I support reviewing the governance model of the LSO.
Convocation has adopted an aggressive platform to improve governance reform and reduce the number of Benchers and bureaucracy to make the LSO accessible to both the Public and the profession. Please see more about this at bencherblog.ca
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.
A diversity of experience, geography and background is necessary for the good governance of the almost 50,000 lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. To the extent further reform is required it should be focused on role and mandate.
Good Governance is a journey without end. In order to ensure that Convocation fulfills it primary function, protecting the public and strengthening public trust of the legal profession, Convocation needs to be reformed. If elected Bencher I will propose and support the [reforms listed as Additional Topics on my candidate page]
The current governance structure is clearly unwieldy.
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.
Reduce the number of lawyer Benchers but increase paralegal Benchers to better reflect the number of licensees.
Bencher representation is heavily skewed to older and senior lawyers. As a result, junior lawyers and new calls are excluded from representation. The LSO should include spots for lawyers who have less than 10 years of experience. This would ensure that issues which directly affect junior lawyers and new calls are adequately and thoroughly addressed.
1. Implement further governance reform by capping the total number of years that one can be a Bencher to a maximum of 8 years. Shorter term limits will provide constant refreshing of Convocation, opening the doors to a more diverse and younger group of lawyers.
2. Reduce the number of Benchers to 20. 40 Benchers is far too unwieldy a number of people for good decision-making and good governance;
3. Implement a conflict rule that prevents law firms from acting for the LSO if a member of that firm is a Bencher;
4. Implement a practice of openness at Convocation such that “”in camera”” meetings are used sparingly and implement proper boardroom procedures for Convocation to eliminate long-winded speeches and wandering comments that are not part of the agenda topic. Convocation is not a court room, nor is it parliament, nor is it a place for Benchers to prattle off-topic;
5. Remove all remaining non-voting Benchers; and
6. Move to a staggered term, skills/diversity-based selection process for Benchers.
I do not support radically decreasing size of Convocation. LSO should be governed by a structure akin to a Parliament as opposed to the Board of Directors to increase opportunities for broader representation of varying interests. Decreasing the size of convocation has the potential to result in a less diverse, less regional representative body. Perspectives in Simcoe County vary greatly from those of Bay Street. Both points of view need to be in Convocation.
Any further governance reform must be approached in a pragmatic and reasoned manner. We need to ensure that diversity of background, and location is reflected before Convocation. As a result, any reform must proceed in a manner which protects the ability to have diversity to the table. I support the ideal of establishing designated seats for the representation of newer calls at Convocation.
I strongly support governance reform at the LSO. According to the Hansell Report, LSO governance is unwieldly, archaic and in need of reform. Academics and thinkers such Professor Adam Dodek and Anita Anand have advocated, among other things, for a reduced size of Convocation with inherent safeguards to prevent benchers from acting in conflict of interest. Having attended Convocation on multiple occasions, I have witnessed and been concerned by the laborious pace of proceedings and resulting inefficiencies.
Our profession and the milieu in which we serve are rapidly changing and extending into areas that require regulation – artificial intelligence in business and law, alternate legal service providers, digital transformation, data-driven business models, the implications of cryptocurrency etc. Convocation must be agile, dynamic and welcoming of change. In my view, governance reform is vital to the continued sustenance of self-regulation.
I am a strong believer in reducing the size of Convocation and simplifying our committee structure.
Reduce the number of Benchers.
If the profession wishes to continue to be self-regulated (and who would wish otherwise in today’s political climate?), the profession needs to meet and exceed every reasonable expectation of transparency and efficiency and credibility on the part of the public. And it must pick and choose its priorities wisely in terms of programs, initiatives, litigation and advocacy at both the provincial and federal levels.
I am in favour of it.
The Law Society is in dire need of comprehensive reform and, indeed, re-imagining, from top to bottom. See my “priorities” section, above.
In an effort to get more members involved in their own governance, a new term limit should restrict any member from serving as a Bencher for more than two terms over the course of their career.
Tangible, measurable, and enforceable methodologies need to be devised and implemented to ensure that members are treated with courtesy. A letter from the Law Society should never induce a feeling of dread. Fairness, civility, and cordiality should be the sine qua non of all Law Society interactions with its members. The Law Society should look and act the part of an open, accountable, and modern regulatory organization, and not act the part of a medieval ‘Inquisition’ through terse, arbitrary, or needlessly threatening communications with its members. Cordiality (of both tone and practice) should extend even to those who may be under investigation for possible infractions of professional obligations.
Convocation is too large (40 Lawyer Benchers + 5 Paralegal Benchers + 8 Public Benchers + Other Ex Officio Benchers). The Law Society should continue its efforts to make Convocation smaller.
The Law Society should look to Bencher selection criteria other than simply geographic location. Other factors should be considered when selecting benchers – such as year of call (thereby ensuring that Convocation includes a bencher that is within 10 years of call) and look to competency based criteria.
The Law Society can either lead or follow in the area of governance reform. I would vote to lead.
