Where I stand
This incredibly important issue has proven very difficult for the LSO to solve. The solution does not lie in more studies to prove what we already know, but with the courage to take bold steps to ensure a more diverse governing body. This may include dedicated positions for historically disadvantaged groups whose membership in the profession has never been reflected in seats at Convocation. We still have a long way to go. We all must continue in every possible way imaginable to ensure full equality for all licensees. The Statement of Principles is a very small step in the right direction. In my opinion, the lawyers who oppose this initiative do not understand our profession or our public responsibilities.
Hiring a lawyer is not like buying a big screen television. I was member of the Advertising Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group. Our work was a good start. Our job is not nearly finished. The new rules now need significant enforcement to stop those licensees who continue to violate our rules and bring our profession into disrepute. I hope to continue the work.
I firmly believe education does not stop at graduation and that all lawyers can and should continue to learn. That is one of the main reasons I spend so much of my time teaching. I was pleased to be a member of the Coach and Advisor Network working group that established this important program. I worked hard with my fellow committee member to ensure participants would obtain ALL of their CPD hours if participating in this project. This was a good start. However, I would like to see expansion of the scope of CPD so that all CPD hours (including all professionalism hours) can be obtained by engaging in even more activities.
I have engaged for years in pro bono work both in my practice and as pro bono counsel for Beyond Borders. I have engaged in this work as I have the luxury of being able to do it and have chosen to do so. I encourage all lawyers to engage in pro bono work if possible. This should not be a mandatory requirement. Having said this I would support a model that those who do engage in pro bono work do receive considerable benefits from the LSO for engaging in such activities. Be this as fulfilling CPD requirements or rebates for LawPro or LSO dues.
The formal discipline process should be reserved for cases in which the public is put at risk or the conduct complained of brings our profession into disrepute. Members who lie, cheat and steal should be dealt with harshly and expeditiously. In other cases alternatives such as ADR, mentoring and restorative justice should be used. I have served on the Proceeding Authorization Committee since my election. We have made some headway but still, have a long way to go.
Access to Justice
The expansion of paralegal scope is NOT the solution.
Any of us who regularly appear in court know that too many litigants are unable to afford a lawyer. Many of us have suffered through litigating cases in which one of the parties is self-represented. The LSO is now taking a much stronger leadership role in regard to Legal Aid. The LSO must continue with engaging with all levels of government for better legal aid funding and by working with the courts to develop procedures which specifically address the needs of self-represented litigants. The LSO must also strongly support the certificate system.
The young lawyers of today are the leaders of tomorrows bar. The LSO must continue to support our young members as much as possible. Their voice too must be heard at Convocation. This may also require a dedicated position for younger members of the bar at Convocation. Too many young graduates cannot find articling jobs. I strongly supported the LPP both in convocation and in teaching. Too many young lawyers upon graduation do not have sufficient support. As such the LSO continue to do whatever it can to encourage mentoring of young lawyers.