CBA Policy on Speaker Selection

Operational policy of the CBA, adopted 2012. Updated November 2015. Approved by Board of Directors November 2019

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 and Events Department of the Canadian Bar Association.

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

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

The guidelines 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 CBA’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 CBA considers diversity (as defined in CBA Bylaw No. 1, article 1) 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 Diversity and Inclusion Policy, the 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 CBA, 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 CBA.


When program proposals are approved by the Professional Development and Events Department, 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 given to incoming and current Section Chairs, at the time of orientation or, when appropriate, during Section Chairs’ consultations with the Professional Development and Events staff on speaker selection.

If a person who wishes to speak at a program or conference feels that the Speaker Selection Criteria were not applied fairly and transparently, they can request that the Equality Subcommittee review a program speaker lineup.

The 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 Equality Subcommittee 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.