Michael B. Lesage

Lawyer Candidate – Central South Region

Priorities

The legal landscape is changing, and the main issue is now economic. The requirements of practice (staffing, technology, expert reports) are becoming misaligned with the economics of practice, and the LSO has failed to recognize this fact.

Background

Originally from Brampton and a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, I’m now proud to call the Niagara Region Home.

First licensed in Florida in 2006, my legal background is largely litigation based. Since 2015, I’ve run Michael’s Law Firm as a sole practitioner, so I’m familiar with the challenges faced by small firms, along with LSO impediments to practice.

In my spare time, I like to spend time with family, bike around the Old Town, play hockey, squash, volleyball and ski a few days a year. I also enjoy visiting friends’ cottages during the summer.

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

Candidates I support

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Ignoring its members input, i.e. promoting ideas like Alternative Business Structures or paralegals dabbling in Family Law (rather than addressing any of the underlying issues).

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

Partnering with coding academies and other educational institutions (and trades), to help unemployed and underemployed licensees (and new calls) transition to more in demand fields with brighter career prospects.

website

https://www.michaelsfirm.ca/bencherplatform//p>

email

michael@michaelsfirm.ca

social media

ca.linkedin.com/in/michaelsfirm
https://twitter.com/michaelsfirm

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

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I believe effective representation requires 3 things, namely, a competent representative, who can devote an appropriate amount of time to a matter, and employment of appropriate financial resources in that matter (i.e. costs of litigation, expert reports etc.). Currently, I believe our system requires too much of the latter two, so believe that the LSO should start there. There are also a number of Rules of Civil Procedure that make our system much less efficient than necessary (i.e. Discovery Rules, which encourage objections and motions practice, Rule 48.04, which delays the time until a pre-trial conference and/or trial, delaying the resolution of many matters).

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The current governance structure is clearly unwieldy.
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Legal education is clearly overpriced, given: a) the number of lawyers in Ontario (around 52k); b) the market demand to hire legal graduates (as evidenced by the number of legal job listings on Kijiji, both for new and experienced lawyers) and c) the number of CanLii citations of Law Review articles;
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I have no issues with the LSO regulating certain conduct. I take issue with the LSO regulating thought and belief.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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AI will be transformative, eliminating a number of functions previously performed by lawyers, especially by junior lawyers (i.e. legal research, drafting).
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Multiple pathways to licensing show the misalignment between the supply of new lawyers, and the demand for legal services. There are simply too many lawyers, much as there are simply too many real estate agents for the market to support.
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While this presents an opportunity for growth, the LSO should do more to ensure that lawyers offering unbundled services are not subject to bar complaints and/or malpractice suits, that go beyond the scope of the limited service provided.

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Given actions by certain firms, this is clearly necessary.
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To say the LSO missed the boat on this one would be an understatement. Given a picture of a unicorn and a computer (both far too rare in Ontario’s legal landscape), I shudder to think of how many Bencher’s could correctly distinguish the former from the latter….

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Given Canada’s makeup and history, this is indeed an important issue, but is not the sole issue of importance.

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ABS will be good for the profession in much the same way that Uber has been good for cab drivers. Ultimately, it will also likely affect who seeks to enter the profession, along with how much time and money are devoted to matters. Ultimately, I believe this could have a perverse impact on access to justice. Given the hesitancy by the LSO to embrace other innovations (i.e. technology), I wonder what’s driving this?
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Lawyers, and specifically those working on contingency, should be able to have short, easy to read contracts, that clearly lay out their fees, without having to add pages and pages of terms in an effort to comply with the Solicitor’s Act.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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The failure rate on the current bar exam is so low that the exam is essentially pointless, so why even offer it?

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The number of CPD hours should be reduced to 4, so that licensees only lose a half day per year, rather than the current 1.5.
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By focusing its attention on the truly bad actors, rather than casting a wide dragnet that imposes real costs on many smaller firms.
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In an adversarial system, this is likely to remain a challenge.

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The LSO should receive less funding, and annual fees should be reduced. Did you know that our annual fees of $2,183.00 are higher than doctors ($1,725.00), dentists ($200.00), nurses ($226.00) and teachers ($150.00). Are our wages and benefits?

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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This is not much of an issue in the technology field, which is an in demand sector, with many job opportunities. In law, it is more of an issue, given much lower growth and an oversupply of lawyers.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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As the scope of paralegal practice expands, the justification for the existence of law schools decline….

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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Staffed local libraries are crucial to many local lawyers and smaller firms. Lots of other areas of the LSO budget should be eliminated first (i.e. LSO using our money to advertise and promote itself) before there are any cutbacks to staffed local law libraries.

Other topics

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Candidate contributions on additional topics

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