Gina Papageorgiou

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

1. Complete the implementation of the Challenges Report.
2. Apply the recommendations in the Challenges Report to other equity seeking groups.
3. Complete the review of the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel role and then improve it so that people are more aware of it and so that it is accessible.
4. Complete governance review and in particular, put in place provisions for the election of Benchers called to the Bar up to 10 years, and from 10 to 20 years.
5. Find a way to address escalating education fees paid by young lawyers as this has a direct impact on access to justice. This could involve advocacy to the law schools and to the government.
6. Reduce the annual fees of lawyers who work primarily in the access to justice field, for example legal aid lawyers, sole practitioners and small firm lawyers.
7. Initiate a discussion with law schools about expanding their clinic programs as they are already set up to provide services to Ontarians in need.
8. Successful advocacy to the government resulting in increased legal aid budget and improvements to court processes and simplification of forms.

Background

Current Positions and Appointments

• Sole Practitioner/ Counsel to the Class Proceedings Committee of the Law Foundation of Ontario (beginning 2006)
• M.A.G., Deputy Judge of the Small Claims Court, (beginning 2009)
• Bencher of the L.S.O. (beginning 2015)
• Access to Justice Committee, Vice-Chair (2016 to 2018),
• Adjudicator, LSO Tribunal (2016 to 2018)
• Audit and Finance Committee, Member (2016 to 2018)
• Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee, Vice-Chair (2016 to 2018),
• Government Relations Committee, Member (2015)
• Governance Task Force, Member (beginning 2016)
• Professional Regulation Committee, Member (beginning 2018)
• Treasurers’ Appointments Advisory Committee, Member (2016 to 2018)
• Ontario Justice Education Network (“O.J.E.N.”), Board Member, (beginning June 2018)

Past Positions and Appointments

• McCarthy Tetrault, Litigation Partner (1997 to 2004), Associate (1994 to 1996)
• Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Treasurer (2013 to 2017), Vice-Chair (2011 to 2017) and Board Member (2008 to 2017)
• Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, President (2008-2010), Board Member, (2004 to 2010)
• York University, Special Investigator of Sexual Harassment & Associate General Counsel (2002)
• Stikeman Elliott, Toronto, Litigation Associate and Articling Student (1989 to 1994)
• Stikeman Elliott, Budapest, (Summer 1993)
• York University, Teaching Assistant, Human Rights and Canadian Minorities (2004 to 2006)
• University of Toronto Faculty of Business, Weekly Lecturer in Business Law (1991 to 1993)
• It Takes a Village Syrian Sponsorship Group and Kingsway Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Group, Member (2015 to 2018) (Volunteer)
• Alexandria Park Learning Centre, Literacy Tutor (1990 to 1991) (Volunteer)

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

Candidates I support

Rebecca Durcan, Isfahan Merali, Julia Shin Doi, Jayshree Goswami, Janice Criger, Tanya Walker, Paul Cooper, John Callaghan, Will McDowell, Julian Falconer, Paul Le Vay, Peter Wardle, Diane Corbiere, Barb Murchie, Jonathan Rosenthal

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Expensive lunches

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

Publishing Bencher expenses/remuneration and other costs associated with Convocation

