Tanya Walker

Lawyer Bencher Candidate – Toronto Region

Priorities

For three years as an elected Bencher, I have devoted myself to the work of the Law Society on behalf of the public interest by assisting with governing lawyers and paralegals. I ask for your support to continue that work.

On a professional note, practicing law has been my passion for 13 years, nine of which I have spent fashioning my own law firm with four lawyers and paralegals. We are attentive to our clients, involved in legal issues in this election and engage in public service. I bring this passion in seeking your vote to be re-elected as Bencher in this election.

If re-elected I will devote myself to the further refinement of existing issues and development of solutions for new matters as they arise.

Technological Innovation, Efficiency and Preparation: Expand the Law Society Technology Task Force mandate, develop plans and studies to expand and refine technology solutions to prepare for revolutionary changes in the interface between legal technology, the profession and the public with a view to increasing efficiency (i.e. e-filing and CourtCall) and enhancing lawyer-client service while avoiding difficulties such as breach of cybersecurity and privacy.

Training and Mentorship for Junior Lawyers: Promote and expand initiatives that offer mentorship opportunities for junior lawyers through education and a permanent mentorship committee at the Law Society.

Fiscal Prudence: I am committed to maintaining Law Society fees at the present level and identifying efficiencies in Law Society operations to accomplish that commitment.

Diversity: Diversity is a significant and important commitment of the Law Society and the lawyers of Ontario in service to the Ontario public. In the areas of service, recruitment and retention, I will continue that effort.

Background

I graduated from McMaster University in 2002 with an Honours Commerce degree, minoring in Economics. I then attended Osgoode Hall Law School, graduating in 2005 and was called to the bar in 2006. I practiced at two Bay Street firms before opening my own law firm, Walker Law Professional Corporation in 2010. Walker Law employs seven full time employees in the area of commercial litigation.

On August 9, 2016, I was sworn in by the Law Society of Ontario to be the first black elected female bencher from Toronto in the 220-year history of the Law Society.

I am certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in civil litigation. I am also named in Lexpert as one of the Leading Lawyers to Watch in Corporate/Commercial Litigation. I regularly appear on national television stations such as CityTV, CBC and CTV as a legal analyst.

Outside the practice of law, I enjoy staying active at spin class, travel, and spending time with my husband, Daniel, and our son Alexandar.

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

Candidates I support

• Fred Bickford
• John Callaghan
• Janis Criger
• Malcolm Mercer
• Barbara Murchie
• Gina Papageorgiou
• Andrew Spurgeon
• Peter Wardle
• Heather Zordel

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

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

website

tcwalkerlawyers.com/bencher

email

tanya@tcwalkerlawyers.com

social media

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/walker_law/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tcwalkerlawyers
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/tanyawalker
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Walker_Law

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

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I believe that there are always opportunities for the LSO to enhance access to justice.

Three specific measures I believe the LSO can implement to enhance access to justice are as follows:

i. provide more language options for viewing the LSO website, beyond English and French;

ii. create an option in the Lawyer and Paralegal Directory to search lawyers and paralegals by the languages they speak and write. This would provide the public with a more efficient way to identify legal counsel that can assist them in their preferred language and would acknowledge the diversity of Ontario’s population; and

iii. provide recommendations to modernize and digitize the Legal Aid application process to avoid unnecessary processing and Court delays in determining whether applicants qualify for legal aid.

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I support governance reform at Convocation in order to ensure that fresh and diverse perspectives are included at the LSO that reflect the composition of our profession. In particular, I believe that the creation of bencher position for junior lawyers under ten years of call is necessary.
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The cost to attend law school is extremely inflated, however the LSO does not have jurisdiction to change tuition fees or require law schools to reduce them.
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I am in favor of the requirement that licensees adopt and abide by a Statement of Principles

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Technological advancements are an important issue in the regulation of our profession. The LSO’s Technology Task Force is considering how AI technology can and should be used in private practice. This particular issue is important for the protection of the public in terms of security and competence. However, it may also be an opportunity to provide greater access to justice if effectively managed and regulated.
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I support maintaining the articling requirement for licensing along with the continuation of the LPP option.
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The LSO should continue to support lawyers who are interested in providing unbundled legal services, including by creating best practices and ensuring that these practitioners have access to training and support. I believe that supporting and developing enhanced guidelines for unbundled legal services may increase access to justice
Expand to read Tanya's views
Expand to read Tanya's views
I support the inclusion of a duty of technological competence in the Rules of Professional Conduct.

I believe that technological advancements have created a number of significant challenges and have changed the way we practice law. Technological advancements have changed the legal profession in a positive way by streamlining various aspects of court process from filing materials to appearing in court.

However, the widespread use of technology has also led to cybersecurity and privacy concerns with respect sensitive client information. Technology has also changed the way and the speed at which we communicate with clients and with our peers. The immediacy of communication has put a heavier burden on lawyers to manage client expectations and has increased client demands for immediate results and responses. I believe that developing strategies to address the changing legal landscape due to technological advancements and ensuring lawyers are technologically competent will be a major issue facing our profession for the foreseeable future.

Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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As a current member of the LSO’s Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee, I am committed to ensuring that issues affecting Indigenous licensees continue to be addressed as a part of the committee’s mandate.

