Candidate bio description
1997 Call. Mid-career commercial lawyer in Toronto with blue collar roots in Northern Ontario. Law Society Medalist and Certified Specialist. Lecturer at Queen's University. Tutor for LSO Licensing Exams, LSO Mentor and experience as an Articling Principal. Published author. International law reform consultant. Proven leader with governance experience. Served on the Board and the Finance Committee of a large charity with a $35+ million investment portfolio and $17+ million in revenue, and managed a statutory corporation with $50+ million in revenue and over 7,000 stakeholders. Active and dedicated volunteer. Visit www.shea4bencher2019.com.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
In 2011, I contemplated running, but ultimately decided to "wait my turn". I was asked this year to once again "wait my turn" and defer running until 2023. I refused and am running as an independent without the support of my firm. I am sorry for that, but I feel strongly that Convocation should be fully representative of the profession in all respects and what I see at Convocation currently is not. The pressure on lawyers to "wait their turn" and the reluctance of more senior leaders who have made their contribution to step aside and make room for the next generation contributes, in my view, to this situation. I feel that as a mid-career commercial lawyer from a blue-collar background with a solid foundation in business and governance I have something to offer the profession and I want to contribute.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Identifying a single "biggest" issue facing the profession is difficult, but my biggest concern is the barrier to entry that is presented by the cost of qualifying. A career in law should not be available only to wealthy or those that are prepared to incur massive personal debt. I come from a blue collar background and I do not think it would be economically feasible for me to qualify today. I am also concerned that young professionals be provided with solid mentoring and training to ensure that they are able to deliver quality legal services and that we address access to justice by, for example, ensuring that PBO has the funding it needs.
What would be your first priority upon election?
To get myself quickly up the learning curve — experience has taught me that no matter how much research you do before you are brought onto a board, there is a learning curve to climb once you get there--and establish solid working relationships with my fellow Benchers, the Ontario Bar Association and local law associations.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I hope to address: (a) cost as a barrier to entry and an access issue; (b) shorter terms (3 years) and term limits (2 terms) for Benchers; (c) support for young professionals; and (d) long-term and stable support for PBO through the Law Foundation. I also hope to that Convocation will examine the cost of a Bencher campaign to determine whether that presents an unreasonable barrier and how the LSO spends its money to make sure that spending is focused on the LSO's statutory mandate. My full platform is at www.shea4bencher2019.com.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Toronto is a big place and there are a lot of concerns for the profession. I think there are, however, a number of concerns that are expressed more than others. The cost of legal education as a barrier and an accessibility issue. Diversity and the evolution of Convocation to better reflect the profession as a whole. Support for pro bono activities. I personally also have an issue with LSO resources being spent on advertising and promotion of the LSO. I do not, personally, see this as being directly linked to the LSO's statutory mandate.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Yes, but as a first step towards a solution.