Candidate bio description
Although raised in the state foster care system in Gary, Indiana, I was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape the merry-go-round of foster homes that many children endure. I have always felt that it does not matter where you come from, so long as you end up in the right place. Now based in Ottawa, I am the Principal Lawyer of The Law Firm of Antoine L Collins, a progressive and dynamic firm offering personalized service in a variety of legal disciplines. With a primary focus on Real Estate Law. I’ve practiced law in the United States and Canada over the past 15 years. After graduating in 2002 from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, my career began as an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Baltimore City’s States Attorney’s Office. There, I prosecuted cases ranging from minor theft to felony child abuse and domestic violence. Subsequently, I took a position with one of Baltimore’s top law firms, defending Workers’ Compensation cases. My call to the Ontario Bar was in 2011. I get so excited when I think about the Ontario Bar’s future and the prospect of being the voice for so many of our colleagues working hard to successfully govern in the public interest. If elected as Bencher, I will strive to continue the Bar’s legacy and impact by ensuring that the Law Society stays relevant in an ever-changing legal environment, adapting to new technology and infrastructure and promoting greater engagement by our members. At the end of the day I hope to help our governing body move toward better reflecting the changing demographics of our profession and our province by infusing it with fresh ideas and new perspectives.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
As I look at the current composition of the Ontario bar, from lawyers to judges, to members of our governing body, I clearly see that it does not represent the changing demographics of either our profession or of Ontario. My desire to run for Bencher was greatly inspired by the controversy surrounding the Statement of Principles (SOP) and my general interest in participating in the continuing fight against systemic racism in Canadian society. As a lawyer, who is himself a visible minority and a member of the LGBQT community, I strongly support the fostering of equality and welcoming of diversity in Canada and in the law society. For me, the SOP embodies principles that we as lawyers/human beings should already be upholding. I see it being principally about conducting ourselves in a manner that recognizes the centrality of the human right to equality, and which is engendered through a respect for diversity, and inclusion. To be frank, let us not forget the very real barriers of race, religion and gender which, historically, faced minorities seeking to practice in our profession. The SOP is a step in the right direction to help eliminate these barriers by bringing greater focus to this issue and establishing a stronger foundation for the future of the law society. I am proud to be part of a profession which attracts an amazing and diverse array of talent and I intend to be a strong voice and advocate for diversity and inclusiveness. For me, the bottom line is that we all benefit when our profession reflects the diversity of all its members, and it is our obligation to strive to increase its visibility. I am personally committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the legal profession. I will strive to help the law society create clear guidelines to help promote racial, gender and LGBTQ2 equality. I hope to participate in initiatives that increase the visibility of our legal community in promoting diversity, inclusion and in battling the remaining vestiges of racism in our profession. We all have a part to play and I will push for increasing diversity in the legal profession, starting with outreach and mentoring.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
I find it difficult to choose a single issue. There are many critical issues facing our profession that need to be addressed, including: access to justice, diversity and inclusion, the pathway to becoming a lawyer, issues facing solo and small firms, issues facing solicitors, licensing fees, CPD fees, parental leave program, the future of legal aid, the future of pro bono services, the economic stability of the law society, etc. However, I appreciate that, collectively, we as a profession will have to sit down and have the hard conversations, set priorities and take well-founded decisions in order to move forward and keep up with the fast-changing landscape of the legal profession.
What would be your first priority upon election?
My first priority is to jump into the bencher role with both feet, and by listening, asking questions and informing myself, I will try to understand the full complexity of the issues at play, and make solid decisions based on my conscience and the best interests of both the of our profession and the public.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
During the next four years, I hope to help our governing body move toward better reflecting the changing demographics of our profession and our province by infusing it with fresh ideas and new perspectives.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
In Eastern Ontario, I will be guided by my consultations with members, but off the top of my head, some of the more pressing concerns seem to be the issues faced by solo practitioners and small law firms, such as: the high cost of licensing fees and CPD, as well as broader challenges with the retention of visible minorities and women, lack of training and ongoing mentorship. I appreciate that these issues are complex and will not be easily tackled. Serious collective examination and debate will be required to develop recommendations to address the complexity of these issues, especially if we want to achieve a sustainable, long term solution.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
YES!! I am personally committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the legal profession. I will strive to help the law society create clear guidelines to help promote racial, gender and LGBTQ2 equality. I hope to participate in initiatives that increase the visibility of our legal community in promoting diversity, inclusion and battle the remaining vestiges of racism in our profession. We all have a part to play and I will push for increasing diversity in the legal profession, starting with outreach and mentoring. The SOP is a small step in the right direction to help eliminate these barriers by bringing greater focus to this issue and establishing a stronger foundation for the future of the law society.