Howard P. Knopf, B.A., M.S. (Juilliard), LL.M., is Counsel with Macera & Jarzyna LLP in Ottawa. Since 1980, he has worked in government, the private sector and academia on intellectual property and related issues. He has appeared in several important cases before the Copyright Board, the Federal Courts, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
He has been Chairman of the Copyright Policy Committee of the CBA and advisor to the Law Commission of Canada on security interests in intellectual property. He has published extensively as author and editor and has organized numerous conferences.
He has frequently lectured at the invitation of the judiciary, government, law schools, the LSO, and other national and international organizations, and has appeared before many Parliamentary committees.
There is more info and updates at http://macerajarzyna.com/hpkforbencher2019/
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I have been in Ottawa since 1983 in Government and the private sector, the last 18 years as Counsel with Macera & Jarzyna LLP, an IP boutique. The late Gordon Henderson taught me that the most we can hope to do professionally is to nudge the law in the right direction. I’ve done that in legislation and litigation and would now like to try to “nudge” the LSO a little – which may be harder than anything I’ve ever done before.
Here's my five minute talk to the County of Carleton Law Association on March 26, 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he4RY0T_9Bc&list=PLFJtxIeBYmYSRZLIW-lv3VQW6hO3Ph_8m&index=8
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
The most important issues facing the profession and, therefore, the LSO are Access, Access and Access. Ordinary people and small and even medium sized businesses often cannot afford the justice they need and deserve. A big reason is the cost of becoming and being a lawyer. Why does it cost ten times as much for bar membership in Ontario than in N.Y. State? Why have the expenditures of the LSO nearly doubled in the last five years? Why are there not more pro bono clinics and facilities to provide access to justice and to help train new lawyers? What will the LSO do to restore adequate legal aid? What will the LSO do to bring Ontario and Canada into the internet age through free or minimal cost-recovery based fees for access to all public court documents and not just reported decisions. Such a system has existed in the USA since 2001.
What would be your first priority upon election?
Specifically, I want to start by finding out why the annual cost to be a member of the bar in New York State is only USD $187.50 or about CDN $250 – i.e. about 11% of the annual cost of LSO membership. In California, the annual bar fee is USD $430 and in Illinois it’s USD $385 – still a small fraction of that of Ontario.
The LSO’s expenditures have nearly doubled in the last five years, during which time it has gone from a budget surplus of about $1.5 million to a nearly $9,000,000 projected deficit. The LSO has budgeted for 615 full time employees for 2019. It will spend about $70 million on salaries alone and about $72.5 million on program and operating expenses for a total expenditure of $142,535,700 in 2019. That’s the annual membership payments from about 52,000 lawyers – which happens to be about the number of lawyers who are members of the LSO. Its governance is enormous and expensive. It has 40 elected lawyer benchers, 5 elected paralegal benchers, 8 lay benchers, and numerous Appointed, Ex-Officio and Honorary Benchers. I want to learn more about how the LSO is organized and what everyone is doing and how they serve the profession and the public through the LSO’s various initiatives. This is a first step to ensuring maximum efficiency in enhancing access to justice for everyone.
Having spent more than a decade in the Government of Canada, I know how bureaucracies tend to expand. It is important that the LSO works to serve the public and its membership in the most efficient manner. We must not let the LSO, however inadvertently, expand and run deficits simply because large organizations that have taxation-like powers tend to do so. The LSO is a self-governing organization paid for directly by its members and indirectly by the public.
LSO membership and LawPro costs are more than $5,000 per year, not counting HST. That can create a real disincentive for many sole practitioners, small firms, or those who many want to practice on a limited or pro bono basis as they near retirement. It’s also a disincentive for professors who may want to help with public interest litigation or pro bono activity.
The costs of becoming a lawyer are also growing at an unacceptable rate. Tuition has increased from about $5k in 1998 to a range of about $20K at Ottawa and Lakehead to more than $38k at U of T. There is a real danger that the profession will revert to the elite enclave it was prior to the 1970’s before the progress made by Harry Arthurs and others in opening up the profession. While the LSO may have little if any control over this issue, it certainly has the power of influence. Malcom Mercer has some good analysis on Slaw: http://www.slaw.ca/2019/02/26/the-cost-of-becoming-a-lawyer/.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I would try to help our profession strive to ensure more access to justice for all in order to uphold the rule of law. This will entail the best possible use of LSO resources, equitable access to the profession by those who wish to serve it and access to justice for the public who will be served, and the courage to focus priorities and resources where needed. The LSO must, when appropriate, speak truth to power through advocacy in the legislatures and the courts. It did so commendably in CCH v. LSUC – one of the most important decisions in Canadian copyright law. It has also litigated unwisely and ultimately unsuccessfully in its pursuit against Joe Groia. It has failed to show leadership in fighting for the rights of lawyers to protect the privileged and confidential documents that are vulnerable to viewing and even copying when leaving or returning to Canada with smart phones or laptops.
If the profession wishes to continue to be self-regulated (and who would wish otherwise in today’s political climate?), the profession needs to meet and exceed every reasonable expectation of transparency and efficiency and credibility on the part of the public. And it must pick and choose its priorities wisely in terms of programs, initiatives, litigation and advocacy at both the provincial and federal levels.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
The LSO’s East region sometimes seems to be far removed from Toronto, which still regards itself as the “centre of the universe” in too many ways. Certainly, it makes sense that the largest law firms in the province are concentrated in a few buildings on Bay Street. But the LSO must serve the needs of the profession and public throughout the province and work with the interests and concerns of other societies and the public throughout Canada.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
On the SOP issue, I have an open mind. We’ve all taken an oath to “champion the rule of law and safeguard the rights and freedoms of all persons.” We are all officers of the court. On the one hand, we all presumably embrace equity, equality, diversity and merit in the profession. On the other hand, do we need new procedures and long and difficult reports and potentially even audits and quotas, as some fear? Are individual members being subjected to coerced or compelled speech? It is important to be fully informed. Here are two very learned and contrasting academic analyses from Prof. (now Judge) Alice Woolley https://goo.gl/zxbuLd (2017) & Prof. Arthur Cockfield https://goo.gl/TocmGZ (2018).