Deepa Tailor

Lawyer Candidate – Central West Region

Priorities

The regulation of the legal profession should reflect the demographics of the legal profession and the lawyers within it. I hope to champion initiatives that will support lawyers in sole and small firm practice, recent calls, younger lawyers and women.

I am running for Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario because I want to bring a fresh perspective to how our profession is regulated and represent early-career lawyers in the Law Society’s elected leadership. Despite the vast number of new and recent calls in this profession, we are severely underrepresented within our governing body. The decisions made by the Law Society apply to us nonetheless.

Background

I am a 2014 call to the bar and the founder of Tailor Law Professional Corporation. I began my practice as a first year call and am familiar with the common challenges that lawyers in sole and small firm practice face.

In my spare time, I server on the board of directors for Many Feathers, a non-profit which focuses on creating local community spaces focused on food security in urban and rural settings across Canada. I also enjoy mentoring the next generation of law students through the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program and as a guest speaker at the University of Ottawa’s Business of Law class.

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

Candidates I support

1) Sean Robichaud

2) Isfahan Merali

3) Jayashree Goswami

4) Douglas Judson

5) Orlando Da Silva

6) Caryma Sa’d

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

STOP PROMOTING THE VALUE OF LSO SPECIFICALLY AND START PROMOTING THE VALUE OF LAWYERS AND THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE: The LSO needs to consider the cost-benefit of running their current social media campaigns and whether it actually achieves the goal of promoting the value of lawyers to the public and the services that we provide. I believe there is a need to promote the value of legal services to the general public, however, I don’t think the “Our Society is Your Society” social media campaign achieves that goal.

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

SUPPORT SOLE PROPRIETORS AND LAWYERS IN SMALL FIRMS: The LSO needs to start helping and supporting its membership. In my mind, supporting sole proprietors and small firm lawyers is an access to justice issue. Lawyers in these practices are on the front lines of rendering services to the public and face unique challenges – lack of support for taking parental leave; isolation from other lawyers who can provide precedents, guidance or a listening ear; financial pressures to keep their practices afloat due to non-payment by Legal Aid, continuously increasing licensing fees, clients who skip out on paying their legal bills because “lawyers make a lot of money”; safety and security concerns when disgruntled clients or opposing parties decide to take their frustrations out on you. The LSO needs to recognize that investing in initiatives that help its membership is investing in access to justice because it keeps us in business and providing services to the public. Actionable steps I would like to propose include:

a. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession

b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental

c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations

website

www.tailorlaw.com

email

dtailor@tailorlaw.com

social media

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

Expand to read Deepa's views

The LSO needs to start helping and supporting its membership. In my mind, supporting sole proprietors and small firm lawyers is an access to justice issue. Lawyers in these practices are on the frontlines of rendering services to the public and face unique challenges – lack of support for taking parental leave; isolation from other lawyers who can provide precedents, guidance or a listening ear; financial pressures to keep their practices afloat due to non-payment by Legal Aid, continuously increasing licensing fees, clients who skip out on paying their legal bills because “lawyers make a lot of money”; safety and security concerns when disgruntled clients or opposing parties decide to take their frustrations out on you. The LSO needs to recognize that investing in initiatives that help its membership is investing in access to justice because it keeps us in business and providing services to the public. Actionable steps I would like to propose include: a. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations

Expand to read Deepa's views
The Law Society also needs to streamline operations by adopting modern technology. Our steadily increasing annual fees should not be considered an infinite revenue source for the Law Society. The goal is to streamline processes to obtain a leaner and more cost-effective Law Society by looking at annual revenues generated and reduction of associated costs.
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The LSO needs to listen to younger lawyers and their concerns regarding articling, the LPP and the exorbitant cost of obtaining a legal education. The cost of legal education at existing Canadian law schools is at odds with the access to justice and the public interest mandate of our regulatory body. The Law Society has an obligation to regulate it. The LSO should investigate implementing financial incentives for lawyers to service under serviced areas (such as fee reduction or loan forgiveness if you practice in an under serviced region – similar to doctors)
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I support the statement of principles obligation and the equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives of the Law Society generally. I wish the SOP wasn’t such a controversial topic. We have bigger problems that we should be addressing as a profession.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Advancement in technology is inevitable in all professions. AI will change how we practice law. As a profession, we need to ensure that legal technology available to the public still meets the standards of ethics that we as a profession ascribe to. To that end, I support the use of AI for furthering access to justice and streamlining our inefficient court system.
Expand to read Deepa's views
The Law Society should work with law schools and the Federation of Law Societies to advocate for a practical approach to legal education that encompasses practical training as part of a student’s 3L year (similar to Lakehead’s current model). We currently have a three tiered system (1) conventional articling where the burden of providing practical training is placed on the private bar, (2) the LPP program which is exorbitantly expensive given the current debt most law school students currently graduate from law school with and (3) Lakehead’s model where an equivalent to LPP is taught as part of law school. Students pay exorbitant tuition in order to be able to enter this profession and should be practice ready once they graduate.

