Lee Akazaki

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

My priority is and has been to modernize the profession by standing for professionalism in the face of pressure to water it down. In Ontario, we lawyers have a “love-hate” relationship with the Law Society. We love the tradition and the trappings. Yet the tradition and trappings have made it exclusive and formidable. Because of its institutional size, the LSO can appear distant and monolithic. Quite understandably, our thoughts about the Law Society tend to react to the quality of our last interaction.

For many of us, especially in small and solo practice, our one point of contact occurs annually when we pay our Law Society dues. This potential for estrangement tells me the Law Society must work hard to ensure members are treated with respect and the highest standards of public service. Let the last interaction with the LSO inspire pride and confidence in our calling.

My election to the OBA presidency in 2010 channeled a widely-felt urgency for professional renewal of purpose. The legal profession, including many in leadership of the OBA, thought the Bar’s role was to protect members from what was going on in the rest of society. The profession’s inability to adapt to the diversity and creativity of Canadian society did very much risk our being left behind. My platform was to prepare us for a host of oncoming occupational challenges. I campaigned for mandatory CPD … I pushed for greater services to regions outside of Toronto … I reached out to the law schools to re-engage. Most importantly, I put women and minorities in leadership positions and watched them inspire others to follow suit.

In 2019, I do believe the Law Society wants to do better to be more relevant, even as some of our members would like us to slide backward. This election is important because we need show the public that we are able to meet and thrive from oncoming change and uphold professionalism as our guiding standard.

Background

Partner, Gilbertson Davis LLP
Called: 1990
Certified Specialist (Civil Lit): 2000

Awards:
OBA Joel Kuchar Award for Professionalism and Civillity
JusticeNet Patron Council Award
OBA Linda Adlam Manning Award for Volunteerism

Current Professional Duties:
Council, OBA
Trustee, OBA Foundation
Director, Canadian Defence Lawyers

Past Professional Duties:
President, OBA 2010-11
Director, CBA 2010-11
Chair of CLE, OBA 2008-09
Chair of Civil Litigation, OBA 2008-09
LSUC Barrister Advisory Grp 2005-09
Volunteer: UofT Law, OJEN/ROEJ, Advocates Society Pro Bono Duty Counsel, OBA Racialized Lawyer Working Grp
Elected Bencher March, 2019 (due to opening from member appt to bench)

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Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

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website

LeeAkazaki.com

email

lakazaki@gilbertsondavis.com

social media

@LeeAkazaki

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Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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We need to build on the current LSO initiatives and to start recruiting diverse candidates within the community. Every high school student should be encouraged to follow a career in the law and contribute to the Ontario legal system.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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Local libraries should be funded and staffed in order to assist an older generation of lawyers to update their technological skills. Assisting lawyers from every generation to participate in the information age must be a priority for the Bar.

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