Antoine L. Collins

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – East Region

Priorities

If elected as Bencher, I will strive to positively influence the Bar’s legacy and impact by ensuring that the Law Society stays relevant in an ever-changing legal and societal environment, adapting to new technology and infrastructure and promoting greater engagement by our members. I get excited when I think about the Ontario Bar’s future and the prospect of being the voice for so many of our colleagues, and to working hard to help govern it in the public interest. For example, when I look at the Ontario bar – from lawyers to judges, to members of our governing body – it seems clear to me that its current composition does not well-represent the changing demographics of either our profession or of Ontario.

I know the make-up of our current Convocation is more diverse then it’s ever been however, let me be clear, when I talk about diversity I am not only taking about within Convocation I am referring to our whole profession. Yes, I am talking about racialized lawyers, I’m also talking about solo/small firms, solicitors, LGBTQ, internationally trained lawyers, our new calls, lawyers under the age of fifty, indigenous lawyers……While I am proud to be part of a profession which attracts an amazing and diverse array of talent, we can do better, and I intend to be a strong voice and advocate for diversity and inclusiveness. At the end of the day, I hope to help our governing body move toward better reflecting the changing demographics of our profession and our province by infusing it with fresh ideas and new perspectives. I believe that we all benefit when our profession reflects the diversity of all its members, and it is our obligation to strive to increase its visibility, and I look forward to working toward these goals as a Bencher.

Background

I’ve practiced law in the United States and Canada over the past 16 years. After graduating in 2002 from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, my career began as an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Baltimore City’s States Attorney’s Office. There, I prosecuted cases ranging from minor theft to felony child abuse and domestic violence. Subsequently, I took a position with one of Baltimore’s top law firms, defending Workers’ Compensation cases. I was called to the Ontario Bar in 2011. Now based in Ottawa, I am the Principal Lawyer of The Law Firm of Antoine L Collins –a progressive and dynamic firm offering personalized service in a variety of legal disciplines, with a primary focus on Real Estate Law.

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

Candidates I support

Sylvie Patenaude
Ian Speers
More to come………..

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

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

The LSO needs to make every effort to encourage and support everyone in Ontario’s legal community. This support needs to be provided to every segment of the profession, whether a member is practicing at a large firm or solo, at the beginning of a career or has decades of experience. Furthermore, the LSO should develop education initiatives that can raise awareness and increase understanding of the causes and impacts of anti-black racism, and encourage new approaches to address the issue.

website

http://alclawyers.ca/bencher/

email

antoine.collins@alclawyers.ca

social media

https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoine-l-collins-9637094/
https://www.facebook.com/ALCLawyers.ca/

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

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This critical issue has many components, and includes a number of challenges that won’t be easy to fix. Indeed, in order to begin to address the issue, we must first understand some of the key underlying challenges, including: diversity and inclusion, the pathway to becoming a lawyer, issues facing solo and small firms, issues facing solicitors, licensing fees, CPD fees, the parental leave program, the future of legal aid, the future of pro bono services, and the economic stability of the law society. I believe that to move forward, collectively, we as a profession will have to sit down and have the hard conversations needed to set the right priorities and take the well-founded decisions which need to be made in the fast-changing landscape of our legal profession.
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Indeed, we need to take a look at Governance, but reducing the size of Convocation is not the answer, this will clearly have a negative impact on diversity. The LSO exists to effectively govern in the public interest, represent Ontario’s lawyers, ensure access to justice, promote professionalism, diversity in the legal profession, all while respecting the rule of law. I understand that every member of the Ontario Bar contributes a unique voice, and if elected Bencher I will keep an open mind on what path to reform we should take to ensure the LSO hears each of these voices and acts for the benefit of us all.
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Some aspiring lawyers go to law school and pay high tuition in the expectation of earning six-figure salaries in their first legal job. Unfortunately, as we all know, this dream does not reflect the reality. While the LSO has no authority to regulate the tuition of law schools nor should it, I would be open to discussing ways the LSO could partner with stakeholders on educational initiatives that could help prospective students weigh law school costs against more realistic expectations.
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As a lawyer, who is also a visible minority and a member of the LGBQT community, I stand whole-heartily behind fostering equality and welcoming diversity in Canada and in the law society. For me, the SOP reflect the principles that we as lawyers/human beings should be upholding anyways. They are principally about conducting ourselves in a manner that recognizes the centrality of the human right to equality which is engendered through a respect for diversity, and inclusion.

