Barbara Murchie

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

Competence – Governing in the public interest means licensing lawyers who have the competencies required for licensing today. We have decided that articling or the LPP are required for licensing. Next we consider whether the current multiple choice exams are sufficient or whether there should be testing for practice skills as well. I favour fair and objective skills exams.

Fostering Innovation and Access to Justice – we all face increasing pressure to provide legal services more cost-effectively or pro bono. At the same time, we face increasing competition, including from internet providers. Benchers need to decide how to encourage and support the technological changes we must all make to stay relevant and affordable.

Women and Diversity – We know our professions are not immune to harassment and discrimination. Why wait for our own “Me Too” moment that brings shame on us all. I support the LSO initiatives to increase equality and respect for racialized lawyers and all equality-seeking groups. It is also time to revisit Justicia and check on retention and progress of women in private practice.

Background

I was raised and schooled in New Liskeard, a small town in northern Ontario. I left for undergrad at UofT, an option not open to my parents. A weekend waitressing job during school led to an interview when I graduated and a mini-career in television production. Heady days. But law school beckoned. Freelance work using those production skills allowed me to graduate from Osgoode in 1984 with minimal debt.

I have practised civil, commercial and then intellectual property litigation in small and large firms For over 30 years. I am currently at Bennett Jones LLP. As a bencher since 2011, my priorities have been: adjudicating; competence; tribunal reform,and; women in the profession. I am also a director on the LawPro board. I have been teaching and mentoring throughout my career. I am a member of the OBA and the Advocates’ Society. I am a former chair and director of Casey House Foundation and Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Enjoy this candidate’s “Of Counsel” interview while you read more about them!

Candidates I support

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Something the LSO doesn't do that it should start doing

website

Electmurchie.com

email

Murchieb@bennettjones.com

social media

All Candidates were invited to comment on any or all of the following topics

Expand to read Barbara's views
Pro bono helps but it’s not the answer. The justice system is cumbersome. It needs to change. Until the government invests in technology that simplies the system and makes justice accessible, we are limited in what we can do. The LSO can encourage lawyers to use technology to deliver services faster and cheaper and can support lawyers who are prepared to make that transition. Once the Technology Task Force reports, we need to discuss how we can most effectively facilitate change.
Expand to read Barbara's views
There are more steps to be taken.
Expand to read Barbara's views
The cost is prohibitively high but the LSO does not have jurisdiction to set tuition fees or require law schools to reduce them.
Expand to read Barbara's views
I supported the SOP. I see it as a reminder of our obligation to ensure workplaces and professional relationships are fair and respectful. I think we’re better to lead on this issue than to wait for our own “Me Too” moment and the shame it will bring on the profession. I moved the motion to clarify the SOP as it had caused confusion in the profession. We settled on the Guidelines which clarify the requirement. Some lawyers disagree with the SOP which is their right. They see the LSO as exceeding its jurisdiction and acting in a manner that is unconstitutional. The matter is now before the courts which is the best venue for resolving this conflict.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

Expand to read Barbara's views
AI will become more and more available whether from Canadian providers or elsewhere. The Technology Task Force is considering if and how to regulate either it or lawyers who use it. This is an important public protection issue. It is also an Acces to Justice opportunity.
Expand to read Barbara's views
I supported maintaining the articling requirement for licensing. I also supported the continuation of the LPP option. The next step is determining if licensing exams will be limited to multiple choice exams as they are now or extended to require testing of practice skills like drafting an opinion letter, identifying options to resolve a client problem and conducting an interview. I am in favour of fair and objective skills testing.
Expand to read Barbara's views
Support
Expand to read Barbara's views
Entity regulation is necessary in this marketplace. It allows clients recourse against the firms they hired, allows the firm to assume certain reporting obligations directly and allows the firm to be charged with discipline offences that are more appropriately firm responsibility.
Expand to read Barbara's views
I’m not sure that a rule change is required but we will be looking at this issue in the next bencher term.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

Expand to read Barbara's views
I support the current LSO initiatives. At the Tribunal, we are in the process of changing our rules to better provide accommodation for all vulnerable witnesses.
Expand to read Barbara's views
Expand to read Barbara's views

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

Expand to read Barbara's views
Supported them. Our data shows that the significant majority of articling positions are in fair and respectful work environments that teach practice skills. The goal should be to identify and eliminate any that don’t meet that criteria.
Expand to read Barbara's views
Yes. LSO should offer the more challenging CPD and leave most of the bread-and-butter CPD to its competitors.
Expand to read Barbara's views
Practice supports, Help Line, Member Assistance Plan, Coach and Mentoring Service, Discrimination and Harassment Counsel, CPD. Reports indicate that spot audits and practice audits are very helpful to licensees. We should work on improving these resources as required.
Expand to read Barbara's views
The changes we are proposing to make to the Tribunal Rules will provide accommodation for all vulnerable witnesses.
Expand to read Barbara's views
Competence and discipline are core responsibilities that consume the largest part of our revenue. These two areas are key public protection measures and must remain our priorities.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

Expand to read Barbara's views
The current priority is implementing the Recommendations from the Racialized Lawyers Report which, pursuant to a motion moved by me, were extended to all equality-seeking groups. We need to let these recommendations work. On Retention of Womem in the Profession, it’s time to revisit the Justicia Project, publish current stats on retention and update the Justicia materials.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

Expand to read Barbara's views
Scope of practice must be limited by education and competence as required by the public interest. Any expansion, even to provide A2J, must serve the public interest in having access to competent legal assistance.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

Expand to read Barbara's views
I support current funding. I’m from a small town. I know how important local libraries can be.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

Expand to read Barbara's views

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

Expand to read Barbara's views

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

Expand to read Barbara's views

Endorsements of this candidate

Some candidates have chosen to provide lists of the people supporting their candidacy

Expand to see this Candidate's endorsements
Malcolm Mercier, Laurie Pawlitza, Alf Kwinter, Dominique Hussey, Alan Lenczner, Ranjan Agarwal, Tanya Walker, Constance Backhouse, Susan Richer, Tom Conway, Carol Hartman, Susan McGrath, Andrew Murray, Jacqueline Horvat