Candidate bio description
Since 2011, I have been privileged to serve as a Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario. I am seeking re-election because I remain committed to the issues that formed the basis for my initial candidacy: equity, competency, and access to justice. As one of the founding members of a small, four-lawyer firm which has now grown to over fifty lawyers, I experienced many of the same challenges that lawyers in small and mid-sized firms face as they develop their practices and strive to provide the best possible representation to their clients. My firm's representation of government lawyers' associations means that I am also familiar with many of the issues that concern lawyers who work in the provincial and federal public service. As the parent of a young lawyer now building his own practice, and as a colleague and mentor for junior lawyers in my firm, I am also familiar with the concerns of new members of the profession. As a labour lawyer for over 40 years, the focus of my career has been on advancing the rights of working people from all walks of life. The labour movement has been at the forefront of progressive social change in the workplace, advancing the interests of employees with disabilities, women, racialized employees, and LGBTQ employees, to name but a few. I have been fortunate to have represented unions in those struggles. As a Bencher, I have worked hard to advance those same interests in the profession, and hope to be able to continue to do so.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
Having served 8 years as a Bencher, I recognize that there remains a significant amount of work to do on the issues of access to justice, equity and diversity, and competence. I am currently involved in a number of LSO committees, working groups, and task forces that are making progress on these important and challenging issues, and I am eager to continue that work.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
In my experience as a Bencher, it is difficult to identify a single “biggest issue” facing the legal profession. Nonetheless, as chair or vice-chair of committees and working groups on access to justice, I recognize that we have a continuing obligation to address the this issue to ensure that Ontarians have meaningful access to legal services and legal information in a way that is affordable, understandable, navigable and efficient. We have made some progress, but the next Convocation will be challenged to move forward with even more direction and determination.
What would be your first priority upon election?
Although there is a formal orientation process for new Benchers, I would like to lend my personal experience to that process. We have significant challenges and work ahead of us. My first priority, therefore, would be to assist my new colleagues in any way that might be helpful to them, including assisting them to become familiar with how Convocation functions and their role as members of committees and working groups. I received similar mentoring from others when I was a new Bencher in 2011, and it helped me to be able to hit the ground running. I would also be happy to provide any assistance my new colleagues may require in preparing for the fall Strategic Planning Session, which will set the agenda for the next four years.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I hope to continue to push for greater access to justice, and to advance the principles of equity and diversity as emphasized by Convocation’s adoption of the Report on Racialized Licensees. As a current member of the Task Force on Technology, I would like the LSO to make significant strides in coming to grips with, and addressing, the changes that technology and AI will bring to the profession over the next four years and beyond. I also hope to continue the efforts we have made to ensure the competency of the legal and paralegal professions, for both new entrants and existing practitioners.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
In my view, the most pressing concerns in the Toronto Region are addressing issues of access to justice, and making progress on diversity in the profession. In addition, technological change is already providing challenges in our Region, and is likely to continue to do so in the coming years.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
I was proud to serve as a vice-chair of the Racialized Licensees’ Working Group which both developed the recommendation on the Statement of Principles and promoted it at Convocation. I unequivocally support this initiative.