Sean Robichaud

Lawyer Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

My priority is to make the LSO leaner, louder, and younger.

The LSO has become too bloated in the way it governs and spends its members’ fees. This is exacerbated further for recent calls who have to not only struggle with ever-increasing fees, but also the crushing law school debt they face once called. While there are many important issues, my priority is ensuring recent calls are given a seat (literally) at convocation, and reducing the costs and unnecessary burdens of practice.

The Law Society must:

Reduce licensing fees with active measures towards auditing wasteful spending;
Educate the public on the importance of lawyers and the role we play in society;

Advance previous efforts towards a “Recent Call” sub-category of Bencher (under 5 years, two per region);

Advocate for the reduction of law school tuition by working with institutions, governments, and the private sector;

Reduce excessive regulatory and business practice intrusions of the Law Society into lawyers and firms;

Increase the prosecutions and sanctions for lawyers who undermine us as a group through dishonesty and who commit criminal acts;

Advance access to justice through governmental collaboration and advanced coordination with lawyers offering their services;

Advance all measures to modernize our courts and delivery of justice in the province;

Recognize the need for adaptation in business practice, marketing, and financial structuring of law firms;

Modernize and recalibrate the licensing and mentorship of lawyers in the province; and,

Increase measures to ensure lawyers meet minimum standards and competence in specialized areas of law.

Background

Primarily I am a criminal defence lawyer, but over the years, my practice has opened many other fortunate opportunities. My law firm, Robichaud’s, employs 5 remarkable and talented lawyers.

In addition to my law firm, I am the founder of King Law Chambers which provides complete office solutions to lawyers in the Greater Toronto Area. Our chambers is now home to over 70 lawyers practicing in a wide range of legal specialization.

Over the past year, I have started the popular legal podcast Of Counsel. This podcast features remarkable lawyers and judges who have made significant contributions and advancements within the profession. This ongoing discussion is now an invaluable tool for lawyers and law students in Canada.

My background is one of very limited means. I was the first to go to university in my extended family. In order to get through, I had to work throughout my schooling. Like many lawyers today, I graduated with significant debt load. I understand not only the immediate effects on the individual but on the broader effects it has on society to have an entire class of professional crippled by debt.

When I am not practicing law and running my businesses, I take considerable enjoyment in snowboarding, motorcycling, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities.

 

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

Candidates I support

There are far too many excellent candidates for me to choose 5-10. I think it best to let the voters decide who is best suited for their interests.

 

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Charging lawyers outrageous amounts of money for CPD. We live in a society where information is free. We can watch business geniuses speak for free on YouTube, great lawyers discuss their strategies on podcasts for no cost, and so on. Yet, when it comes to CPD, the LSO continues to profiteer off lawyers who are struggling. Legal education should not be a means of profit; it should be a means for making us better lawyers. CPD should be on a cost-recovery basis and most of it should be free. Considering the mandatory nature of CPD, this is highly exploitative of lawyers who cannot afford this excess.

 

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

Being fiscally responsible. The LSO seems to approach lawyers fees as an endless and unlimited stream of revenue. We simply cannot continue along this path. Some numbers: The LSO “Our Society is Your Society” is budgeted to cost $600,000 in 2019 and a total $1.2M (assuming there is not more). Bencher honorariums are set to increase by $370,000 to a total of $3.2M. The total budget is calling for $142.54M in expenditures. The deficit is is set to increase to $8.7M. This is wrong. It is wasteful. It is passing the problem on to future generations. The LSO needs to stop treating lawyers like wealthy streams of income and focus more on licensing and regulating competence.

 

website

https://robichaudlaw.ca/law-society-bencher-election-2019/

 

email

sean@robichaudlaw.ca

 

social media

Twitter: @seanrobichaud
Instagram: @robichaudlaw
LinkedIn: Sean Robichaud
iTunes, Spotify, etc.: Search “Of Counsel”

 

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

Expand to read Sean's views

I have written many articles on my website as to some of the major contributing causes to access to justice. Suffice to say it cannot be dealt with adequately in 200 words. However, I can say this: ATJ is not about lawyers. Lawyers are already generous with their time in ways most people are not. Every lawyer I know gives far more to their communities than what is expected of them. ATJ is a problem related to the Courts.