The licensing process itself needs to be more practical. A multiple choice bar exam is not sufficient to test for competency to practice law. We should revisit the previous bar admissions course approach and assess practical competencies to render services to the public.

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Unbundled legal services is one way that we can facilitate access to justice within the profession. I see it as the Law Society’s role to ensure that lawyers who are rendering unbundled legal services are correctly outlining the scope of the service within their retainer agreements with the client. Boilerplate retainer agreement precedents for unbundled legal services provided by the Law Society would be helpful.

Expand to read Deepa's views
Entity based regulation is critical. Currently firms themselves don’t fall under direct oversight by LSO, which is a gap in our current regulatory regime that should be rectified. Having said that, the Law Society needs to be mindful of how regulatory changes will impact small firms, especially those rendering services in rural communities. While there is a need for oversight of law firms, onerous regulatory requirements and more audits are not the answer.
Expand to read Deepa's views
Technological competence will becoming increasingly more important with the advancement of artificial intelligence. Having said that, we should consider the impact regulation will have on sole proprietors and lawyers in small firms before implementing direct regulation over this matter. Lawyers who require technology to streamline their practice will learn and use the technology. Lawyers who don’t require it won’t. Lawyers can still competently render legal services without the assistance of technology.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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I support the LSO’s initiatives to recognize and integrate indigenous communities. I see value in integrating indigenous legal perspectives and traditions into our current systems of law. If we want to support indigenous communities we need lawyers who can render services to those communities. The LSO should consider lowering the barrier to entry for lawyers who will provide services to indigenous communities.

Expand to read Deepa's views
I do not support alternative business structures and non-lawyer owned law firms. There are serious concerns regarding conflicts of interest that may arise and how lawyers can continue to maintain their professional obligations to the profession. I also don’t believe it will result in advancing access to justice initiatives.
Expand to read Deepa's views
Provided that a lawyer is still maintaining their professional ethics obligations, how a lawyer markets their practice should be left to their discretion. As long as fee arrangements are clearly disclosed to clients, fee arrangements should also be left to the discretion of lawyers.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Expand to read Deepa's views
Yes. The online service delivery of CPDs through LSO is a relatively affordable and accessible means for lawyers practicing outside of Toronto to obtain valuable CPD materials. Competency of the profession is core to the LSO’s mandate. Revenues generated from CPD programs also contributes to the cost of running the Law Society. Without LSO CPD programs annual fees for lawyers will increase.
Expand to read Deepa's views
Alleviating some of the financial pressures faced by sole practitioners and lawyers in small firm practice. Specifically:

a. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession
b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental
c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations

I also firmly believe that the LSO can do more to support it’s members to ensure competency instead of the punitive approach the LSO currently takes with respect to regulation.

Expand to read Deepa's views

I support the mental health initiatives put in place by LSO, such as the Members Assistance Program. Lawyers are at the front lines of helping other people with their problems but lack the resources and support required to deal with the trauma associated with rendering these services. In general, the LSO can do more to support it’s membership.

Expand to read Deepa's views
The Law Society also needs to streamline operations by adopting modern technology. Our steadily increasing annual fees should not be considered an infinite revenue source for the Law Society. The goal is to streamline processes to obtain a leaner and more cost-effective Law Society by looking at annual revenues generated and reduction of associated costs.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

Expand to read Deepa's views
I support the statement of principles obligation and the equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives of the Law Society generally. I wish the SOP wasn’t such a controversial topic. We have bigger problems that we should be addressing as a profession.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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It is baffling to me that the LSO has not considered the obvious conflict of interest that will frequently arise if paralegals are allowed to practice in family law unsupervised and with limited appearance privileges. Couples who are separating do not get along. You will not always obtain a negotiated settlement, even if this is the outcome that both parties want. Negotiations frequently fail and as a professional you have to advise your client that they should file an application, sometimes on an emergency basis. A conflict of interest arises if the paralegal is not able to take the matter to court. While we hope that all licensees would act ethically, why create a licensing structure that would create this conflict of interest? In this situation, the client would have to pay twice – once for the paralegal to manage negotiations and once for a lawyer to take the matter to court. It impedes rather than helps access to justice.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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Funding local law libraries and law associations should be a top priority for the LSO. It is a necessary resource for sole practitioners and lawyers in small firms and promotes access to justice.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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The LSO should invest in expanding the Coaching and Advisor Network and developing formal mentorship programs that promotes the transfer of knowledge from senior practitioners to junior lawyers (substantive and practical advice)

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Safety and security of lawyers in solo and small firm practice. This is a topic that is not frequently mentioned but deserves more attention. We receive no guidance from the Law Society as to how to deal with security issues that arise in our practices when we render services to the public in high conflict areas.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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