How can the LSO support licensees?

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Quinn Ross

Providing a clear regulatory framework that meets the needs of the public while giving legal professionals the guidance and space to do their work.  There is robust resources on what a legal professional cannot do, more attention needs to be paid to support what they can do.

 

Robert Shawyer

Reduce the amount of regulation by transitioning to a light touch regulatory governance scheme similar to the College of Nurses Vision 2020 proposal. 

 

Michael B Lesage

By focusing its attention on the truly bad actors, rather than casting a wide dragnet that imposes real costs on many smaller firms.

 

Rebecca C Durcan

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.

 

Deepa Tailor

Alleviating some of the financial pressures faced by sole practitioners and lawyers in small firm practice.  Specifically:

  1. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession
    b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental
    c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations

 

Claire Wilkinson

The LSO needs to develop a more useful system when licensees need advice.   As a younger lawyer, when I called the Law Society for help with a challenging situation, I was given such watered down advice that it didn’t practically assist me with the challenge I was facing.   Despite the existence of the Practice Management Helpline and the Coach and Advisor Network, I have recently received feedback from other lawyers that the LSO is still not providing enough practical advice to practitioners who are facing challenging and unique situations.    Surveys should be sent to licensees to determine how effective these services are, and what further steps could be taken to provide more concrete advice to licensees who need help.

 

Sean Robichaud

Reduce fees. Reduce overbearing regulation. Increase accessible and affordable CPD. 

 

Mitchell Kowalski

The LSO is a regulator – not a lawyer parliament. The LSO should regulate in a way that is in the public interest and that does not unnecessarily burden legal service providers.

 

M. Steven Rastin

LSO should attempt to leverage its size and reach to provide cost-effective solutions to members that will assist them in providing quality services to the public. Mental health support services, pro bono legal services, effective enforcement violations of advertising and competition rules should be an area of emphasis. The membership should feel that the LSO is there to provide information and support that they need to provide legal services in the public interest.

 

François Baril

There are number of ways in which LSO can and already does support licensees. A workable and fair parental leave program for independent practitioners would be an important step.

 

John F. Fagan

The Law Society should reduce, not increase, bureaucratic requirements imposed on lawyers and paralegals. If the Law Society budget has to be tapped to ensure that new lawyers and paralegals have access to adequate mentoring, other Law Society expenditures should be scrutinized for potential savings. One supportive thing that could be done right away, would be to restore the status of Ontario-bar-admitted lawyers to that of “members,” and not mere “licensees,” of The Law Society. (Ontario registered-with-The-Law-Society paralegals could and should be “paralegal members” of The Law Society.) The downgrading of our status with The Law Society from that of “members” to that of mere “licensees” twelve years ago or so, sent all the wrong signals to the rank-and-file lawyers of Ontario. It’s now time to reverse that downgrading.

 

Gina Papageorgiou

1. Work with various associations, seeking out their recommendations on what would support licensees and then implementing those that are feasible and in the public interest.
2. Continue the mentorship program and the practice management help line with improvements where necessary.
3. Provide free CPD to those licensees who are not at large firms or other institutions where lawyers typically receive free CPD.
4. Provide free CPD to all lawyers on issues that the LSO finds are getting lawyers into trouble.

 

D. Jared Brown

Get out of the way. Monitor competence. Stop erecting new requirements, regulations, and increasing the cost to the profession.

 

Deepa Tailor

Alleviating some of the financial pressures faced by sole practitioners and lawyers in small firm practice. Specifically:

a. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession
b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental
c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations

I also firmly believe that the LSO can do more to support it’s members to ensure competency instead of the punitive approach the LSO currently takes with respect to regulation.

 

Teresa Donnelly

The Law Society has excellent resources to assist members including: Coach and Advisor network, Confidential Practice Management Help Line, Great Library/research resources, CPD programs, Equity supports and resources, Confidential Member Assistance Program including the Peer Support program, confidential, arms-length Discrimination and Harassment program. We need to ensure all lawyers and paralegals know about these member services and how to access them.

