communities of colour across Canada. Through COP-C, Shalini has worked on national and provincial campaigns to address the racialization of poverty, gender-based violence in racilaized communities, employment equity, and the collection of dis-aggregated data. Shalini is also leading expert in Canada on the issue of forced marriage. Shalini is the recipient of Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in the Promotion of Women’s Equality, Lexpert Zenith Award: Celebrating Women in the Law, Legal Aid Leader, Canadian Bar Association, Woman of the Year, Social Service Network, York Region, and the Female Lawyer of the Year, South Asian Bar Association.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I was inspired to run for bencher this year to continue the LSO's work on issues of equity including supporting racialized licensees and growing the LSO's work on gender equity. I was also inspired to run to continue the strong link between the LSO and issues of access to justice, including supporting Legal Aid Ontario, supporting the private bar that takes on certificate and pro bono work, promoting diversity on the bench, and supporting the LSO to promote access to justice as critical component of the work that lawyers and paralegals do.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
I believe that as our bar gets increasingly diverse we need to ensure that equity is the foundation by which licensees can have a diversity of opportunities to practice law. I believe that the LSo shoudl show strong leadership on this. I also believe that we must focus on enhancing support for lawyers and paralegals who provide service to some of our most vulnerable populations (low-income, clients with mental health issues, clients facing discrimination, clients facing violence, etc...). Many lawyers and paralegals take on extraordinary work to support clients through volunteerism, pro bono work, test cases, legal aid certificates, and clinic work. As a bencher, I would push for the LSO to promote access to justice.
What would be your first priority upon election?
Ensuring that the recommendations in the report on Challenges Facing Racialized Licensees are met. I understand that there are a group of potential benchers that will be campaigning to do away with certain recommendations from this report (ex: The Statement of Principles). I want to ensure that the recommendations from this report do not get derailed. I also want to grow the LSO's work on equity.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I hope to continue to move the conversation forward on issues of equity, including a review of the supports needed to advance gender equity within the profession. I also hope to strengthen the LSO's position on access to justice.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Equity is a pressing concern that I have heard from many licensees - issues of wage gaps, lack of access to opportunities, uncertainty / difficulty in getting international credentials accredited, support for sole practitioners / small firms, and diversity on the bench are all concerns that have been raised by many of my colleagues.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Yes - absolutely.