My priority is and has been to modernize the profession by standing for professionalism in the face of pressure to water it down. In Ontario, we lawyers have a “love-hate” relationship with the Law Society. We love the tradition and the trappings. Yet the tradition and trappings have made it exclusive and formidable. Because of its institutional size, the LSO can appear distant and monolithic. Quite understandably, our thoughts about the Law Society tend to react to the quality of our last interaction.
For many of us, especially in small and solo practice, our one point of contact occurs annually when we pay our Law Society dues. This potential for estrangement tells me the Law Society must work hard to ensure members are treated with respect and the highest standards of public service. Let the last interaction with the LSO inspire pride and confidence in our calling.
My election to the OBA presidency in 2010 channeled a widely-felt urgency for professional renewal of purpose. The legal profession, including many in leadership of the OBA, thought the Bar’s role was to protect members from what was going on in the rest of society. The profession’s inability to adapt to the diversity and creativity of Canadian society did very much risk our being left behind. My platform was to prepare us for a host of oncoming occupational challenges. I campaigned for mandatory CPD … I pushed for greater services to regions outside of Toronto … I reached out to the law schools to re-engage. Most importantly, I put women and minorities in leadership positions and watched them inspire others to follow suit.
In 2019, I do believe the Law Society wants to do better to be more relevant, even as some of our members would like us to slide backward. This election is important because we need show the public that we are able to meet and thrive from oncoming change and uphold professionalism as our guiding standard.