Selwyn A Pieters

To many females and racialized licencees are leaving private private practice for government or non-practising employment. LSO muart continue to make tangible efforts to support the admission, progression and retention of females and racialized licencees in the private practice of law.

Yavar Hameed

The LSO can support licensees by creating more effective and standardized training for licensees in the form of a model of LPP for all licensing candidates. The burden of this programming, however, should be shared by the LSO to subsidize the amount paid by the licensee. I advocate the adoption of a progressive levy in this regard for generating increased revenue prorated according to income of lawyers to support this initiative.

 

 

Jerry B. Udell

 

CLA and more affordable cost

 

Douglas W. Judson

Practically, the LSO needs to provide a prescriptive and clear regulatory framework that removes the uncertainty and risk of “guess-work” for licensees and provides transparency and clarity to the public we serve. 

Culturally, the LSO needs to do more to snuff out toxic behaviour and norms within the profession’s workplaces – behaviour that disproportionately targets women and licensees from equity-seeking groups.

 

Rene Larson

Section 4.1 of the Law Society Act states that “It is a function of the Society to ensure that …. all persons who practise law in Ontario …. meet standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct that are appropriate for the legal services they provide….”

LSO’s primary purpose or function is to ensure that lawyers meet the appropriate standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct.  To me this means that LSO must help, assist and support its members to meet these standards.  The current philosophy of the administration of LSO is to compel compliance with standards through threats of punishment for a lawyer’s failure to meet the standards.  I advocate for a change in philosophy so that LSO HELPS lawyers to comply by the most accessible and low or no cost education process, encouraging lawyers to better themselves and in turn their services to the public.  The LSO should assume its legislated responsibility by educating and helping lawyers to learn and improve.  If LSO can take a HELP FIRST attitude for a lawyer’s failure to meet a defined standard, this will turn the organization around and propel it to new heights of achievement in serving the legal needs of the Ontario public.  Carrots and incentives, not sticks and punishment!  If an individual lawyer fails to meet the standard(s), the first thing LSO should do is look at how it can help that lawyer become better, and the second thing LSO should do is to assume responsibility for the failure and examine how it can improve its assistance to lawyers in general to eliminate similar failures in the future.  

Throughout my answers you will find many examples of how LSO can support its member lawyers.

 

Malcolm M. Mercer

The LSO supports licensees through its practice management helpline, practice reviews, spot audits, CPD and the provision of practice resources. In my view, the next appropriate step is to have the profession self-assess against best practices in practice management and then to make best practices resources available. Our current paradigm is to make resources available and to assess for minimum standards for a limited number of practitioners each year. I think that encouraging better practices by all should be added to our approach.

 

Antoine L Collins

Law Society fees, first any discussion of Law Society fees should start with a detailed review of the LSO’s current budget and its priorities. As a practitioner who has worked as a lawyer for the government, for a large firm and am now a sole practitioner, I understand the importance of this issue specifically when it come to small firms and sole practitioners. For example, I am myself currently licensed and paying dues in three separate jurisdictions: Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Ontario. The fees for both Maryland and Washington D.C. pale in comparison to the fee that licensees are paying in Ontario. As well, as a sole practitioner, faced with rising rents and overhead, I am especially aware of the impact of lawpro and licensing fees on the bottom-line of my business. I would therefore be open to further discussion of the possibility of mitigating the impact of any rising fees on new calls, small firms and solo practitioners.

 

David Milosevic

The LSO can support licensees by reforming aspects of the tribunal system, in particular, the Proceedings Authorization Committee (PAC). It is the PAC that authorizes a conduct application into a licensee. Yet the deliberations of the PAC are confidential, and the materials upon which they base their decision to proceed is not disclosed.

An opaque system such as this is not acceptable for the LSO. As part of the reform of the tribunal process, the LSO should establish a duty counsel office within the LSO to help licensees. Far to many licensee are unrepresented in disciplinary matters, and far too many of these licensees are small firm or racialized practitioners.

