Janis Criger

Lawyer Candidate – Central South Region

Priorities

Governance: We have managed to reduce Convocation more or less to the 53 voting members. I’d like to see non-Benchers invited to sit on Committees, to ensure we have diversity of all kinds there, and to introduce younger people to Law Society work without making them give up 5 weeks (minimum) billing time annually.

Tribunal: Every licensee facing misconduct allegations should be heard fairly and impartially and receive clear and timely reasons for the decision.

Diversity (of all kinds): We need voices of all kinds at Convocation because we have people of all kinds in the professions.

Audit & Finance: I think of us as the stewards of other people’s money, and bring that to bear on decisions made at this Committee.

Priorities

First person in my family to go to law school. Graduated University of Windsor, 1983. Called 1985. Worked in Hamilton, then opened my sole, tech-adept personal injury practice in 1995. Appointed Deputy Judge, Hamilton Small Claims Court in 1996; now in my eighth consecutive appointment. Closed my practice in 2015, shortly after being elected a Bencher. Enjoying working at Small Claims, Bencher, Law Society Tribunal Adjudicator, and President of Ontario Deputy Judges Association.

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

Candidates I support

Peter Beach, Fred Bickford, John Callaghan, Rebecca Durcan, Atrisha Lewis, Isfahan Merali, Bard Murchie, Andrew Spurgeon, Sid Troister, Tanya Walker.

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

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

Inviting people of all kinds from all over Ontario to sit on a Committee of the Law Society, so they can get acquainted with the work without giving up 5 weeks (minimum) billing time annually. I think this would be a good fit for younger people who are also starting practices and raising families and it would bring their voices to the table. Committees formulate the recommendations for Convocation.

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website

Criger4Bencher.com

email

social media

Twitter – @Thinqr1

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

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Reduce reliance on the adversarial model; encourage collaborative/ADR models which leave the solution to a given justiciable problem in the hands of the parties. Encourage government to fund Legal Aid properly. Stable Pro Bono funding.

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Maintain 53 voting Benchers, as this serves geographic, demographic, practice size and type diversity. Invite non-Benchers of all kinds, from all places, to serve on a Committee to ensure practice type (solicitors, mainly) diversity there.
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Atrocious. Law Society does not regulate this. Government did, until they stopped. So, dialogue between Law Society/Law Schools and between Law Society/Government, to bring whatever influence we can to bear.
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I support the SOP. I will oppose any attempt to re-open debate on the SOP. The SOP is a vital first step in a comprehensive set of recommendations designed to accelerate a culture shift in the profession. We serve all of the public. It’s in the public interest for members of the public to see that lawyers clearly acknowledge their human rights obligations.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Yes, please, as long as it (or the person/entity using it) can be properly regulated to protect the public interest. Can’t yet see a way to regulate direct to consumer services, but there should be a requirement to know what you are doing when it comes to using AI as part of a law practice.
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LPP for everyone, but it’s too expensive after 5 above, so my second choice was current system with enhancements, which was passed.
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Of course we should have unbundling. Each practitioner should make sure, though, that the limits of the retainer are clearly spelled out.

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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.
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Yes. This will increase in importance as AI and legal tech make their way further into the practice of law.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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First, we need to face the truth. Facing the truth is painful and causes great shame, but we can’t reconcile unless we gain proper insight into how this country came to be. Then we can reconcile, by bringing our two systems together to make them work better for both groups.

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I am in favour of the Civil Society initiative passed by Convocation. I am not in favour of law practice ownership by non-lawyers. Too many potential conflicts of interest.
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Contingency fees are a good idea in theory, as they provide access to a lawyer that might otherwise be unavailable. Contingency fee agreements were terrible and incomprehensible for the client. Many of them contained several pages of dense, confusing information. I support a standardized agreement. I know that Andrew Spurgeon is working very hard on making such an agreement that does not contain dense, confusing information. I also support advertising that is clear and true. Lawyers, of all people, should be advertising honestly.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Yes. It very much serves the public interest that we provide lifelong learning for our licensees.
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There are many organizations that advocate for and support licensees. The LSO regulates licensees in the public interest. LSO can support licensees by regulating well, so that the public maintains a high level of confidence in the honesty and competence of lawyers and the legal profession. That way, we continue as a self-regulating profession, the most valuable asset we have.
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I’m happy that this is finally being discussed and that efforts are being made to reduce/eliminate stigma around mental health, burnout, depression, etc. We might consider CPD programming around maintaining mental health in our stressful profession.

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I support the Parental Leave Assistance Program. It is important for soles and smalls. Practitioners who are not employee associates might have no income at all during any parental leave they wish to take. If we can help with this, it’s the right thing to do.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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If we wish to stay relevant to the whole public in Ontario, we need to work on this energetically. Our demographic diversity has changed. We need to change with it, or become just another profession that fell by the wayside. I’d like to see the culture shift the Challenges Report recommendations are intended to bring about.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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Paralegal practice is different to non-licensee practice. Non-licensees should not be practicing law or delivering legal services. They’re not insured and that harms the customer when something goes wrong. Paralegals should be supplementing what lawyers do, within a clearly defined scope, in the same way that paramedics supplement doctors.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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Absolutely. Libraries perform vital functions for soles and smalls, e.g. assisting with research questions, providing free access to legal databases.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Young people running for Bencher: I support having young voices at the table. They are the people who will be affected by approved policies for years to come. I believe young people should be invited to join Committees, because that’s where the policies are actually developed and because a seat on one Committee won’t take a minimum of five billing weeks out of the practice they are trying to develop. Benchers attend a minimum of 24 days yearly. If you travel from outside Toronto, add another 12 days to that. If you attend a Committee, you might be able to make it 12 days max unless you’re from far away, in which case it could be 24.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Endorsements of this Candidate

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Hamilton Law Association, Christopher D. Bredt, John Callaghan, Rebecca Durcan, Atrisha Lewis, Isfahan Merali, Barb Murchie, Donna Tiqui-Shebib, Sidney Troister, Tanya Walker.