I am open minded on entity regulation. The fact that the “firms” themselves do not fall within direct LSO oversight is a definite gap in the current regulatory regime that ought to be addressed.
Yes please. The bylaw was passed in convocation and yet it sits in legislative committee. We do not want to create an undue regulatory burden on firms, but to the extent systems affecting ethical practice are firm wide, the organization as well as the licensee needs to be accountable.
I do not support and as a bencher would not support entity based regulation. The legal profession is already overly regulated. Adding another layer of regulation would add yet another barrier to entry to lawyers who intend on and want to practice either in a sole or small firm.
Given actions by certain firms, this is clearly necessary.
I have no fixed view on this topic and am open to input from stakeholders across the bar.
It is difficult to imagine how this could apply to law firms with less than 20 members, but it does appear to be more efficient for both the firms and the LSO for firms of more than 20 lawyers.
Long overdue and in the public interest.
I am a strong proponent of entity based regulation. The current structure allows for improper action by a small minority because LSO is unable to ascertain which individual lawyers, as opposed to law firms, are involved.
Entity regulation is necessary in this marketplace. It allows clients recourse against the firms they hired, allows the firm to assume certain reporting obligations directly and allows the firm to be charged with discipline offences that are more appropriately firm responsibility.
This is a critical issue that will be one of the most complex issues ahead. I believe it is also necessary for the LSO to review this, in an informed manner, in light of the need to address broad issues such as equity and diversity as well as emerging and current legal technologies and AI.
With the recommendations of the racialized working group, entity regulation would hold firms accountable for EDI
I generally agree with the report of the task force to Convocation in May 2016.
Entity-based regulation, using advanced and sound risk assessment principles should be encouraged as a means of ultimately reducing incompetency complaints and unprofessional conduct, implementing EDI initiatives, and reducing the resulting cost of regulation. Special consideration and care must be given to how this will affect sole practitioners and small firms, to ensure there is no additional regulatory burden imposed.
Entity based regulation is entirely different than compliance based regulation. It appears that these two entirely different issues have been co-mingled. I fully support entity based regulation. As the 2016 task force reported, “it is not realistic to treat law or paralegal firms as mere collections of autonomous individual practitioners who happen to share a firm name.” Regulation of firms or associations is necessary. I am far from sold on compliance based regulation and putting further regulatory requirements and filings on licensees
Entity-based regulation done properly is a way to increase compliance and proper accountability to the public.
La réglementation des organisations, si entrepris de la bonne façon, est un moyen d`accroître la conformité avec les normes et notre responsabilité au public.
I support the current task force efforts. Many decisions which were once made by an individual licensee are now being made by a firm yet the LSO has limited ability to regulate firms. Entity Regulation looks to better protect the public and to enhance regulatory efficiency.
When LSO comes up with a title for a topic that is complicated and vague it usually means ‘Watch out’! Compliance Based Entity Regulation (CBER) is the steel inside the velvet glove of the Statement of Principles. See item #6 on the on the LSO CBER summary. #6 is equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) LSO is going to control your human resources activities according to its rigid and unreasonable view of EDI. I will vote against item #6.
Experience in other jurisdictions, most significantly in New South Wales, demonstrates that entity regulation coupled with alternative business structures dramatically reduces complaints against lawyers for incompetence and misconduct. I think there is room in Ontario to explore, with proper controls, entity regulation, on an opt-in basis, and as a pilot project, where select entities would voluntarily agree to LSO regulation, in exchange for the LSO allowing the entity to regulate its own members using the same scheme and rules the LSO would, otherwise, use to regulate its individual members. In other words, the LSO would, on a pilot and volunteer basis, delegate its regulatory authority to the entity in order to determine whether the public would be better protected through entity regulation, than by simply regulating the members of the entity, as appears to be the case in New South Wales.
We should be cautious but we should embrace change.
I am interested to hear what focus groups have to say about this initiative and how it could be developed and implemented. I have no hard view at this stage.
As with ABS, they tend to benefit people other than lawyers or clients. LSO should focus on things that do.
Individual lawyers are accountable to the Law Society for their actions, but the Law Society does not provide direct oversight to firms. The regulation of firms as entities is a positive development to help ensure better legal practice and the protection of the public.
Regulation of firms as entities unto themselves is a step forward. So too would be the implementation of a stronger risk-management approach to regulation which would enable lawyers to practice better.
I do not know yet whether I support this or not, as I am unsure how it really works. I recognize that the LSO needs to innovate and modernize how it regulates in the public interest, but I need to know quite a bit more about how the LSO plans to implement this item before I can say whether or not I believe it to be a good idea.
