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Haida Gebru

Paralegal Candidates
Haida Gebru

Candidate bio description

As a first generation Canadian I have a deep respect for our legal system which is distinct and unparalleled in principle among many countries around the world. I first developed my passion for the law at an early age as I was fascinated by how the law could be used to bring about change. Raised by a household and a community of hard-working professionals, entrepreneurs, and academics I observed systemic, unconscious, and institutional bias. I am raising my daughter to believe that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to and works hard for. As a way of giving back and making a difference, I have volunteered my time and services to helping marginalized people in some of the most highly stigmatized communities. These communities did not have someone who could effectively advocate for their needs. I was there to make sure they succeeded. I am seeking the opportunity to be a strong advocate for the legal profession. I want to make sure that our regulatory body does not only hold high standards of professionalism in the public interest but models high standards of fairness and equity among its professionals. 

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

What inspired me to run for bencher are the people in our profession whose issues need to be brought to the forefront. Here are some examples: The practitioner who continues to pay increased licensing fees. The professional who cannot find enough work because of the limitations placed on their practice areas. The new licensee who has undergone rigorous training and licensing only to be underutilized at their placement opportunity and offered work that undermines their legal knowledge and capabilities. These are regulatory and governance issues that need to be addressed so that our professionals are setup for success. The success of our profession will lead to better services and greater access to justice which is in the public’s interest.

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?

I believe the biggest challenge facing our profession today is underemployment. This could be managed through practice expansion and job shadowing into new practice areas.

What would be your first priority upon election?

I plan to promote policy alignment within the LSO to ensure that the rules of practice areas for our professionals are in line with legislative changes. Should Bill C-75 come into force with the hybridization of many criminal offences, the rules that apply to our professionals relating to sentencing provisions and limitation periods for summary conviction offences in criminal matters will need to be updated to bring it in line with changes to the proposed legislation. Which means that the current sealing of a 6-month sentence will need to be raised to 2 years less a day, and the limitation periods need to be increased from 6 to 12 months so our professionals can continue to practice in criminal proceedings. 

What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?

My first priority will be to see that LSO policy changes are up-to-date with new legislative changes to ensure that practicing professionals are not excluded from their practice areas and are included within the new legislative framework. My second priority is to research and examine whether licensing fees can be capped to mitigate rising costs for professionals. My third priority will be to evaluate the effectiveness of job shadowing as a practical training tool to be applied to the coaching, advising and mentoring program. Practical experience and exposure could help bridge the gap where regulations regarding training and placement opportunities fall short. I also plan to promote expanding roles for professionals within new practice areas. Organizations can diversify their hiring roaster to include paralegals which give members of the public a viable alternative to obtaining competent, qualified, professional legal representation to improve the access to justice issues. I hope to expand the role of mentors and coaches to job shadowing as it is important to receive practical training from those who are experienced within the profession. I intend to promote succession planning for Benchers by identifying and developing new leaders at Convocation crucial to the growth of our profession and will help to ensure that ongoing issues are addressed. 

What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?

The most pressing concern for our profession is the limitation of practice areas and underemployment. While some new legislation can take opportunities away others can create new ones. This is an area we should explore. 

Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?

The statement of principles has already been adopted. Employers are given autonomy to evaluate and design the strategic direction of their hiring process. The statement of principles provides organizations with the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors and expand their client base into different communities and markets. How organizations leverage the statement of principles will set them apart from their competition. The statement of principles is an excellent opportunity to grow our industry by expanding the market to new and diverse communities which will create jobs.

Carpe Omnia - Seize Every Opportunity  

Our Time to Thrive - Let’s Build a World-Class Profession

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The views and opinions expressed are the candidate and do not reflect the views or position of the candidate’s employer or the Law Society of Ontario.

Poll Question

What do you see as the top issue that prospective benchers need to address if they are elected?