Five Questions with In-House Counsel: Charlene Theodore

Charlene Theodore

A graduate of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, Ms. Theodore is a lawyer with a background in public policy and government relations. She started her career with the African Canadian Legal Clinic, advocating against hate crimes and racism before UN, federal and provincial committees.  She then went on to represent unions, acting as Counsel to the Ontario Nurses' Association, and then the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA).  At OECTA, her practice involves providing strategic advice to management and staff on the impact of legislative and regulatory changes in the education sector and providing legal assistance to teachers who are disabled or injured at work. Ms. Theodore also advises on issues related to benefits and pensions.

Ms. Theodore is the 2nd Vice President of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA), Past Chair of the OBA Equality Committee, and a member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.  She speaks frequently on issues related to race, diversity, and gender.


  1. Why did you decide to become an In-House Counsel?

    "I was fortunate enough to secure an In-House role right after articling. As a young lawyer, I wasn't aware of any In-House roles other than the traditional model of solicitor work. At the time, I was surprised to discover an in-house role where I could focus primarily on litigation and arbitration."
  2. Is the role of In-House Counsel changing? And if yes, how so?

    "Absolutely. There are a growing number of practice areas being moved in house. In addition, smaller organizations are recognizing the value of bringing some legal functions in-house. There were no in-house role in my organization is less than 10 years old."
  3. What is one of your favourite moments in your legal career?

    "Presenting a report to The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. CERD is a body of the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee serves the important function of monitoring global compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The opportunity to play a role in shedding a light on hate crimes, and anti-Black racism in Canada was humbling and rewarding."
  4. How are you leveraging legal technology?

    "The technological innovation that helps me most with time management isn't exclusively for legal environments. I'm a big fan of IFTT recipes. Being able to automate multiple functions and tasks takes lot off of my plate on a daily basis."
  5. If you had a magic wand and you could change one thing about the legal industry, what would it be?

    "Well since I'm the one in possession of this wand, I'm granting myself the ability to fix more than one problem. I'd wave my wand over the articling crisis, the inequities facing women and racialized lawyers, and take a stab at fixing judicial diversity in this country."


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