Candidate bio description
My name is Atrisha Lewis and I am a litigation associate at McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Toronto. I am a 2013 call, a trial lawyer and a diversity and inclusion champion. I maintain a litigation practice focused on commercial disputes, professional liability and administrative law matters. In 2018, I was recognized as a “Precedent Setter” by Precedent Magazine and I was awarded an Arbour Award in recognition of my outstanding volunteer contribution to the University of Toronto. I am an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law where I coach the Grant Moot team, and lecture on topics such as motions and litigation strategy. Learn more about me at www.atrishalewis.com.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I am running for bencher because I want to bring the perspective of recent calls to Convocation. Convocation is the board of directors for the Law Society. Good governance requires a diversity of perspectives, which must include the perspective from more recent calls. There are no benchers who are under 10 years of call. 75% of current Toronto benchers are called in the 1980s. It is time Convocation reflects the demographics of the profession. Let’s change that together.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
The biggest issue facing the legal profession is access to justice and access to the profession. We must find ways to ensure that our profession is accessible to all, including by reducing financial barriers to law school and licensing. The de-regulation of law school fees has significantly compromised both access to the profession, and access to justice. The Law Society must work with law schools to address this growing problem. The Law Society also has an important role to play in working towards a sustainable and innovative approach to access to justice in all areas of practice including family, criminal, immigration and civil litigation. The Law Society must champion and be a leader on issues such as legal aid and other access to justice programs.
What would be your first priority upon election?
My first priority is to find a way to work with the newly elected Convocation in order to advance our priorities and the reform we hope to achieve in the next four years (see below).
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I would like to see the implementation of all strategies in the ‘Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Report’ ++. We need further initiatives, including improvements to the Parental Assistance Leave Program, On Campus Recruitment reform for the implementation of best practices, such as name blind hiring practices and the inclusion/integration of NCA students in the On Campus Recruitment process. I would also like to see further governance reform for Convocation, including reducing term limits and a designated spot at Convocation for recent calls.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
The most pressing concern in the City of Toronto specially is the cost of being a lawyer. Local law schools are at, or are approaching, $40,000 a year in tuition. Licensing fees are at an all-time high. Toronto is an expensive city to live in. This serves as a barrier to entering the profession and also restricts many people’s ability to choose the kind of law they practice.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
I support the SOP. It is an important first step in addressing systemic discrimination. It is not an infringement on freedom of expression. I am surprised and saddened by the opposition to the SOP. If elected, I will stand up for the SOP requirement.