Paul M. Cooper

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – Central East Region

Priorities

I have a number of priorities for the next four years. First, I will fight to continue the progress we have made on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Second, I want to increase our standard insurance coverage from $1M to $5M, and do so in a manner that does not result in any increased costs to our membership. Third, I want the Law Society to embrace new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and provide resources so that new technologies are accessible to our entire membership. I believe that the use of new technologies has the potential to make us better service providers for our clients, and increase our value-add as lawyers. Fourth, I want to continue discussion regarding governance reform, to ensure that we are an efficient, independent, and self-regulated body. At the same time, the Law Society must ensure that any future changes are in line with and reflect the diversity of our profession and community. The Law Society must ensure that Convocation is large enough to truly reflect the diversity of the legal profession, the diversity of our community, and the diversity of the public.
Fifth, I will continue to work on and improve the competency of all members of the Bar through education programs and resources. Among other things, the Law Society has a host of archived materials that should be made more easily available and accessible for free. In addition, it is my position that the education component of the LPP should be expanded to all new licensees.
Lastly, with the Law Society back in the access to justice space – it is my position that we need to be an advocate and a leader in bringing together Legal Aid Ontario and other gatekeepers. Specifically with respect to Legal Aid, I have the following four objectives going forward: (1) bring LAO to the table to negotiate; (2) promote the control over who is selected to act as Law Society’s Director of Legal Aid and provide them with our mandate together with a requirement that they report back to Committee so that we can measure their performance; (3) require Law Foundation appointees to engage in discussions with LAO to promote efficiencies within their organization and to remind them that the most successful form of service delivery is through the lawyer-of-choice certificate model; and (4) encourage the high degree of quality of service provided by duty counsel.

Background

I am a small firm practitioner living in York Region with my office in Vaughan. Throughout my career I have held a unique connection to the courts and legal community in the Central East Region. I understand what it means to be a lawyer practicing outside Toronto and also be a small firm practitioner. My practice as a trial lawyer has provided me with the opportunity to appear throughout the province on very serious and some high profile cases, and I have developed a strong and direct manner of communication. I have been honoured to serve as Bencher from Outside Toronto and I am committed to continue to serve as a strong voice at Convocation for the entire profession. Je m’engage a bien représenter tous les membres de la profession.

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

Candidates I support

Outside Toronto: Jacqueline Horvat (SW), Teresa Donnelly (SW)

Toronto: Jonathan Rosenthal, Caryma Sa’d, Rebecca Durcan, Gina Papageorgiou, Peter Wardle, Paul Le Vay, Orlando Da Silva, Jayashree Goswami, Isfahan Merali.

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

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

The LSO has the ability to further protect and promote small firm and sole practitioners. For example, the LSO can consider, through its subsidiary LawPro, the establishment of an opt-in retirement plan for its membership. The infrastructure exists at LawPro such that we could create and build a sustainable plan. I also believe that the LSO can assist in helping match young lawyers, both in rural and urban areas, with retiring lawyers. This might help address the shortage of jobs for young lawyers, while also addressing the “greying of the bar”.