The current complement of benchers is required to properly service the almost 50 000 lawyers in the province, in a manner which ensures diversity in terms of geographic location, type of practice, and size of firm. It is important that the LSO maintain the variety of perspectives required to properly consider the needs of its members. The LSO can also ensure greater diversity on its committees by inviting non benchers along with benchers to perform committee work, with a focus on ensuring that the perspective of solo and small firms is included and represented on all committees.
The Law Society’s remit does not lend itself not to governance by a traditional Board of Directors. It is rather suited to a mini-parliament. We have taken steps to reduce and eliminate ex-officio members which will enhance the democratic character of Convocation. However, reducing the number of elected Benchers will not enhance the diversity of voices at Convocation.
Yes, the LSO is too large but it also has a quality problem. It is entirely unacceptable that despite while nearly half of lawyers in Ontario have been practicing for less than 15 years, only TWO of the 40 benchers elected were in that category. The average bencher has been called for 27 years. Put another way, the people who are setting the direction of our future as lawyers are, on average, on the verge of retirement. It is no wonder we have the problems of waste, deferment of problems, and archaic manner of viewing the profession.
We need younger benchers and I would support and advance a special category (2 in each region as a minimum of calls 10 years or younger) if elected
Convocation has two roles namely acting as the board of directors of the LSO as an entity and acting as the governing body of the legal professions. If we are to continue as a self-regulation profession, the latter role requires an elected body that is large enough to reflect the diversity of our professions by election but small enough to be an effective decision-maker. A smaller group is required to provide ordinary corporate governance of the LSO.
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.
We must reduce the number of Benchers and ensure a diversity of representation among Benchers. There are currently 90 members of convocation (40 lawyers and five paralegals), 8 lay benchers appointed by the Ontario government, the Treasurer, the current Attorney General of Ontario and 35 ex officio benchers). The Board, as outlined in the “Hansell Report” is far too large for an organizations such as the LSO. The Hansell Report also outlined potential conflicts of interest in how Benchers were permitted to serve on boards of organizations governed by the LSO itself. Such conlicts have lead to self-regulation having been revoked in the U.K and Australia. No doubt we can agree that we wish to preserve self-regulation. In order to do so, we must address the issues that risk this mandate.
As it has been suggested, there are too many voices at Convocation with the number of lawyer and paralegal and non legal benchers. However, we can not have democratic proceedings where not all of the interests are represented. Regional and diverse entities must be included to balance and maintain a true representation of the licensees in the LSO. Hopefully, we are not voting in 50 plus benchers with the same interests and goals but a more diverse group of individuals. It is really up to us to vote the people that we wish to have represent us and maximise the number of benchers we have.
Lower the 26 volunteer days and cap campaigning funds so more sole practitioners can run and be effective once elected
This should continue, with the goal of more effective and efficient regulation in the public interest. I support a modest reduction in the number of Benchers, the Benchers Code of Conduct, a two term limit and consideration of how younger lawyers can best be represented in Convocation .
The LSO still needs more reform. The LSO board is far too large compared to the boards of other self-regulated professional bodies. The key is to reduce the size of the board while increasing and ensuring diversity of our board members at the same.
I support changes to LSO’s governance to reduce the size of the board and to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Diversity of background, experience and expertise are important as is diversity in geographic location, practice area, practice size and type.
The recent changes to our governance structure have already reduced the size of Convocation, and eliminated non-voting benchers. I believe that it is important to continue the discussion regarding governance reform, to ensure that we are an efficient, independent, and self-regulated body. However, the Law Society must ensure that any future changes are in line with and reflect the diversity of our profession and community. It is important to remember that benchers are not akin to directors of a corporate board. Unlike directors of a corporate board, Law Society benchers are required to govern and create policy for the 53,000 lawyers and 8300 paralegal members. In addition, lawyers are the last bastion in the defence of a democracy in our society. Given this unique position, and the unique and important role that Law Society benchers play – the Law Society must ensure that Convocation truly reflects the diversity of the legal profession, the diversity of our community, and the diversity of the public.
Continued governance reform is necessary for cost-effective regulation in the public interest.
LSO must reflect the voice of recent calls, sole practitioners and those practitioners who form the Bulk of the membership.
We are over regulated as it stands. What we need, is to concentrate on enforcement – not creating more regulations.
I believe that there should be greater transparency for the LSO’s deliberative processes, budgets and survey information. This information should be accessible to all members and should include working group information and decisions. I believe that there should also be greater transparency in respect of the LSO’s administration of election processes and regulation of advertising, financing and the LSO’s contracts with third party mailing and electronic delivery companies.
The Law Society also needs to streamline operations by adopting modern technology. Our steadily increasing annual fees should not be considered an infinite revenue source for the Law Society. The goal is to streamline processes to obtain a leaner and more cost-effective Law Society by looking at annual revenues generated and reduction of associated costs.
I would like to modernize and simplify the LSO governance structure, allowing the LSO to accomplish more, quicker, and with less expense. If done properly, without sacrificing adequate representation, the LSO will make better decisions and implement them faster while lowering costs and reducing fees.
Less talk; more action.
Review, reflection and reform needs to continue for LSO, as it works to adapt to the changing legal landscape. I also believe reviewing the current remuneration model for Benchers is important to encouraging diversity in Convocation, as many licensees are unable to afford to be a representative. This disproportionately affects those in solo or small firms, and from rural/or geographically difficult areas.