This system requires reform to make it more transparent and to provide more resources to those facing professional sanctions that can have serious consequences for their careers.

 

Michael Allan Brown

The LSO changed its name to reflect what I believe to be all of Ontario. Although representation still weighs heavily towards the GTA. I believe not everyone feels the support of the LSO and most of the time fears rather than welcomes the LSO. The LSO could recognize support and “fly the flag” to all parts of the province to show we are all part of the same family of lawyers and paralegals. it would be part of my mandate to reach out as a bencher to these areas north of Barrie (where there is still lots of province left) and support our members.

 

Robert Burd

Continue to provide resources such as MAP, CAN, LSRS, practice audits, practice management helpline etc

 

Jeff Cowan

Maintenance and enhancement of existing supports to ensure licensees are competent professionals delivering legal services in a cost effective manner. Using best practices and sound risk assessment principles to reduce the regulatory burden while ensuring the protection of the public interest. Ensuring reasonable fees and insurance premiums are a baseline for decision-making

 

Tanya Walker

One pressing concern in my region is the disconnect between the rising number of licensees each year and the availability of jobs for junior lawyers. Many junior lawyers graduate law school with heavy debt loads, and must also bear the costs of licensing fees and insurance. In addition, the cost of living in Toronto continues to rise. Although the number of licensees in Toronto increases each year, we have not seen a significant increase in the number of available positions for articling students or junior lawyers.

I feel strongly that we need to develop a strategy to better assist junior lawyers in finding fulfilling positions and ensure that they receiving proper training and mentorship. I believe that supporting junior members of the Bar will inevitably allow our profession to better serve the public.

 

Peter Wardle

I would like to see more programs available for those going into sole and small practice to assist them in getting started.

Kristin Hutton

Reduce annual fees and the levels of management at the LSO.

Paul Le Vay

The LSO should be actively looking for ways to support licensees. Mentorship of young lawyers is particularly important. Le Barreau doit constamment chercher des façons d`appuyer les avocats. Le mentorat de jeunes avocats est particulièrement important.

James Mays

I would support efforts to ensure our licensees learn about and have available to them affordable and accessible CPD, Libraries, Confidential Member Assistance, Peer support and responsive Help lines.

Gerard Paul Charette

Regulate less and when regulating, be practical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Alford

Convocation needs to remain a body that represents the legal system in all its variety, including robust regional representation and with benchers hailing from all levels and areas of practice.  Certain governance reform proposals would threaten this, the sine qua non of adequate governance.  I do not believe that the benchers can determine a priori what would be best for all the licensees of such a varied profession, but should solicit and respect the opinions of all their colleagues on controversial issues whenever necessary.  

 

Nathan Baker

The main job of the LSO should be to support licensees.  It should support lawyers by working with stakeholders like the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Family Lawyers’ Association, the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association and local law libraries to promote competence through mentorship, research assistance, CPD and networking.  The LSO needs to redirect its advertising from nondescript things like “our society is your society” to things which promote the practice of law.  Other professional regulators champion the benefits of their members and the LSO should do the same for lawyers, explaining why a lawyer is needed in a real estate transaction, why a lawyer provides value in a civil case or how criminal lawyers uphold people’s rights.  The complaints process is problematic and needlessly stressful for lawyers.  The LSO should act in a more humanistic manner to help lawyers deal with unfounded complaints more easily while ensuring that the lawyer dealing with a valid complaint is dealt with too harshly.  This will include providing mental health support where appropriate. 

E Patrick Shea, LSM

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. 

 

Addison Cameron-Huff

The LSO can provide guides on how licensees can comply with their obligations. The practical delivery of high quality legal services should be an important focus of the LSO’s support for licensees. 

 

Andrew Spurgeon

Being from outside of Toronto, and a former President of a county law association I know how important local law associations are as places of learning, mentorship and practical support for practitioners.  Enhanced financial and other supports to them from the Law Society are key to providing local solutions to local challenges experiences by practitioners. 

