Rebecca C. Durcan

Lawyer Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

Background

I ran in 2015. I came in 24th (only the top 20 are elected). However, by August of 2018 I had made my way up the list (through appointments to the Bench and elections of Treasurers) and was officially a Bencher. I have only been a Bencher for a few months. But I believe that my voice and perspective is unique and will assist Convocation. For example, as a working mother, I know the pressures placed on the profession. As a partner of a small firm, I know the realities of trying to create a healthy and supportive environment while complying with the various regulatory requirements. As a lawyer who focuses solely on professional regulation (which means that I assist regulators), I am attuned to national and international regulatory trends. I have co-authored a text used by law schools and administrative tribunals. I am currently the co-author of a judicially cited loose leaf and co-authoring a text dedicated to professional regulation. I have acted as adjudicator, prosecutor, and independent legal advisor for tribunals. I am asked to speak nationally and internationally on various matters of professional regulation. All of these experiences will allow me to bring a distinctive, balanced and individual voice to Convocation.

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

Candidates I support

Jacqueline Horvat, Isfahan Merali, Teresa Donnelly, Dianne Corbierre, Gina Papageorgiou, Peter Wardle, Paul Cooper, Sid Troister, Tanya Walker, Atrisha Lewis, Orlando Da Silva, Malcolm Mercer

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Holding so many Convocations. Instead of holding up to 10 half day meetings, the LSO should look to consolidating them down to 4 full day meetings. This will be a more effective use of time and will cut down on costs.

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

The Law Society needs to become more transparent. It needs to explain the costs of regulation so that licensees understand where their money is going.

It also needs to ensure that it is sharing sufficient and relevant information on the Directory. If the public does not consider the Directory as a credible source of information it will quickly be abandoned and other third party registers will supplant its purpose. Several other regulators have decided to expand the content of their directories to combat this issue. Unless the profession wants non-credible or unregulated websites to provide information to the public, it needs to accept that the Law Society Directory needs to address the needs of the public. For the public is the true intended beneficiary of the Directory.

website

www.rebeccadurcan.com

email

rdurcan@sml-law.com

social media

@Durcanrebecca

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

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There is a correlation between the massive student debt load that many new lawyers are saddled with and their ability to practise in areas that directly affect Ontarians. The Law Society could assist by reducing or eliminating licensing fees for new calls, and providing financial support or incentives for law students and recent calls who commit to working in underserviced areas of Ontario.

The Law Society can also look at how legal services can be more efficaciously utilized. For example, the Law Society can work directly with community stakeholders to address how Ontarians can access the legal system in a less expensive manner. By speaking to the experts on the ground the Law Society can direct resources and efforts to ensure that any needless regulatory hurdles are removed and allow Ontarians to access justice in a more timely manner. The Law Society can also look to providing additional resources to solo and small firms who provide legal services to the majority of Ontarians. By making it easier and less burdensome for lawyers to start their own practises and by encouraging collaboration with paralegals the Law Society can increase the pool of available licensees who can then in turn assist Ontarians. By providing the necessary tools, forms, and notices to solo and small firms, the Law Society can ensure that Ontarians have access to affordable and effective legal services.

Finally, the Law Society can invest in technological innovation so the legal system becomes more accessible and less expensive for Ontarians. This may result in less actual interface with lawyers. However, the role of the Law Society is to determine what is best for the public interest as opposed to the interest of the profession.

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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.

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Too expensive. Although the LSO cannot control this it can clearly communicate to law schools what is required in order to become licensed in Ontario. It can question why
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This is a non-issue. Lawyers are being asked to confirm their ethical commitment to diversity. I am in full support of this minimal request.

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Expand to read Rebecca's views
This issue was recently addressed by Convocation. From a fiduciary perspective, I do not believe that I should wade into this issue in this forum.
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This is a tool that will allow the public to obtain what they want and in a manner that they can afford. I believe that such models should be encouraged so that Ontarians can determine

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Expand to read Rebecca's views
In today’s day and age, I do believe that the public expects a minimal level of technological competence. The profession has evolved technologically and so should its practitioners. The LSO can provide clear expectations and resources to ensure that licensees are competent to practise law in 2019.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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The LSO has a platform to do much in this area.

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Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Expand to read Rebecca's views
Although this is usually the purview of advocacy associations, I believe there is space for the LSO to provide high quality and affordable CPD programs. Several providers are simply too expensive for the average licensee.
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The LSO is permitted to support licensees when it is in the interest of the public.
For example, the LSO can look to waive fees for licensees that work in underserved areas. It can provide in depth “how to” videos and forms for those that wish to hang their own shingle so that Ontarians have access to affordable legal services. It can can look to provide dedicated forms for dedicated areas of law that licensees can download and utilize. Certain forms (which will be provided to clients) can have the contact information of the LSO. THis will ensure that licensees are using forms and keeping records that are in compliance with the LSO expectations. It will also provide its contact information (and its existence) directly to the client so that it can be contacted if there is a problem.
It is important for licensees to appreciate that the LSO cannot advocate or protect the interests of the profession. However, there are situations where the interest of the licensee and the public overlap. That is the space where the LSO can occupy and get creative in how to support licensees.
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We need to do more. People like Orlando DaSilva and Elsa Ascensio are breaking down the walls and initiating discussions that are sorely needed. The LSO has an opportunity

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I believe that this should be driven by data and risk. The LSO needs to determine what activities or areas pose the most risk to the public. The LSO then needs to invest its resources into those areas so that licensees do not find themselves in trouble and clients do not find themselves being served by incompetent licensees.

Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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The public benefits with a robust and diverse legal profession. It is in the interest of the public that women, Indigenous, parent, disabled and racialized licensees remain within the profession and assume positions of leadership. Continued efforts to ensure inclusion are required and necessary. The Law Society has done a great job of creating the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel. But more work is needed. The Law Society needs to amplify its efforts to address the #METOO movement.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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I see paralegals and lawyers as partners. We are both committed to providing high quality legal services to Ontarians. I believe that there is opportunity for these two professionals to work more effectively together. I believe that if paralegals have the competencies and training to provide a wider scope of practice in a safe manner then their scope should be widened. This will ensure that Ontarians have further choice in their legal matter.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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The vast majority of Ontario is served by communities that are not Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Sudbury, London or Thunder Bay. These smaller communities rely upon their local law libraries so that they can provide effective and current legal services. I believe that this funding permits licensees to access legal information and services in a cost effective manner. This will in turn allow them to serve their clients in a way that is expected by the LSO. In short, I believe that this funding is a great investment in the profession and the people of Ontario.

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