Convocation is not merely a board of directors managing a corporation. It is more akin to a parliament, taking the ideas of those in the best place to regulate the profession, lawyers, and representing them while still serving the public. Change is needed to improve process. Anyone who has watched or attended a meeting of Convocation will see that. This can be done without losing the many benefits of our current system.
I was pleased with the decision at Convocation in December limiting former ex-official & life Benchers participation at Convocation. It is a large meeting, it could be smaller, but I also believe that it works with the size it is. Reducing the size of elected Lawyer Benchers will be a difficult task as the regions need and should be represented. That being said Paralegal Benchers need to be increased, possibly having at least one regional spot which would expand us to 6 Benchers.
As a sole practitioner and solicitor, I wish to see LSO foster greater involvement in governance from these (and other) under-represented constituencies. I do not believe that a contraction of the number of elected Benchers would further this goal.
There are more steps to be taken.
I am in favour of governance reform that promotes efficient decision making, good governance as well as promotes equity and diversity. I voted in favour of governance reforms at the LSO.
I support governance reform at Convocation that favours renewal and diverse perspectives including, reducing term limits from 12 years to 8 years to ensure renewal and fresh perspectives at Convocation and advocating for the creation of an under 10 years of call bencher role.
To try to avoid LSO governance errors, we must somehow get the profession at large more interested and active in such governance. Changing the number or mode of selection of benchers is not the key; greater buy-in by the profession at large is the key. Step One in this direction would be to restore the status of Ontario-bar-admitted lawyers to that of “members,” and not mere “licensees,” of The Law Society. When we let ourselves be downgraded to mere “licensee” status about twelve years ago, I think we unfortunately gave the benchers of the day the impression that the profession at large was not much interested in Law Society governance; we have to reverse that impression.
I was on governance task force and supported governance changes. Future governance reform should include further reduction of the size of Convocation, particular spots for Benchers with less than 10 years experience, and 10 to 20 years experience, review of election process to change aspects which make it more difficult for some groups to get elected, and make Bencher expenses/costs transparent to the public.
From an outsider’s perspective, the current setup seems cumbersome and not conducive to effective decision-making. I do not have a firm view on what, if any, changes should be made to the structure of Convocation. I would support looking into staggered terms and a composition that accounts for more than regional diversity. I also think there should be rules on election spending, or at least a level playing field in terms of ensuring all candidates have access to “traditional” forms of advertising. It is shocking how much it costs to do a mailout or purchase an ad in the Ontario Reports. Finally, it is time to revisit the compensation structure for benchers. The 26-day deductible disproportionately impacts sole proprietors.
Time restrictions and limitations on those addressing Convocation on any given issue makes sense, however, attempting to reduce Convocation or implement a corporate style Board of Directors threatens to undermine the public representative nature of Convocation and the trust placed in the profession by the public to regulate the profession in the public interest.
I am in favour of reforming the Law Society governance model, to limit the terms of Benchers. As much as I may respect individual Benchers, there comes a point at which it is healthy to encourage fresh governance, as opposed to maintaining the status quo solely for that purpose. I also do not believe in change for the sake of change, but by limiting terms, Benchers will be motivated to addressing the important issues at hand with some sense of immediacy, not feeling that today’s problems can be passed along to the next Convocation, years down the road. The Law Society needs to become more transparent, and more accountable to its licencees.
I support governance reform at Convocation in order to ensure that fresh and diverse perspectives are included at the LSO that reflect the composition of our profession. In particular, I believe that the creation of bencher position for junior lawyers under ten years of call is necessary.
Governance remains an important issue. I would work with my fellow benchers to ensure that our governance structure is right for the challenges that face us. Convocation’s work has been reconfigured to put more work in the hand of committees – that is a good start. I think we have to look at making the process work even better so we can get more done. The way forward will depend on consultation with colleagues and learning how all of the aspects of the LSO work. I am open to considering a change to the size of Convocation.
La gouvernance reste un question importante. Je travaillerai avec les autres conseillers afin d`assurer ne notre structure de gouvernance est adaptée aux défis auxquels nous faisons face. Le travail du conseil a été restructuré pour donner plus de travail aux comités – c`est un bon début. Mais nous devons faire plus de progrès. La voie à suivre dépendra de l`avis des collègues et que j`apprenne le fonctionnement du Barreau. Je suis ouvert à revoir la taille du conseil.
Effective and Efficient Governance must be the goal. Our profession will be regulated in the public’s interest either by a group practitioners the profession chooses and funds OR by a government selected group who will be still be funded by our profession. I hope we can agree that while the first model has significant issues it is vastly superior to the second
Eliminating social activist projects that are outside of LSO’s jurisdiction will lead to a clear and concise agenda. This leads to fewer staff. No more ‘say-one-thing-and-do-another’ voting in Convocation. Benchers sometimes speak against motions and then to proceed to vote in favour. This happened with SOP
I support a much leaner organization with a basic budget, focussed on the core mandate of overseeing licensees’ competence in and compliance with the laws of Canada.