E. Patrick Shea, LSM

Lawyer Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

My priorities are: (a) Addressing the high cost of a legal education and qualifying as a barrier to entry and an access issue. Entry to the legal profession should not be restricted to the wealthy or those prepared to incur massive debt; (b) Shorter terms (3 years) and term limits (2 terms) for Benchers to ensure that Convocation evolves more quickly to reflect the profession as a whole. Without staggered terms, we now see major shifts in the composition of Convocation only once every 12 years; (c) Support for young professionals to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide high quality legal services; and (d) Long-term and stable support for PBO through the Law Foundation and the expansion of community legal aid clinics. I also hope to that Convocation will examine the cost of a Bencher campaign to determine whether that presents an unreasonable barrier and how the LSO spends its money to make sure that financial resources are focused on the its statutory mandate.

Background

1997 Call. Mid-career commercial lawyer in Toronto running as an independent–my firm’s senior management is throwing the firm’s full support behind an incumbent seeking a third term and wants me to “wait my turn” and I won’t–with blue collar roots in Northern Ontario. Law Society Medalist and Certified Specialist. Lecturer at Queen’s University. Tutor for LSO Licensing Exams, LSO Mentor and experience as an Articling Principal. Published author. International law reform consultant. Advisor to the Ontario government on business law reform. Proven leader with governance experience. Served on the Board and the Finance Committee of a large charity with a $35+ million investment portfolio and $17+ million in revenue, and managed a statutory corporation with $50+ million in revenue and over 7,000 stakeholders. Active and dedicated volunteer.

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

Candidates I support

Quinn Ross, Orlando Da Silva, Francois Baril, Geoff Pollock, Ian Speers, Mirilyn Sharp, Isfahan Merali, Jayashree Goswami

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

The LSO needs to examine its spending and budgeting. Spending on advertising and marketing is not the best use of a regulators financial resources. Deficit budgeting over longer periods is also an issue. To keep fees down, the LSO has been using investment reserves to cover losses. As a rule, reserves should not be used to cover operating losses. Aside from eroding reserves, this practice also means that lawyers may not fully appreciate the true cost of the programs and services delivered by the LSO. In addition, projecting large increases in the number of lawyers paying fees and the revenue derived from students attempting to qualify in the future may not be appropriate. As the profession becomes more saturated, opportunities will diminish. That combined with the ever-increasing cost of tuition and qualifying will, at some point, impact the number of lawyers who seek to qualify.

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

I would like to see more involvement of non-Benchers on LSO Committees. Where a Committee is not exercising delegated authority, there is no reason why there should not be broader representation from the profession on the Committee.

website

www.shea4bencher2019.com

email

shea4bencher2019@outlook.com

social media

https://twitter.com/shea_lsm

www.facebook.com/shea4bencher2019/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/e-patrick-shea-lsm-cs-285509a/

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

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I support stable and long-term funding for PBO through the Law Foundation. I also support the expansion of Community Legal Clinics as a effective and cost-efficient means of providing high-quality legal services to under-serviced communities. I would not be a lawyer were it not for South Ottawa Community Services. I joined the SOCLS Board as an under-graduate student through a (now defunct) government program to teach young people the skills necessary to sit on non-profit boards and ended up Chairing SOCLS in my final year of Law School. I saw first-hand what salaried lawyers and Community Legal Workers can do to provide access to justice!

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Convocation should reflect the profession in all respects and must evolve quickly to do so. I support reduced terms (3 years) and reduced term limits (2 terms) for Benchers. In my view, no one should serve on Convocation for more than 6 years and certainly not for 12. Senior lawyers who have made their contribution should be transitioning to a mentor and support role, and passing Convocation on to the next generation of leaders. There must also be a review of the cost of running a Bencher campaign. Much like the profession in general, Convocation should not be a place for only the wealthy or those willing to incur personal debt to fund campaigns. We must also get the profession to vote and to do so based on platforms and not name recognition driven by advertising and promotion. Large firms, the government as an employer of lawyers, and law associations and organizations have a role to play in ensuring that lawyers vote.
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While I recognize that the LSO does not and should not control what universities charge for tuition, the simple fact is that the cost of a legal education and qualifying is too high and that presents a diversity issue and a barrier to entry. The ever-increasing saturation of the market for legal services, particularly in large centers, only makes the situation worse for struggling young lawyers. The LSO should put in place programs that assist younger lawyers who are struggling financially and provide assistance to those who wish to practice in under-serviced communities.
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I support the SoP as a first step. I do not think that the debate over whether it is “forced speech” should dominate the Bencher campaign. While I respect the right of those that take that position to advance their argument, it is distracting us as a profession from the work necessary to make words on paper the reality on the ground going forward.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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AI is going to change the way we practice and going to present both challenges and opportunities. To the extent that AI can facilitate access to justice, then it should be adopted. I do not support specific regulation by the LSO on the use of AI.
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Experiential training is essential to developing the skills and judgment necessary to provide high-quality legal services. The LPP and articling can both provide that training. However, articling provides the secondary benefit of increased likelihood of post-call employment. I would like to see LPP candidates have the same access to employment opportunities as the students who are fortunate enough to secure articling positions. I am also concerned with the cost of the LPP and whether that cost presents a barrier to access for students who are already burdened by student debt.
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Where the “unbundling” can assist in making legal services more affordable and facilitate access to justice, it should be adopted. Consideration needs to be given, however, to how “unbundling” might give rise to conflicts/confidentiality issues and how those issues should be addressed.

