Nathan Baker

Lawyer Candidate – Central East Region

Priorities

Providing service to lawyers. Making the LSO more relevant by championing lawyers and the important work we do, serving the public by enhancing competence, leveraging local ideas, working with partners such as local law associations, CLA, OBA, OTLA and others to enhance the services we provide. Limiting new initiatives to those that can actually make a difference rather than adding layers of bureaucracy. Streamlining regulation to let lawyers practice law more efficiently and effectively thus providing the public with the best service.

Background

I am a sole practitioner in Peterborough, Ontario. My practice is primarily criminal law, both in defence and as federal crown. For the last number of years I have worked on the board of the Federation of Ontario Law Associations (formerly CDLPA) to bring the voice of the practicing bar to the forefront. As chair of the library committee, and heavily involved in paralegal licensing issues, I have always looked for opportunities to help lawyers access competent help available in their local communities.

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

Being so adversarial. Lawyers should be able to look to the LSO as a resource. No lawyer should be worried about reaching out to better their practice or ask a question regarding their mental health while worrying that their license and livliehood could be at stake.

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

Promoting lawyers. Other professions trump the good work they do. The LSO has a duty to the bar and the public to explain why lawyers are so important, useful and how we provide real benefit to society,

website

www.nathanbakerlaw.com/bencher-election

email

nathanbakerlaw@gmail.com

social media

Twitter: @nathanbakerlaw

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

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Access to Justice requires competent professionals providing service. More is not better. Lawyers need to be provided with the opportunity to practice well and the LSO has a duty to ensure that the justice accessed is useful and competently provided. A “race to the bottom” as is sometimes seen in the USA to flood the field with lawyers, or even paralegals, does not provide access to real justice. The duty of the LSO is to help lawyers to make their services more affordable through initiatives like better allowing unbundled services, being a loud voice in ensuring a well funded legal aid system and leveraging our County and District Law Libraries to help lawyers provide well researched opinions at a better cost.

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Convocation is not merely a board of directors managing a corporation. It is more akin to a parliament, taking the ideas of those in the best place to regulate the profession, lawyers, and representing them while still serving the public. Change is needed to improve process. Anyone who has watched or attended a meeting of Convocation will see that. This can be done without losing the many benefits of our current system.
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The profession of law needs to be open to the best and brightest, not merely those who can afford high tuition. The LSO should be better involved in this issue. Students are being driven away from Canadian universities. Concurrently, the current review of the NCA process becomes more important given the rise of foreign-trained students.
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This merely pays lip service to the issue without working toward real change. I would rather see better encouragement of diversity than waste time arguing over how or why lawyers should have a statement of principles. Let’s stop talking and start working on solutions.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Technology will always be useful in helping lawyers to provide better service. The regulation of such technology to make sure that legal advice comes from competent lawyers will be needed. Given the nature of law practice and limitations in our Court system adapting much simpler technology, this issue is not as pressing or scary as it is sometimes presented.
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Linking the process to actual competence is key. Articling, in some form, is still needed. A mentorship helps to develop competencies. Helping to open more positions through targeted funding is an example of real change the LSO could be involved in. Mere test taking ability cannot adequately ensure competency. Making sure articles are meaningful is key.
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Clients expect a choice in how much of their case they use a lawyer for. It is up to us to work with our clients to explain why we are of value. The LSO, as regulator, needs to better support the bar in the way we provide unbundled services. The current regulations create significant liability in limited scope retainers and discourage them. Changes to allow lawyers to safely provide such services are needed to make them sustainable in a manner that protects the client and the lawyer in a way that is both useful to the client and profitable to the lawyer.

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As with ABS, they tend to benefit people other than lawyers or clients. LSO should focus on things that do.
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LSO needs to work with lawyers to adapt technology for the practice of law. Change is happening and those who adapt to the changing expectations of clients do better. LSO can provide opportunities to lawyers to make sure the practicing bar is ready for change.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Engaging and working with Indigenous communities is important to me. Recognizing that there are better ways forward and approaches to justice that we have not always recognized is the starting point for a better conversation.

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They tend to not serve clients or lawyers well and should be limited.
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Simply making more rules is not the answer. Enforcement is often problematic. Individuals who advertise outside their scope, including unlicensed or paralegal licensees, need to be dealt with more efficiently. Ensuring that all licensees are providing fair and accurate information in their advertising is essential. We should remember that advertising was originally allowed to better inform the public of the services lawyers provide and use that as a starting point.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Yes, but they should be leveraging the County and District Law Libraries to make it more accessible and affordable to lawyers.
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Expand to read Nathan's views

Too often, the relationship between lawyers and the LSO is adversarial. Lawyers need to be better supported when facing their own issues and not punished for having them.

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Supporting lawyers in their practice in meaningful ways. LSO too often seems like an enemy rather than a resource for lawyers. This can and should change. LSO should be championing lawyers to the public in the way other regulators do for their professionals.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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Each year the bar better represents the public. However, we do lag behind where we should be. Reminding lawyers of the benefits of a diverse bar and providing actual opportunities rather than paying lip service to the issue is the way forward.

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 law libraries are often under-appreciated by lawyers in practice. They provide much needed help to the practicing bar. Funding for staffed libraries is a must to ensure competence and to aid access to justice. Many lawyers do not know they exist and the wide variety of opportunities they present. Many of the LSO initiatives could have been improved over the last number of years by utilizing the local associations and their libraries. Mentorship, CPD, research and networking are all accomplished every day in local law libraries. The staff are essential for this and need to be properly funded. As well, using the resources staff already present will allow the LSO to more nimbly deal with issues, provide support in smaller jurisdictions and increase access to justice by providing research and access to resources for a fraction of the cost to each lawyer.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Communication and Engagement – lawyers are often too busy to be truly engaged in the issues affecting our profession. I am committed to making it easier for lawyers to be engaged and active in the issues that matter to them. 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.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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