CBA Policy on Speaker Selection

Updated November 19, 2015

Policy Goal

The purpose of this policy is to ensure fairness and transparency in the process of selecting speakers, presenters and facilitators for in-person conferences and online programs offered through the Professional Development Department of the Canadian Bar Association.

This policy is complimentary to the CBA Conference Development Manual, as updated, and should be considered when consulting the CBA Conference Development Manual.

This policy will also be provided to incoming and current Section Chairs, who should consult this policy in selecting speakers for Section-led conferences or programs.

The guidelines set out in this policy are intended to assist organizers of professional development programs, staff, Program Chairs, Organizing Committee members, and Section Chairs, in selecting the speakers for the Canadian Bar Association’s high quality and relevant professional development offerings.


The primary criteria for selection should be a proposed speaker’s qualifications and ability to communicate effectively. In addition, the Canadian Bar Association considers diversity (including but not limited to, representation for gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background, language, sexual orientation, disability and geography) to be an important goal, and the CBA’s policies requiring diversity apply equally to speaker selection for programs and conferences. See for example, the CBA’s “Diversity in Leadership” initiative (supported by CBA Bylaw No.1 and Resolution 14-12-A) and the “Touchstones for Change” report.

The following criteria should be considered, taking into account the specific context of a program, in proposing and selecting speakers at professional development programs offered by the Canadian Bar Association, whether in-person conferences or online programs:

  • Be recognized leaders in their field
  • Reflect diversity (including but not limited to, representation and balance for gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background, language, sexual orientation, disability, and geography)
  • Have substantial subject matter expertise, as recognized by their peers
  • Demonstrably possess the education and experience necessary to capably and effectively communicate their message to an audience
  • Have a positive reputation within the legal community
  • Have proven reliability in meeting deadlines
  • Have ability and experience in conducting interactive learning in an in-person or distance learning environment
  • Where they are eligible, be current members of the Canadian Bar Association


When program proposals are approved by the Professional Development Committee, the Speaker Selection Criteria will be incorporated as a condition in the program approval memo, and will apply to all program and conference organizing committees, as well as staff-initiated programs.

This policy shall be provided to incoming and current Section Chairs, at the time of orientation or, when appropriate, during Section Chairs’ consultations with the Professional Development Committee on speaker selection.

If an individual who wishes to speak at a program or conference feels that the Speaker Selection Criteria were not applied fairly and transparently, that individual can request that the Professional Development Committee review a program speaker lineup. At its discretion, the Professional Development Committee may consult with other Committees, i.e. the Equality Committee, if such consultation will be of relevance and assistance in its review.

Such a review will be limited to whether the Speaker Selection Criteria were applied fairly and transparently by the program or conference organizing committee and staff, or Section Chair, if applicable. If the Professional Development Committee decides that the Criteria were not applied appropriately, the matter will be referred back to the organizing committee or staff, or Section Chair, if applicable, setting out issues to be addressed.