Douglas W. Judson

Lawyer Candidate – Northwest Region

Priorities

Younger lawyers need to lead the modernization of legal service delivery and drive improvements in access to justice. The challenges facing newer calls are unique from previous generations and can only be addressed through their participation in the leadership of our profession.

I am running for bencher to give voice to the future of law and to ensure the public we serve is heard at Convocation. The LSO must uphold its statutory commitment to access to justice, and adapt that commitment to respond to contemporary challenges and public expectations. I want to help break down silos across the justice sector to address these issues and ensure our profession leads this work.

I have collaborated on a number of significant policy initiatives in the profession through my term on the LSO’s Equity Advisory Group, as the first President of the Law Students’ Society of Ontario (LSSO), on the board of Start Proud (formerly Out On Bay Street), as the current President of the Rainy River District Law Association, and in my involvement with the CBA and OBA (with their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community (SOGIC), in particular).

I am a passionate advocate for improving the diversity and financial accessibility of the bar, and have written extensively and contributed to submissions on matters such as the Pathways to the Profession review of licensing and the Challenges Facing by Racialized Licensees.

I supported the LSO in its legal challenge surrounding Trinity Western University by coordinating the intervention of LGBTQ2 groups, and I was the primary author of the LSSO’s 2015 Just or Bust report on the impacts of skyrocketing legal education costs. In my current work, I advocate for the justice and health needs of First Nations in Treaties 3 and 5.

The LSO’s public-facing mandates must remain central to its work. In my practice, through my work with Indigenous communities, as a director of a community legal clinic, and through my time volunteering with Law Help Ontario, I have seen firsthand some of the challenges facing Ontarians navigating everyday legal problems unserved by lawyers. I see a role for the LSO in enhancing public education, outreach, and legal resources, and doing more to integrate technology and pilot innovative practice models to address these unmet and underserved needs.

Background

I maintain a small practice in Northwestern Ontario, while serving as an economic advisor with Grand Council Treaty 3 and on the municipal council of the Town of Fort Frances.

My legal career started with McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto, and since then, I have worked as a contract Crown Attorney and in Indigenous restorative justice. I began my professional career on Parliament Hill, as an aide to two MPs, and have also served in the federal public service.

I maintain a busy volunteer presence in the profession and in my community. I serve on the board of the Northwest Community Legal Clinic, as President of the Rainy River District Law Association, and as Co-Chair of a Pride festival. I am on the executive of the CBA’s SOGI Community, and recently concluded a term on the LSO’s Equity Advisory Group. I am a Past President of the Law Students’ Society of Ontario and a former Start Proud board member.

I hold a JD/MBA from Osgoode and Schulich, and degrees in political science and commerce from the University of Ottawa.

I live in Fort Frances with my partner, Peter Howie, who practices criminal and family law and serves on the local hospital board.

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

Candidates I support

Sean Robichaud (Toronto)
Quinn Ross (Southwest)
Atrisha Lewis (Toronto)
Cheryl Siran (Northwest)
… and others (ask me: info@douglasjudson.ca / @dwjudson)

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

The current “Our Society is Your Society” public awareness campaign could use a re-think.

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

After committing considerable resources and effort to stand up for merit-based pathways to the profession in the Trinity Western University litigation, the LSO should be taking steps to use its accreditation authority over law programs to ensure that all of the existing programs remain reasonably accessible to Ontarians of all financial means. They are far from it, and it’s a crisis that LSO can no longer ignore if it wants to maintain the confidence of Ontarians.

website

www.douglasjudson.ca/2019

email

info@douglasjudson.ca/p>

social media

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dwjudson or @dwjudson
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JudsonDW

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

Expand to read Douglas' views

We need to stop toying with simplistic notions like mandating pro bono service as a panacea for access to justice. Our challenges in this area are systemic ones linked with opaque court processes and antiquated models for service delivery. In order to improve access to justice, we need to explore ideas that will make unserved legal needs more economically viable for licensees and legal innovators to address.

Expand to read Douglas' views
Two observations:

First, as a practitioner in the Northwest, I believe it is crucial that the unique issues facing justice sector participants in my region be voiced by someone with first-hand experience. Regional representation matters at Convocation.

Second, I am disappointed that the governance review found no need to revisit the rules for bencher elections to impose spending limits, or to require reporting of in-kind campaign contributions. Even university student councils have more democratic accountability built in to their electoral systems. If we want representation from smaller firms and a more diverse range of benchers at Convocation, we need to equalize the campaign rules.

Expand to read Douglas' views
Imagine: it’s the year 2045 and not a single judge in Ontario comes from a low- to middle-income family. The costs of legal education are one of the greatest threats to the long-term viability of this profession and its ability to serve the public. The fact is that an accessible and representative bar helps the profession do its job for Ontarians. A profession that does not look like the public and cannot relate to the full range of its lived experiences is a poor instrument for supporting access to justice. As I have argued elsewhere (https://bit.ly/2EhbnPv), the LSO needs to assert its accreditation power over ALL law programs to require financially accessible pathways to the profession.

Expand to read Douglas' views

I have been critical of some of the means by which the statement of principles policy was initially implemented. However, I believe that requiring licensees to affirm their respect of difference, to welcome diversity, and to foster equity in their practices is entirely consistent – if not central – to our commitment to the cause of justice itself. This is particularly so in light of the legal profession’s history of excluding some groups in our society and the continuing challenges our justice institutions face as they strive to account for historic wrongs. I am proud to have friends across the bar who have championed this policy.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

Expand to read Douglas' views
Tech-driven innovation in law is unavoidable. The LSO needs to get out in front of this changing landscape and ensure that the basic safeguards and hallmarks of our profession are respected – competency, confidentiality, etc. AI models can perpetuate systemic biases and the regulator needs to be alive to those risks once AI gains a foothold in legal service delivery and other areas of the justice sector.