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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.
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Technology plays an ever-increasing role in the practice of law. To the extent that a lack of competence presents a practice-related issue, then it falls within the LSO’s mandate to address that issue, but in the absence of such an issue, the willingness or ability of lawyers to use technology to service their clients ought not to be a concern of the LSO.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Lawyers have an important role to play in the reconciliation process and should do so. However, I encourage lawyers to not just speak about reconciliation. I grew up in Northern Ontario and have seen first-hand the challenges that Indigenous people face on a daily basis. Talk of reconciliation and introductory words at conferences are absolutely important and necessary, but those actions alone do not provide clean drinking water, adequate housing, proper recreation facilities, employment opportunities or affordable nutritious food for Indigenous people living in remote communities. Nor do words alone address the mental health issues faced by Indigenous youth that drives the high suicide rates we see in those communities–no child in Canada should ever be in a position where they see no way forward other than to take their own lives. We as lawyers can and should take active steps as individuals to address those issues. Why an atrium or lecture hall in a law school, when it could be a rink in a remote fly-in community?

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Provided that practical control of the entity remains with lawyers and they are ultimately responsible for the legal services provided, lawyers ought to be free to chose their own business structure. There is no public interest reason to, for example, prevent non-lawyers from being a shareholder of a PC provided that the majority of the voting shares are held by lawyer and the directors are lawyers.
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With the exception of addressing misleading or unprofessional advertising, how a lawyer markets his or her practice ought to be a business decision made by the lawyer. Similarly, provided that fee arrangements are clearly disclosed and not unconscionable, they ought to be an issue between the lawyer and the client, subject of course to oversight by the Court.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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We need to ensure candidates are receiving the proper knowledge base–a skill is the practical application of knowledge. The current exam process appears to have become an exercise in using an index, and a business opportunity for those that can produce such documents. Not all candidates are able to afford a “professionally” prepared index or take the time away from their families or children to produce one. I believe that the money the LSO currently spends on tutoring might be better deployed by having the OBA and local law associations provide educational weekends or evenings for candidates that are available both in person and remotely. I personally found that the old model provided better results from a educational perspective, although it presented its own issues in terms of cost and time commitment.

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This is a difficult question. Personally, I would prefer that the LSO not compete against the OBA/CBA and other law associations in the provision of CPD. However, we have to appreciate that for 2019 the LSO is projecting over $8.6 million in top-line (about $4.3 million net) revenue from CPD. That represents 6% of the LSO’s budgeted top-line revenue. Removing that revenue would likely require a fee increase (about $100 per lawyer assuming all costs associated with CPD were also eliminated) and/or a reduction in LSO programs and services. I do not say that this should not happen, but those sorts of hard decisions require broad consultation with the profession.
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While the LSO’s primary focus must be the public interest, that is not necessarily in conflict with the interests of lawyers. My personal view is that the high cost of legal education and qualifying, when combined with the ever-increasing saturation of the market for legal services, is going to present ever-increasing economic issues for practitioners. The LSO should adopt measures such as, for example, fee rebates and incentives for young practitioners who wish to practice in under-serviced communities.
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I can do no better here than point to everything Orlando Da Silva, LSM has done and stands for in this regard. For me personally, the happiest day in my life was when I secured recognition that Wing Commander Byron Rawson, DFC, a young law student who suffered a breakdown and killed himself after returning from overseas, had died as a result of his service. This was first time a post-discharge WWII soldier who killed himself has been officially recognized as having died as a result of service. My saddest day was when the Benchers decided that they would not use Rawson’s sacrifice to educate young lawyers and law student on mental health and instead just quietly added his name to the LSO’s WWII Memorial. We must use every possible opportunity to help members of the profession identify and deal with mental health issue.

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The LSO’s funding priorities ought to be driven by its legislative mandate. Every materials budget decision should include an explanation as to how the program or initiative fulfills the LSO’s statutory mandate.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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The LSO must be fully reflective of the professional in all respects.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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Lawyers and paralegals each have a place in providing legal services. The issue is where the line in drawn between the two modern branches of the profession. I do not think that we can ignore the fact that we require that lawyers obtain high level (and expensive) training in the law because we believe that is in the public interest and we must ensure that this is recognized when defining paralegals’ scope of practice.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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In my experience, cases can be won or lost based on legal research, and librarians and library technicians are part of the team that ensures clients receive quality legal representation. I am fortunate to practice in Toronto and to have access to the excellent librarians and library technicians both in my firm and at the Great Library. I know, however, that this is not the case all over Ontario. If, for example, you practice in Iroquois Falls, my home town, you are 1-hour drive from a law library and the resources available are limited. On-line research tools such as CanLII are helpful, but not a complete solution to a lawyer’s research requirements. Solutions such as digitized libraries may assist, but librarians and library technicians are essential.

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