website

ginapapageorgiou.ca

email

papageorgioug@me.com

social media

@gpapageorgiou_

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

Expand to read Gina's views
Public confidence in us will be undermined unless we improve access to justice. To me, access to justice means affordable legal services, a robust legal aid system, and a professional culture that supports pro bono work. It means addressing the barriers to public interest careers caused by the high cost of legal education, and supporting sole practitioners and small firms because of their important role in delivering access to justice. Access to justice also means ensuring that the profession’s growing diversity benefits the clients and communities that we serve. A diverse, inclusive profession that addresses barriers faced by equity-seeking groups, including racialized, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, differently abled, and women lawyers, is a stronger profession that is best able to serve our clients and communities. To address it LSO could:
1. Reduce fees paid by those who serve low income Ontarians
2. Find ways to address the debt burden carried by new lawyers so if they start their own practices, they can charge lower fees.
3. Advocate to the government to increase the legal aid budget.
4. Work with law schools to expand their clinic programs.
5 Become a strong voice for improved court processes, simplification of court forms, and alternate dispute resolution.
6. Support Pro Bono Canada.
7. Continue working to address barriers to equity seeking groups.
Expand to read Gina's views
I was on governance task force and supported governance changes. Future governance reform should include further reduction of the size of Convocation, particular spots for Benchers with less than 10 years experience, and 10 to 20 years experience, review of election process to change aspects which make it more difficult for some groups to get elected, and make Bencher expenses/costs transparent to the public.
Expand to read Gina's views
It is too high. New lawyers carry an unfair burden–a burden that those of my generation never had to carry. This burden inhibits them from pursuing public interest careers where salaries are lower. It inhibits people from entering law school at all. Finally, it ultimately results in higher legal costs paid by the public as lawyers have to charge more money so they can pay their own debts.
Expand to read Gina's views
I support whole heartedly the statement of principles. I am dismayed that this is an election issue and that people feel the need to run on an anti SOP platform. Lawyers should be leaders, setting an example in human rights protections and the rule of law. The SOP is an acknowledgement of obligations already imposed on lawyers by the Human Rights Code and the Rules of Professional Conduct. The fact that some are so vociferous in their dissent makes me think the SOP was very necessary to remind lawyers of their legal obligations.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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It worries me from a protection of the public point of view. There are many platforms being developed which attempt to provide people with legal services on-line. However, these are not regulated and there is no assurance that the service provided is good and then no avenue for the public to pursue if they are harmed.
Expand to read Gina's views
I am a Bencher with fiduciary duties and when this matter was last considered we voted to keep the current system with articling and an LPP. I do not think this issue will go away as there will continue to be fewer and fewer articling jobs. We should not have as a licensing criteria something that has the effect of discriminating against some groups, as we know some groups statistically have a more difficult time obtaining articles. I believe long run we should be talking to the law schools about them setting up programs like the LPP during the last term of law school. In this way, all students would receive a standardized training in practical skills. Thereafter, articling could be eliminated and students could write one licensing exam.
Expand to read Gina's views
This is important. As a Deputy Small Clams Court Judge, I see how beneficial this is. Many people go to a lawyer to help them draft their claim and once they are prepped, they are very competent to conduct their own trial. I saw that as well in the Human Rights Legal Support Centre which provides unbundled services. The fact is, apart from cost, many people prefer to represent themselves with a little help from a lawyer.
Expand to read Gina's views
I support it.
Expand to read Gina's views
The LSO should provide educational avenues for lawyers to increase their technological competence. However, I disagree with a duty. This would be unfair to older practicing lawyers. There are still libraries and those who are not technologically proficient can still keep up to date and serve their clients well. It could also impose unfair burdens on small firms and sole practitioners.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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This is critical. The Equity and Indigenous Advisory Committee (of which I am a member) will begin working on implementing recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report. We need to acknowledge the harms that were done through the use of the law and seek to understand and improve our laws and governance taking into account Indigenous traditions and laws. We need to ensure that there are no bars to Indigenous people entering the legal profession and ensure that there are enough to serve their communities.
Expand to read Gina's views
I support allowing not-for-profits who serve particular communities the ability to hire lawyers to serve their clients (which we have already passed). I also support allowing them to charge fees to their clients for the use of this lawyer. This would assist them in defraying the costs associated with hiring the lawyers.
Expand to read Gina's views
The LSO has reviewed this issue and is putting in place mandatory contingency fee agreements which all lawyers will have to use. I support this.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

