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The Canadian Bar Association

Preston Parsons

The CBA and the MeToo movement

MeToo and the pressure of keeping quiet in law

By Preston Parsons February 21, 2018 21 February 2018

MeToo and the pressure of keeping quiet in law

 

As a young, caucasian, cisgender, (gay) male lawyer, I have no experience being on the receiving end in the legal profession of inappropriate sexual remarks, conduct or contact. I am also not in a position to shed light on what frequency male or non-binary members of the profession have endured sexual harassment or assault in the profession.

I wish that based on that, I could say I have nothing to contribute on this topic.

I wish I could say I have never had young female lawyers and articling students pull me aside to confide in me serious incidents of sexual harassment or assault they endured in practice or during their articles.

I wish I could say that those who confided in me found some measure of relief by achieving some measure of justice in the circumstances they endured. Sadly, an example of comeuppance evades me.

As lawyers we hear all manners of things from clients on different topics and have in all but the most exceptional circumstances, professional obligations to hold those statements entirely confidential; to keep what is told to us silent. Keeping silent where friends reported these situations to me was not a professional obligation, but it was insisted upon by those confiding in me. While I was able to assist by lending an open ear, offering support, insisting they were not broken or alone, and highlighting resources that may be helpful, I was not able to reverse the pain they felt or help them see justice for the positions they were placed in, the damage their careers suffered, or the jobs they lost.

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