The “Practice Management Principles” adopted by the LSO are a good guideline. However, these guidelines do not answer a fundamental issue of entity regulation: how are rules that apply to larger firms going to apply to sole practitioners and small firms? Entity regulation is a good start toward ensuring that the regulatory playing field is even, but it is important that it does not slowly result in an undue burden for smaller firms.
As an aspiring sole practitioner, I believe my interaction with this would be limited, I can see for a larger practice, the need to have accountability for the clients beyond that actions of the licensee that you retained (actions of the firm in how your case was handled) would be important.
The LSO should stick to regulating Licensees. Attempting to regulate entities is simply an effort to expand the reach of an already overgrown LSO and an example of the type of mission creep at the LSO that has lead to $8M annual deficits. If Licensees are in regulatory compliance, then the public interest is met.
Entity based regulation is critical. Currently firms themselves don’t fall under direct oversight by LSO, which is a gap in our current regulatory regime that should be rectified. Having said that, the Law Society needs to be mindful of how regulatory changes will impact small firms, especially those rendering services in rural communities. While there is a need for oversight of law firms, onerous regulatory requirements and more audits are not the answer.
As Co-Chair of the Task Force on Compliance Based Entity Regulation I seek to continue to move forward in this area – many decisions which were once made by an individual licensee are now being made by a firm yet the LSO has limited ability to regulate firms. Entity Regulation looks to better protect the public and to enhance regulatory efficiency
I am in favour of entity-based regulation. There is a general need to regulate the entity, but we must determine whether this should be applicable to all firms, or only firms of a certain size. We must be cautious not to burden small-firm practitioners unnecessarily.
Activity/function based regulation should be considered.
I support it, as we need regulatory authority over firms, as well as individual lawyers.
I am open-minded and would consult with stakeholders and others prior to making any decision on the issue.
Entity-based regulation has the potential to be a regulatory nightmare for small-firm practioners. The possibillty of massive duplication of onerous record-keeping obligations and the spectre of needless audits loom large over the proposals. The failure to consider how this would affect those who are already over-burdened might have catastrophic effects on the viability of legal practice in certain areas and in particular communities.
I was a member of the Compliance Based Entity Regulation Task Force. I support the need to regulate the entity, not just the individual, although I recognize that the scope of entity regulation might be limited to firms of a particular size. Entity regulation also brings with it enhanced education on professional responsibilities, which can only benefit the public interest.
The focus on regulating the “entity” that is providing legal services, whether a large firm/corporation or a small ground of individuals, as opposed to the individual lawyer is important and matches with the reality of modern practice. Ultimately, however, responsibility for the provision of legal services by an entity must rest with lawyers.
Regulating at the entity level makes sense.
For generations, regulating individual lawyers worked. But in 2019, many lawyers work together in firms such that professional conduct is often governed by firm practices, procedures and cultures rather than merely by individual choices. It is time to recognize that proper professional conduct is best ensured by focusing both on individual lawyers and on the firms in which they practice. Clients have long been entitled to hold both individual lawyers and their firms accountable. This should also be the way that we govern ourselves.
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.
I support it.
I am in support of proceeding with a pilot project. Entity-based regulation could be helpful in some contexts, but it could backfire if implemented poorly. I think it would be more efficient for the LSO to regulate firms rather than individual members, but the prospect of saving costs cannot outweigh our duty to protect the public interest.
Entity based regulation is the logical response to a legal landscape featuring large law practices and in-house legal departments. Proactive management-based regulation of large legal entities will help facilitate an infrastructure that will prevent and mitigate misconduct, negligence, sub-par service and misleading advertising. In addition, entity-based regulation is an effective mechanism (largely unexplored to date) to encourage equity and diversity initiatives across organizations and a culture shift towards greater inclusion.
We must however be mindful about the potential impact of entity-based regulation on small/sole practices and smaller in-house departments, particularly the possibility of such regulatory requirement becoming an administrative and financial burden. In my view, entity based regulation should be considered with the possibility of it being applied to a sub set of entities.
I am in favour of it if it is done right. I am opposed to compliance based regulation.
I need to learn more about this issue before commenting.
Honestly, not sure what this issue relates to.
I think that the work of CSO (civil society organizations) in delivering legal services is appropriate and an important response to access to justice challenges in Ontario. Having CSOs fall under LSO competency requirements would be necessary to ensure a proper standard of delivery of services.