The Law Society is presently at an all time low, in terms of public and professional Image, not only in Ontario, but right across Canada, no longer enjoying a reputation for credibility and integrity, while also being in a monumentally disastrous Financial position, that if not remedied,could result in a special levy, on every member, “to get back in the black”, as has happened, in the past, with the errors and omissions Insurance program; This has been caused by initiatives such as the Groia and Trinity Western cases; Groia should never have been commenced, at all, before the LSUC Tribunal and Trinity Western should never have happened, as the issue of TWU graduates practicing in Ontario, was grossly premature, as the school hadn’t even opened; Also, the LSO is now being sued by Ms. DeMerchant and Mr. Sukonik, in a multimillion dollar action, arising from an ill advised Conduct Application against both parties, wherein the LSO Tribunal, Appeal Division, overturned a finding of professional misconduct of the Hearing Division,a warding monumental Costs against the LSO. The lawsuit arises from this fiasco.
All of the above have contributed to loss of reputation and financial instability, as the expense for outside Counsel,is in the millions of dollars as the LSO doesn’t use in-house lawyers, whose job definition should include handling said litigation; The members pay for this hard-nosed, unjustifiable adversarial posture of the LSO, through increased fees ultimately, which is naturally passed on to the fee paying public, while not protecting their interests; Immediate change is required!!
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
In Ontario, the biggest issue facing the profession, is the abuse of the right of self regulation enjoyed by LSO and administered through a Tribunal, completely controlled by the LSO, wherein both entities profess that the Tribunal is an independent body, within the LSO, which is both utter nonsense and impossible; Self-regulation is not a right, but a privilege gifted from the Province, and if abused, must and will be ultimately removed. The LSO must assign and transfer total control of the regulatory process to a completely independent Law Society Tribunal;
What would be your first priority upon election?
Make the Tribunal fully independent, as follows;
1. Amend the Law Society Act to provide that the Tribunal Chairman does not “sit at the pleasure of Convocation”-the Chair must be independent of LSO control;
2. The Proceedings Authorization Committee must no longer be controlled by the LSO, and only have one representative on a panel of three, the others being a member licencee,at large, and a member of the public, at large;
3. Abolish in house investigators ,in favour of fully independent parties, who have no interest in skewing investigatIons, in the interests of the LSO, for their own personal benefit;
4. Refer more matters to police and regulatory organizations (O.S.C) for investigation and prosecution, with the LSO getting involved, after a conviction or a finding that indicates a strong possibility of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming;
5. Replace LSO employee prosecutors, with totally independent licencee members, who are not looking to spend disproportionate time and money on trivial matters, by adopting a “WIN AT ALL COSTS” posture, to primarily benefit themselves, ignoring the bedrock legal maxim-”The sole role of the prosecution is to put the facts and law before the Court (Panel) and it never loses, as long as justice is done”;
6. All Tribunal Orders will be stayed upon delivery of an Appeal or Judicial Review, With onus on the LSO to demonstrate that such provision should not apply;
7. All Tribunal proceedings to be fully video/audio taped, with all parties having access to said tapes, at any time during the proceedings and/or for Appeal or Judicial Review purposes, free of charge;
8. Hearing/Appeal Panels selected from a roster, by LSO and Respondent each Selecting an equal number, with chairman selected by said parties together,to do away with engineered Hearing/Appeal panels or the appearance of same;
9. All panelists must certify that they do not suffer from any medical conditions (dyslexia, hearing loss, attention deficit disorder etc.) that would prevent them carrying out their duties to the requisite standard and that they are fully competent, in all required aspects, in the language of the Hearing,
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of convocation?
1. My stated first priority;
2. Have Treasurer elected by the Membership at large and make it a full time position, with no affiliation allowed to any law firm/practice during incumbency, with the Treasurer to be part of the LSO legal team, as a mentor/consultant, to the extent permitted by the time requirements of the position, with no extra remuneration for so doing; i.e. no practicing law, outside of the parameters of the Treasurer position;
3. Membership not allowed to persons with serious criminal and/or quasi-criminal records, such as tax evasion, insider trading, drug trafficking or being an accessory/conspirator to same, no matter where the offence was committed.
4. Ongoing and repetitive acts of professional negligence and incompetence, to be treated as acts of professional misconduct and handled according to prescribed protocols for dealing with professional misconduct;
5. Abolition of the LSO Trustee Department, with functions “farmed out” to existing Trust Companies, and other entities, that are more proficient and efficient in handling these matters;
6. The LSO to become more proactive in recommending changes in legislation, based on Input from the profession,to initiate needed reforms to statutory provisions and Procedures, such as some in the presently unworkable Family Law Rules;
7. Make it easier for the monumental number of self-represented litigants to access and Implement the legal/judicial system, to also enjoy it’s intended benefits ;which will require allowing paralegals to participate, n the system, to a much higher, more helpful and useful degree, for the benefit of everyone concerned;
8. I hope the cost saving measures and initiatives herein will result in fee reductions immediately and pave the way for the LSO to be a much improved and more respected Organization;
DRASTIC CHANGE IS LONG OVERDUE!!!
What’s the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province? In Brampton, the system is overloaded by criminal/drug matters, many emanating from Pearson International, which are given priority over Family and Civil Law matters, resulting in unacceptably long delays for long Civil Motions, Judicial Review Panel Hearings and Family Law and other Civil Trials; the LSO must get more involved in solving these systemic problems, As they are creating palpable prejudice, to the public interest;
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles
The Statement of Principles is an attempted “haphazard” solution to a problem that has existed for decades that was not addressed because it was not recognized and/or a solution to the situation was not seen as important, by the governing majority; Convocation has attempted to assign the blame for this situation to the membership. With the Statement of Principles requirement; We don’t need the LSO to require us to demonstrate that we are ethical, principled people, by each creating our own written and signed Statement of Principles; Just another useless concocted initiative like the name change to LAW SOCIETY OF ONTARIO; If a person is not rational and right thinking, the LSO cannot make them righteous, by requiring the execution of a Statement of Principles! The LSO has even provided precedents, in case Licencees are unable to compose the LSO desired wording !; The Statement of Principles accomplishes absolutely nothing and is merely to create an appearance that the situation has been recognized and solved, with the hope that it will just disappear, which it won’t.