Expand to read Gina's views
1. Licence lawyers to practice in particular areas. The law is no longer as narrow as it was 200 years ago. Like doctors, we would serve the public better if we obtained specific licences for specific areas.
2. Make the examination process more rigorous, but allow students three opportunities to write the exam. This would protect the public.
3. Work with law schools to offer training like the LPP in the last year of law schools and then eliminate articling. This would provide one pathway and level the playing field.
Expand to read Gina's views
Yes. The LSO, as regulator is an expert in many aspects of practice that lawyers need to know. It is aware of areas that can get lawyers into trouble and it only makes sense that it provides CPD. If people don’t want to use the LSO’s CPD, they don’t have to.
Expand to read Gina's views
1. Work with various associations, seeking out their recommendations on what would support licensees and then implementing those that are feasible and in the public interest.
2. Continue the mentorship program and the practice management help line with improvements where necessary.
3. Provide free CPD to those licensees who are not at large firms or other institutions where lawyers typically receive free CPD.
4. Provide free CPD to all lawyers on issues that the LSO finds are getting lawyers into trouble.
Expand to read Gina's views
Mental Health is the defining issue of our generation. Many people are suffering in silence. Many take their own lives and we saw this recently in Toronto with a prominent lawyer. We need to educate people about mental health to eliminate the shame people feel so that they seek help. Law is a very stressful business and we should be ensure that there are avenues that lawyers can take to seek help. This is also ultimately in the public interest.
Expand to read Gina's views
Access to justice
Equity
Improvements to the licensing exam

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

Expand to read Gina's views
1. Complete the implementation of the Challenges Report.
2. Apply the recommendations in the Challenges Report to other equity seeking groups.
3. Complete the review of the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel role and then improve it so that people are more aware of it and so that it is accessible.
4. Keep the lines of communication open with equity seeking groups, keep listening to them and where we are doing something that hasn’t worked, change it.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

Expand to read Gina's views
We approved in principle the establishment of a limited licence for paralegals and others in the area of family law, in particular with respect to the preparation of forms. This did not include court room attendances. I reserve my opinion on whether this will be in the public interest until I see the program which is developed.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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We should fund local law libraries. They are important in smaller communities, not only for lawyers, but they are also a hub where members of the public go to seek out legal information.

Other topics

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Endorsements of this candidate

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

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FACL
Fred Bickford, current Bencher
Avvy Go, former Bencher
Linda Rothstein, former Bencher, Partner, Paliare Roland
Paul Schabas, former Bencher, Partner, Blakes
Isfahan Merali, Bencher, Senior Counsel, Consent and Capacity Board
Raj Anand, former Bencher, Partner Weir & Foulds
Mark Sandler, former Bencher, Partner, Cooper, Sandler
Norie Campbell, TD Bank
Rasha El Sissi, TD Legal
Jane Langford, TD Legal
Carole Dagher, Vice President, Scotiabank
Julia Shin Doi, General Counsel and Secretary of Board of Governors, Ryerson University
Mary Lou Fassel, L.S.M., former Director Legal Services, Barbra Schlifer Clinic
Cara Clairman, President and General Counsel, Plug’n Drive
Paul Evraire, Chair, CLEO, former Special Counsel at Justice Canada
Elizabeth Goldberg, L.S.M., former CEO, The Law Foundation of Ontario
Tom Curry, Partner, Lenczner Slaaght
Rebecca Durcan, Partner, Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc
Valerie Edwards, Partner, Torkin Manes
Scott Hutchison, Partner, Henein Hutchison
Carolyn Zayid, Partner, McCarthy Tetrault
Kirk Baert, Partner, Koskie Minsky
Paul Morrison, Partner, Miller Thomson
Wendy Earle, Chair, Class Proceedings Committee
Renatta Austin, Lawyer and Notary Public
Nilufa Husein, Barrister & Solicitor
Margaret Waddell, Partner Waddell Phillips
Jasminka Kalajdzic, Associate Professor, University of Windsor Law