Simply put, the Courts have passed the buck to lawyers to try and solve and spend our way out of while at the same time ever-increasing the complexity of rules, procedures, case law, and expectations of us.

If we truly want ATJ, Courts need to look in the mirror and ask themselves “What would this look like if it were easy?”

Expand to read Sean's views
Yes, the LSO is too large but it also has a quality problem. It is entirely unacceptable that despite while nearly half of lawyers in Ontario have been practicing for less than 15 years, only TWO of the 40 benchers elected were in that category. The average bencher has been called for 27 years. Put another way, the people who are setting the direction of our future as lawyers are, on average, on the verge of retirement. It is no wonder we have the problems of waste, deferment of problems, and archaic manner of viewing the profession.

We need younger benchers and I would support and advance a special category (2 in each region as a minimum of calls 10 years or younger) if elected.

Expand to read Sean's views
It’s outrageously high and not sustainable. This is a pressing concern that the LSO and law schools must address. We cannot have a system of law where only the wealthiest can afford to become lawyers; or, those that graduate are concerned more with paying back crippling debt than they are seeking justice for this clients and larger societal good.
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This complex issue simply cannot be discussed in 200 words and therein lies the problem. As lawyers, (as perhaps compared to clergy) we understand that many issues require more than a “I believe” or “I don’t believe” answer. The interactions of humans, intersectionality of rights and interests, and the balancing of competing interests is rarely a “yes or no” answer. Sadly, it has been framed as that for this election.

I am saddened to see this excellent and long-overdue initiative for EDI in our profession to turn so divisive and incendiary.

It has left people name calling, suggesting undertones or explicit assertions of racism, and generally a very ugly look for the profession. I am deeply disappointed with the manner the LSO handled this sensitive issue and the harm it has caused.

As has been said many times over: everyone in the profession supports EDI. We all welcome it. However, the manner this is taught and implemented to the profession matters.

The implementation was a massive failure and the LSO ought to be ashamed in their lack of effort to try and reconcile what are good people trying to reach a consensus on how to reach a common goal: inclusion and fair opportunities for everyone in this profession.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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To me, this is more about catch phrases and legal conferences than anything else.

AI is not going to save us nor is it going to drastically change the way we do law. I say this coming from a very technologically advanced firm that uses systems that a nimble, cloud bases, and efficient. That said, all the technology in the worlds is not going to forgo the need for us as lawyers to think through problems and provide practical advice to clients who want to meet a person, not a robot. If we reach the point were AI can understand the complexity of what we do as lawyers, then the LSO won’t exist anyway. This is very far off in the future.

In the mean time, we should not be wasting our money on consultants, talks, and other empty discussions on “AI” when the vast majority of lawyers don’t even know who Alan Turing is, let alone how to code.

Yes it is critical to be technologically competent and the more we can embrace technology the better, but this is not the same as empty concepts like “AI legal delivery”

Expand to read Sean's views
I feel like the LSO is trying to ride every horse in the stable on this issue. Either we have pathways to licensing (LPP, et al.) or we don’t. The LSO needs to make a firm decision on what it means to be licensed in Ontario and stick with it. Instead, they have created far too many (costly) options for people to become a lawyers.

My view is that law schools need to adapt. Legal education must be very different than it was in 1979. Law schools must be active and the LSO should be requiring these schools to include one year of practical training as part of their legal education (akin to Bar Ads or the LPP program). As it stands now, the third year of law school is more about glad handing Bay St. and trying to seek employment than it is about learning how to practice law. We need a structural change and it starts with the LSO demanding more of our law schools to equip them to become lawyers as soon as they graduate.