 

Stephen Parker

Have the practice resource centre provide more concrete information to members that seek answers to practice questions, rather than simply tell everyone, they cannot give legal advice. If licensees cannot ask their regulator for legal advise on practice issues, what’s the point of them?     

 

Barbara Murchie

Practice supports, Help Line, Member Assistance Plan, Coach and Mentoring Service, Discrimination and Harassment Counsel, CPD. Reports indicate that spot audits and practice audits are very helpful to licensees. We should work on improving these resources as required.

 

Isfahan Merali

The regulation of lawyers in Ontario must reflect the needs of all lawyers across the province. I have practiced in the public interest for many years. My daily interactions with counsel from small and mid-sized firms, rural and small towns, working on legal aid certificates or in legal clinics, in public service, new lawyers, foreign trained lawyers and racialized and indigenous lawyers have underscored that the practice of law is becoming increasingly complex and stressful. In my role as a mentor to new lawyers from diverse communities I have gained a broader understanding of their concerns and needs for greater inclusion and support.

The Law Society’s core duties includes the protection of the public interest and advancement of the cause of justice– this needs to include proactive measures to address the increasingly complex and stressful practice of law. Professional regulation must include initiatives to address and meet the diverse needs of our colleagues – particularly given the increased challenges facing lawyers in rural and small towns, sole practitioners, new lawyers and those living with disabilities and mental health issues. The Law Society can do more to support and promote improved mentoring for lawyers and explore other initiatives that may help address the root of the problems (unlike costly and stressful formal discipline proceedings). I intend to work hard to ensure that The Law Society’s initiatives on professional regulation, including access to continuing professional development and programmes that promote inclusion, are inclusive and reflect the needs of all lawyers in Ontario.

 

Caryma Sa’d

The LSO must balance its primary function of serving the public interest with its additional role of supporting licensees. I would support implementing fee rebates for lawyers working in underserviced areas, and/or a sliding scale fee structure for recent calls or lawyers below a certain income threshold. I would like to see discussion about a work-sharing program, which could be beneficial to members retiring or winding down their law practice, taking parental leave or other leaves of absence, and those seeking experience or paid work. The LSO should invest in proactive measures such as developing a toolkit or module for lawyers hanging out their shingle or establishing an option to request a practice management audit rather than spot checks. The LSO should also fortify the Parental Leave Assistance Program by reviewing the eligibility criteria.

 

Ian Speers

The LSO can support licensees by fostering an environment in which licensees can serve the public effectively and efficiently. Addressing an aggregate of dozens of “small” things is key. Certainly, some obstacles to efficient practice rest outside of LSO’s jurisdiction – for example, reforming antiquated court procedures. But clear and up-to-date guidance on standards of practice, educational resources, streamlining regulation so as not to overburden sole and small firms, and containment of LSO fees are all within LSO’s control.

 

Jonathan Rosenthal

To expand such programs as Member Assistance Program, the Practice Management Helpline, the Coach Advisory Network and the Parental Leave Program among others.

 

John Arkelian

Instead of paying annual membership fees set at 25% of the full fees, as is now the case, members who are retired and not working in any remunerated capacity, and all members who are unemployed for any reason, should be exempt from membership fees for as long as they remain unemployed.

Every member of the Bar of any province or territory in Canada should have an automatic right to transfer their membership to the Bar of any other province or territory (without any requalification) should they change actual residence from one part of Canada to another. To the extent that that is not already so, it should be a priority of the Society to make it so, in collaboration with its organizational counterparts across Canada.

 

Sylvie Patenaude

Examples of how to support licensees: 1) better manage the license fee and licensing process 2) enforce the existing rules, seriously – as a deterrent to those who my become tempted to flirt or skirt the rules 3) Support your licensees by injecting common sense in the early rejection of frivolous or vexatious complaints!

 

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