website

www.votecooper.ca

email

paul.cooper@cj-law.ca

social media

Twitter: @TheLawGarage
www.cj-law.ca

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

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With the Law Society back in the access to justice space, it is my position that we need to be an advocate and a leader in bringing together Legal Aid Ontario and other gatekeepers. I have the following four objectives going forward: (1) bring LAO to the table to negotiate; (2) promote the control over who is selected to act as Law Society’s Director of Legal Aid and provide them with our mandate together with a requirement that they report back to Committee so that we can measure their performance; (3) require Law Foundation appointees to engage in discussions with LAO to promote efficiencies within their organization and to remind them that the most successful form of service delivery is through the lawyer-of-choice certificate model; and (4) encourage the high degree of quality of service provided by duty counsel.
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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.
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The cost of legal education is absurd and creates a barrier to equitable entry. It is time for the LSO to step up and advocate against this. While doing this, the LSO must look internally and examine its own prohibitive costs to entry for candidates, our future.
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I support the requirement to abide by the statement of principles. It is my position that we need to go further: that every licensee should have a copy of the Statement of Principles posted in their reception area, so that it is not only that other members of the profession feel comfortable and safe, but also clients and the public who we are to serve. Beyond being a part of our role as lawyers and leaders in community, the public and the clients that we serve must have confidence that our offices are a safe place in their quest to obtain access to justice.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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The Law Society must take the lead to ensure that its membership understands and embraces new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. As a profession, we must understand new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and embrace and leverage them in order to become better service providers for our clients. In terms of the regulation of new technologies, we must ensure that we understand that there will be a need to regulate some of these new technologies, to ensure that we adequately protect and serve the public. In addition, we must ensure that new technologies are accessible across our membership, including to small firm practitioners. We must provide resources and advocate to make these new technologies accessible.
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I strongly support the LPP program. It is my position that the education component of the LPP should be expanded to all new licensees in the form of a global 3-month LPP / bar admission course for all licensees. This should be followed by a period of Articling, as long as the barriers of entry are eliminated. If that proves impossible, then I am in favour of eliminating the Articling requirement.
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I am not a fan of unbundled services. This is not the best path to promote access to justice. We need to continue our work in finding a better and sustainable solution to ensure that the public has access to legal services.
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I am in favour of entity-based regulation. There is a general need to regulate the entity, but we must determine whether this should be applicable to all firms, or only firms of a certain size. We must be cautious not to burden small-firm practitioners unnecessarily.
Expand to read Paul's views
The Law Society must take the lead to ensure that its membership understands and embraces new technologies. As a profession, we must understand new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and embrace and leverage them in order to become better service providers for our clients. In terms of the regulation of new technologies, we must ensure that we understand that there will be a need to regulate some of these new technologies, to ensure that we adequately protect and serve the public. In addition, we must ensure that new technologies are accessible across our membership, including to small firm practitioners. We must provide resources and advocate to make these new technologies accessible.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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I believe in reconciliation. The LSO has a duty as part of its mandate to continue to be a leader in reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
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We have adopted an exception for civil society organizations. Beyond this, I am against ABS.
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I am a current member of the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Working Group. As such, it would be improper for me to comment beyond referring you to the recommendations passed by Convocation to date.

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Expand to read Paul's views
Absolutely. At times, for profit. At other times, in support of its membership. Among other things, the Law Society has a host of archived materials that should be made more easily available and accessible for free.
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Expand to read Paul's views
This is where the Law Society has made some movements in understanding and supporting its membership. There is so much further that we must go. This term will prove to be a historical time to improve understanding and to assist in providing access to resources for people that need help. In this election, we must support leaders in this area who are seeking a term as bencher such as Orlando Da Silva and Caryma Sa’d.
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The LSO must fund its core mission.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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We have a long way to go to eliminate inequitable barriers. I believe that it is essential that the Law Society support and empower women and racialized lawyers. We can begin to address these issues through resources that promote education and mentorship. First, with respect to education, the Law Society should provide free programs that qualify for CPD requirements to assist in promoting and educating the membership at large about the need for creating an even playing field. Second, the Law Society should enhance the Coach Advisory Network and provide incentives for participation. In addition, we should set up a hotline, run by mentor volunteers who can earn CPD hours, who are there in the evenings or weekends, who can help assist on specific issues and with their practice, so that no one feels isolated. In this way, we can help support and retain new lawyers who have entered into the bar. Lastly, the Law Society needs to continue to reach out as an ally. The Law Society must communicate with various groups in order to understand how best to address issues. The Law Society has an obligation to be an ally in equality and diversity, and to understand and address the continued challenges faced by minority groups within our profession.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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I do not support any expansion of scope of practice for paralegals or other non-licensees. The Law Society must protect and promote the public interest by ensuring that the competency levels are enhanced from the present standard. There continues to exist a significant number of paralegals who were never subject to any testing of their competency and were “grandparented” in. The issue is not about competition between lawyers and paralegals. The issue is rather one of competency, access to justice, and the protection of the public. There is no evidence-based argument that expanding the scope of services of paralegals and other non-licensees will in any way assist in remedying the access to justice crisis. In addition, there are certain areas such as criminal law, where the stakes are so high and the penalties are increasingly severe, that the public is not being protected by permitting non-lawyers to defend individuals’ rights and liberties as protected under our Charter. I will continue to be a strong voice against any non-evidence-based endeavours to expand the scope of practice of paralegals and other non-licensees into family law and/or criminal law.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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There must be funding for staffed local libraries. Simply put, if you practice outside Toronto, you get it and you protect it. It is about community and access to justice.

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Endorsements of this candidate

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Ontario Crown Attorney’s Association (OCCA), Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA), South Asian Bar Association (SABA), Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL), Law and Mental Disorder Association (LAMDA)