The Role of the LSO
Helping lawyers help clients
I believe that a regulator exists to serve. The Law Society of Ontario should be a regulator that, first and foremost, serves its membership. Being a regulator that supports lawyers to provide the best service and attain success will lead to the public best being served. The Law Society of Ontario exists for a number of mandates but rarely alludes to why we are a self-regulating profession: because lawyers in practice understand the needs of who we serve. We can best deal with the unique issues facing our profession and this is best done by lawyers who are in the community, providing service. Making lawyers' lives easier through simpler interaction with the LSO will provide the best service.
Why I want to serve
I am committed to putting in the time to make lawyers' lives better. I intend to be available in the community. I attend functions through my work with FOLA at every Law Association in Central East and commit to continuing this as a bencher so that I am available and reachable as issues arise. My firm logo is a millrind which represents justice and the work that is required for this. I intend to work. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate in reaching out including after hours via email or my cell 705-761-0938.
Better, not more
Ensuring that lawyers provide professional and competent representation is the key mandate of the LSO. Rather than starting initiative after initiative, we need to ensure that the right complaints are being dealt with in the right way. More layers of control are not what is needed but instead a full review to ensure responses proportional to the issues being raised. Lawyers are needlessly stressed by the process that should be able to deal with many issues without requiring the time and energy of the individual lawyer.
Engaging the bar
Real work to reach out to the bar on issues is needed. Simply put, the majority of the bar is not engaged in issues that affects it. Engagement cannot be done in the traditional sense. It is not working. Benchers need to be visible and present to hear the criticism of their actions and work to do better. Engagement of groups to promote equity and diversity needs to be done not simply in statements of principles but through real action. Reviewing the parental leave program, creating opportunities for all peoples who seek a job and determining where assets inside LSO can be reallocated to create a real good and not empty bureaucracy needs to be undertaken.
A better opportunity
Articling is a key component of ensuring competency before students begin practice. Yet not all students get articles that leave them competent. Improving this experience will ensure fewer problems for all of us in the long run. The concept of "minimal competence" as the test for those entering the profession should scare us all and LawPRO too. Ensuring access to articling for all, best education experiences and opportunity through partially funded positions where necessary to draw lawyers to where they are needed in smaller communities are all mandates I would take forward.
Competence before practice
As an instructor in a college paralegal program, I understand the significant problems with competence in our junior profession. We have a responsibility to the public to better delineate the difference between paralegals and lawyers. A strict review of the "special credential" being considered in family law to rename it, educate the public about what a paralegal cannot do and making sure that scope of practice matches education provided is needed. Many paralegals graduate from programs without the skills necessary to perform basic functions yet still become credentialed. This needs to stop.
Efficiency and Efficacy
As stated before, engagement of the bar is at an all-time low. This needs to change. While LSO governs provincially, it needs to be recognized that what works in one part of the province will not in other. Being nimble enough to govern effectively requires this. Making better use of lawyers' time is important, especially with convocation where egos seem to require some to parrot what others have already said more eloquently. I will work to make convocation work for the practicing bar and take ego out of the equation.
To Hear More...
Of Counsel Podcast
Thanks to Sean Robichaud and his Of Counsel Podcast on which you can hear me below.