Expand to read Douglas' views
Experiential learning must be core to the training required to become a lawyer. The stage at which we require this requirement to be satisfied in the legal education and licensing process should be open to more robust debate. For example, the integrated curriculum model in place at Lakehead University is demonstrating that there needn’t be a single pathway to the bar or that experiential training needs to happen after law school. As part of our commitment to nurturing a diverse bar and lowering barriers facing some groups, I believe that the LSO should facilitate multiple paths to licensing that respond to the needs and circumstances of all Ontarians. Our licensing pathways must be cost-effective for candidates and responsive to the crisis in law school tuition.

Expand to read Douglas' views

There is a growing sea of unmet legal needs that could be partly served by new legal “products”. The LSO has a role to play to support licensees’ delivery of unbundled services and limited-scope retainers. Practitioners need more guidance and assurance of professional flexibility in order to offer more creative and economical service offerings. The regulatory silence on this point hampers our service to the public.

Expand to read Douglas' views
I have no fixed view on this topic and am open to input from stakeholders across the bar.

Expand to read Douglas' views
The LSO was founded in 1797. Its licensees shouldn’t be allowed to practice like they are stuck there. The LSO needs to impose professional standards that make service to clients more efficient and less costly as part of our commitment to facilitating access to legal services.

(TL;DR? I want to see the word “fax” excised from our professional lexicon.)

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

Expand to read Douglas' views

I work extensively with First Nation communities. As our profession comes to terms with its own history of colonialism and exclusion and responds to the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, I would like to see the LSO take a leadership role in recognizing and integrating Indigenous legal perspectives, traditions, and languages into our systems of law and legal institutions.

Expand to read Douglas' views
The LSO should be continuously monitoring developments in other jurisdictions in respect of whether alternative business structures can facilitate improvements in the delivery of legal services, access to justice, or drive investment and process improvements in the justice sector – particularly where those structures help non-licensees to add value. That said, I do not think the fact that an alternative structure does not readily present evidence of improvements in those areas is a reason to outlaw it outright. The LSO’s approach to this topic should not be one guided by protectionism, but one informed by its statutory duties to the people of Ontario.

Expand to read Douglas' views
My understanding is that this issue has been extensively canvassed. The recommendations put forward should be implemented and monitored, with new direction taken where other developments in the licensing and service delivery landscape warrant fresh consideration.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

Expand to read Douglas' views

As northern and rural communities struggle to attract new practitioners, we should look to provide incentives through the licensing fee structure to encourage new calls to practice in under-served markets, regions with an aging local bar, or in under-served areas of law.

Some further comments on licensing are contained in my responses about licensing pathways. My 2016 response to the Pathways to the Profession consultation is available here (https://bit.ly/2TWH5XA) and contains additional reflections.

Expand to read Douglas' views
In rural and northern communities like mine, without the LSO’s online offerings there are few options for professional development available. That said, I would like to see enhancements to this service – for example, an opportunity for participants to rate sessions so that users have some assessment of quality of presentations and materials. They aren’t cheap – we should be able to assess value up front.

Expand to read Douglas' views
Practically, the LSO needs to provide a prescriptive and clear regulatory framework that removes the uncertainty and risk of “guess-work” for licensees and provides transparency and clarity to the public we serve.

Culturally, the LSO needs to do more to snuff out toxic behaviour and norms within the profession’s workplaces – behaviour that disproportionately targets women and licensees from equity-seeking groups.

Expand to read Douglas' views

The wellbeing of licensees has been an often-overlooked element of legal service delivery and substantive preparation for work as a lawyer. Those whose clients number among the suffering and vulnerable are regularly exposed to trauma, but given no training or resources on self-care. This compounds the lamentable mental health and substance abuse statistics of our profession.

Expand to read Douglas' views
The LSO’s budget and funding should prioritize the mandates set out in its statute: facilitating access to justice and legal services for the people of Ontario.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

Expand to read Douglas' views
I have been actively involved in a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives in the profession, including the LSO’s Equity Advisory Group, which was a key contributor to the report on challenges facing racialized licensees. This document is an important starting point for our work to ensure the profession reflects the people of Ontario, and allows opportunities for all Ontarians to join our ranks and achieve upward mobility within the bar. The corollary of a representative bar is one which provides better service that is more responsive to the circumstances of the public. The barriers to the bar take shape well before writing the bar exam, and the LSO needs to direct efforts towards addressing those factors – not just our internal challenges.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

Expand to read Douglas' views

It is incumbent upon our regulator to continue to engage in dialogue and reflection on what degree of competency and training is required to provide various types of legal services – and how that should be reflected in our license and credentialing structure. As a regulator tasked with brokering access to justice in Ontario, we must be mindful of the need to provide cost-effective alternatives to some of the most basic legal needs and problems, without compromising public confidence or jeopardizing the interests of the (often) marginalized individuals in need of more economical services.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

Expand to read Douglas' views
Outside of major centres, the staff and supports of law libraries are an invaluable resource for practitioners and support the functioning of our courts, and our profession’s service to the public. Their loss would compound some of the existing challenges in court process and introduce further hardship to practitioners who serve clientele in these regions. They are a critical tool to small firms and sole practitioners on the front lines of client service.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

Expand to read Douglas' views