In particular, I believe the LSO should support efforts to appoint Indigenous judges and adjudicators in Ontario, and continue to recognize Indigenous legal traditions.

I also believe that the LSO should continue to partner and consult with Indigenous groups to better understand how the LSO can contribute to creating greater space for and recognition of Indigenous traditions, and develop a deeper understanding of how different legal traditions can co-exist effectively. In particular, the LSO should make a concerted effort to include members of the Indigenous community in committee meetings and/or appoint Indigenous representatives as de facto members of the Convocation committees, task forces and working groups. This should include engaging with Indigenous communities across the province, whether by visiting those communities or consulting with them through the use of video and teleconferencing.

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Expand to read Tanya's views

Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Expand to read Tanya's views
I believe that the LSO should continue to offer CPD Programs, however the cost of these programs should not be increased.

In addition, I believe that the Law Society should offer free mandatory CPD programs for junior lawyers at small firms or with their own practices to ensure that they are properly trained and prepared to complete their first major tasks, such as their first real estate closing, examination for discovery or trial.

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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.

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I believe that enhancing and promoting the use of mental health services available to lawyers is important and should be a priority for the LSO. I support the work of the Mental Health Task Force and Working Group that is focused on implementing proactive initiatives to promote mental health and well-being in the legal profession.

In addition, Law Society Tribunal staff, counsel and members should receive specialized training in mental health and addiction issues to ensure that these issues are properly and sensitively addressed should they arise in the context of disciplinary proceedings.

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Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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I plan to continue to actively lobby other Benchers to ensure that the remaining initiatives to end systemic racism in the legal profession are successfully implemented. I also intend to continue to educate fellow Benchers and the legal community about my experiences as a racialized lawyer to contextualize and bring to light ongoing issues of racism in the profession.

In addition, I will continue to encourage the LSO to consider diversity in their hiring practices. Since 2016, I have been a member of the Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee. When I began in this role, very few minority women had been employed as the LSO’s Discrimination and Harassment Counsel. The DHC confidentially assists anyone who may have experienced discrimination or harassment by a lawyer or paralegal. Since my involvement with the Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee, the DHC has now promoted minority women to various roles within the DHC.

Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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I am in favour of expanding paralegal scope of service in family law matters, and against expanding paralegal scope of service in complex criminal matters.

I think the most important concern should be ensuring that all paralegals and lawyers possess the requisite competencies to fulfill their obligations and protect the public.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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I support the current level of funding. I believe that local law libraries are an important public resource.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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I believe that the Parental Leave Program needs to be revisited. It is well known that many women feel that they have to choose between leaving private practice and having a family. Alternatively, many women feel that they cannot take sufficient maternity leave due to financial pressures. I do not believe that this is a choice female lawyers should have to make.

I would recommend that the LSO increase the net practice income cap to ensure that more lawyers have access to PLAP benefits. In addition, the amount of support provided should be increased, as it is not consistent with the realities of rising childcare and living expenses, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

I would also propose that the LSO consider amending the eligibility criteria to remove the requirement that the lawyers cease remunerative work and/or practicing law during the period that they receive assistance. The LSO should consider offering PLAP benefits to small firm owners, sole practitioners and associates as a supplement to any practice income they receive during their leave, as these lawyers should not be forced to refrain from doing any legal work in order to be eligible for support.

Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Other topics

Candidate contributions on additional topics

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Endorsements of this candidate

Some candidates have chosen to provide lists of the people supporting their candidacy

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• Fred Bickford, Bencher (Northwest Region)
• Chris Bredt, Bencher (Toronto) and Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
• John Callaghan, Bencher (Toronto) and Partner, Gowling WLG
• John Campion, Former Bencher (Toronto) and Partner Gardiner Roberts LLP
• Janis Criger, Bencher (Outside Toronto) and Deputy Judge, Hamilton Small Claims Court
• Jennifer Dolman, Partner
• Ross Earnshaw, Partner, Gowling WLG
• Amandi Esowanne, Counsel, Labour and Employment, City of Toronto Legal Services
• Arleen Huggins, Partner, Koskie Minsky LLP
• Patricia Jackson, Partner, Torys LLP
• Richard LeBlanc, Partner, Miller Thompson LLP
• Bernie McGarva, Partner, Aird & Berlis LLP
• Malcolm Mercer, Treasurer, Law Society of Ontario, Bencher (Toronto) and Partner, McCarthy Tetrault LLP
• Barbara Murchie, Bencher (Toronto) and Partner, Bennett Jones LLP
• Wesley Ng, Partner, Stikeman Elliot LLP
• Andrew Nunes, Partner, Fasken Martineau LLP
• Gina Papageorgiou, Bencher (Toronto), Deputy Judge, Toronto Small Claims Court and Counsel, Class Proceedings Committee, Law Foundation of Ontario
• Gale Rubenstein, Partner, Goodmans LLP
• Maria Scarfo, Managing Partner, Blaney McMurtry LLP
• Paul Schabas, Former Treasurer, Law Society of Ontario and Partner, Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP
• Andrew Spurgeon, Bencher (Outside Toronto) and Partner, Ross & McBride LLP
• Adam Wagman, Senior Partner, Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP
• Peter Wardle, Bencher (Toronto) and Associate Counsel, Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP
• Heather Zordel, Bencher (Toronto) and Partner, Gardiner Roberts LLP
• Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (Ontario)
• Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
• Hamilton Law Association