I don’t see the SOP as a means for the law society to regulate our thought or speech. As a matter of fact, I think that who you are, what you like, what values you hold in your personal life is your own business. However, when it comes to your conduct as a member of the law society, that is a different story. I will always be a strong voice and advocate for diversity and inclusiveness. To be frank, cannot ignore the very real barriers of race, religion and gender which, historically, faced minorities seeking to practice in our profession. In my view, the SOP takes a step in the right direction to help eliminate these barriers, by bringing greater focus to this issue and establishing a stronger foundation for the future of the law society.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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I have heard the argument that A.I. in the legal sector will promote increased efficiency, lower cost and higher accuracy, but my question is: to what extent? Currently, I have doubts that A.I. will only be good news for clients, but I am approaching this issue with an open mind, and I am keen on hearing both sides of the debate.
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Despite the long history of the current model, I believe improvements can and must be made. My starting position is that, after three years of law school and passing the bar exam, candidates should be as fully prepared as possible to practice law. This means that, within the educational and articling period, students should be provided with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to start practicing as a novice lawyer. Some rudimentary business skills are required in addition to communication and writing skills, verbal reasoning, intellectual and analytical competencies, and understanding of professional responsibility. The substantial time and money spent in law school, preparing for the bar exam and articling should produce lawyers who are ready to practice.
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Whatever the reason, there has been a growing focus on making the legal system more accessible to self-represented litigants—whether they can’t afford an attorney or prefer not to have one. As it relates to access to justice, I see ULS as a forward thinking approach. It can, and should be about helping litigants to help themselves.
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As with all matters, I approach issue this with an open mind and a willingness to hear arguments on both sides. My initial thought is pro-entity-based regulation, this approach would move the focus from the individual lawyer to a group of lawyers in the collective in which they work. As a result, I would hope to see better client protection and better legal practice.
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The way we practice law is changing rapidly. To continue to provide competent representation to our clients, with the necessary legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation that meet the standards of competent practitioners, we must all take reasonable steps to understand the effect of technology on legal representation. As technology has evolves, so too does the concept of competence, therefore, as a profession, we have a duty to keep up-to-date.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a growing priority for the country and should be a priority for our profession. I believe we must all work together on this issue, including through: ongoing outreach to indigenous communities, ensuring access to justice and encouraging indigenous enrollment in our law school initiatives.
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ABS is one of the new realities of practising law. I expect a lot of new firms will look at setting up such structures, but what I don’t want to see is practitioners becoming business people first, and lawyers second. More discussions will have to take place on this issue, particularly regarding regulation.
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Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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I believe that continuing legal education is vitally important to our profession especially among new calls and young lawyers. I am open to examining more effective and less expensive ways to meet CPD requirements. I would even be open to a continuing competence model for lawyer who have been in practice over five years, in which there is no set requirement to attend courses, no approved providers of CPD courses, and no requirement to complete a certain number of hours of training or of specific allowed activities. Instead, lawyers would address their learning needs through continuing competence activities. They would be asked to reflect on/define their learning needs and look at how they could incorporate these needs into their practice. Any activity undertaken to address the learning requirement would then count towards their continuing competence.
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Law Society fees, first any discussion of Law Society fees should start with a detailed review of the LSO’s current budget and its priorities. As a practitioner who has worked as a lawyer for the government, for a large firm and am now a sole practitioner, I understand the importance of this issue specifically when it come to small firms and sole practitioners. For example, I am myself currently licensed and paying dues in three separate jurisdictions: Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Ontario. The fees for both Maryland and Washington D.C. pale in comparison to the fee that licensees are paying in Ontario. As well, as a sole practitioner, faced with rising rents and overhead, I am especially aware of the impact of lawpro and licensing fees on the bottom-line of my business. I would therefore be open to further discussion of the possibility of mitigating the impact of any rising fees on new calls, small firms and solo practitioners.
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Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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I will always be a strong voice and advocate for diversity and inclusiveness. To be frank, let us not forget the very real barriers of race, religion and gender which, historically, faced minorities seeking to practice in our profession. I feel strongly that considerable work remains to be done by all of us, however, the LSO has taken a step in the right direction to help eliminate these barriers by bringing greater focus to this issue and establishing a stronger foundation for the future of the law society.

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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SYSTEMIC RACISM

Sadly, there is no simple answer or magic solution to address systemic racism in our profession. However, I feel that together we can strengthen the LSO to better support the existing pool of talented minority members, improve the diversity of our profession, and better match it to the changing demographics of Ontario. My goal is to lobby for policy that will create lasting change, that will involve the profession as a whole, not just the 40 lawyers who sit as Benchers. I will push for the adoption of policy that promotes recognition, action and accountability. We should start from the bottom up, involving law schools, the licensing process, continued professional development, and growing strong communities of support and leadership.

Other topics

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Endorsements of this candidate

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Joanne St. Lewis
Mitchell K. Kitagawa