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This is another example of empty concepts that have no practical value in the day to day. You simply can’t effectively “unbundle” a trial or complex family manner in a professionally responsible way. To the degree that one might be able to, lawyers are already doing it. “Unbundled legal services” is just a catch phrase used at conferences and CPDs and has little value in practice. Another example of wasteful and costly pursuits of non-issues. Further, it would do nothing to increase access to justice as it will merely equip unrepresented accused just enough to then totally ruin it when it matters without representation. Setting up unrepresented accused for failure should not be aspired towards. You either help clients, or you don’t. If you can do responsibly in discrete elements, then that’s fine but lawyers are already doing this. We don’t need a rule to say “it’s ok to help out people just a little bit and then leave them hanging”.

Expand to read Sean's views
I am not sure what this question refers to.
Expand to read Sean's views
I trust lawyers to learn technology to the degree they feel necessary for their own practice. This is yet another example of the LSO interfering with businesses and lawyers’ practices that is empty, overreaching, and ineffective. Lawyers who need tech will embrace it, lawyers who don’t won’t. Lawyers who are negligent will be held accountable as per the normal course. The last thing we need is more oversight on how to use email.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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I do not feel it appropriate for me to provide any insights on how to best address this issue. However, I do know that Indigenous communities and lawyers must be consulted and included in the advancement of the profession and our professional obligations within it. I look forward to being part of those discussions if elected.

Expand to read Sean's views
In the last election I ran, I was against this as a general rule. As it stands now, I still am. However, there is no doubt that this needs to be looked at again and reevaluated in certain areas of the law. If we are to do so, we must be highly cognizant and protective of ethical issues, particularly those relating to insurance companies funding firms and the effect it would have upon Ontarians. While I have not ruled out ABS, I would need to be convinced that it does not cause more harm than good. I believe that the issue of ABS would also have to be addressed by practice area and not as a general rule applying to all areas of law where the potential for conflict is high (i.e., insurance and personal injury).
Expand to read Sean's views
Similar to my answer on “Duty and Technology”, the LSO needs to stay in their lane. Advertising and business arrangements have little to nothing to do with proper regulation of lawyers. Market forces and the laws of our province do perfectly fine in dealing with these issues. Curtailing advertising though obsolete perspectives and overbearing regulation sets us back and our ability to help the public.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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I have long been a believer that there should be a graduated form of licensing for lawyers.

For example, everyone should be required to complete basic exams on ethics, and basic competence. From there, lawyers must choose what practice areas they wish to pursue. For example, a recent call who wishes to practice criminal law should write this basic exams and then their “Criminal C1” licensing exam which would permit them to take on certain criminal cases. Over the years, they could then fulfill C2, C3, etc. requirements and advance in their careers. For general practitioners, that itself could be a specialization (G1, G2…). This would increase not only the competence of lawyers, but reduce LawPro claims and increase the value of lawyers as they advance in their careers. This would also have effects on how the government could assign lawyers with minimum requirements, and tariff schedules in contexts of LAO.

This model could also be applied in areas of business whereby if a lawyer wished to open a practice, they must complete a course, exams, on basic business practices and so forth. Put simply, the LSO must play a greater role in ensuring that lawyers increase their specializations.

I would not advocate for any restriction on lawyers practicing now. This would have to be “grandparented” in over many years.

Expand to read Sean's views
Yes, but it should be free or cost-recovery.
Expand to read Sean's views
Reduce fees. Reduce overbearing regulation. Increase accessible and affordable CPD.
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This should not be the responsibility of the LSO. While the LSO has some part to play in ensuring that LSO members are properly accommodated when suffering these issues, we cannot afford costly programs that enhance the mental health services that the province or health care already provides.

Expand to read Sean's views
I want to see significant and drastic cuts to spending. As mentioned above, we cannot continue to treat lawyers (particularly recent calls) as endless means of revenue. Yes this may require some tough decisions but it does not mean that lawyers won’t fill in the gaps. We are charitable people and the LSO does not need to subsidize us to realize that. I would like to see fees cut in half by 2023.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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I see this as a priority, particularly as it relates to recent calls and their inclusion.

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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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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