Candidate bio description
Three years ago, along with my two law partners, I founded Spark LLP, a four-lawyer full-service firm. This daunting and eye-opening experience has given me a close-up view of the issues and daily worries faced by sole and small practice lawyers across the Province. Prior to that, I practiced class action and commercial litigation for 13 years with what is now Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP. I was first elected as a bencher in 2011. I am the current Chair of the Technology Task Force, Proceedings Authorization Committee, and Professional Regulation Committee, and a current Vice-Chair of the Professional Development & Competence Committee. Over the last 8 years, I have also served as Chair of the Litigation Committee and as Co-Chair of the Mentoring Task Force. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of Library Co. Inc., a non-profit corporation created to manage the Ontario County and District Law Library system, and a past director of the Ontario Judicial Education Network, an organization dedicated to fostering public understanding of the judicial system.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
Mid-way through my current term as bencher, I left a very comfortable position at a law firm to start a small firm. Before experiencing them first-hand, I had little knowledge of the challenges and concerns of sole and small firm lawyers. Having now lived through the daunting experience of starting a firm from scratch, I am intimately familiar with the daily issues – both good and bad – faced by sole practitioners and small firm lawyers across the Province. I will continue to bring the perspective of sole and small firm lawyers to Convocation to better help the LSO make decisions that are in the public interest.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
The biggest issue facing the legal profession today is the changing nature of the practice of law and the struggles that some lawyers have keeping up with those changes. These struggles can result in emotional and financial hardship which, in turn, can result in licensees making bad decisions and getting into trouble. The LSO should continue to provide and improve upon support and resources, such as the Member Assistance Program and the Practice Advisory, to ensure that licensees facing difficult struggles do not present a risk to the public interest or to themselves. Ensuring that licensees are competent in all areas—substantive, practice management, technology, and well being—and have the resources to maintain that competence should remain a key focus for the LSO.
What would be your first priority upon election?
I would like to focus on my work as Chair of the Technology Task Force. The increasing prevalence of legal technology and tools, as well as the rise of artificial intelligence in legal applications, is both a concern and an opportunity for the LSO and its licensees. Embracing technological tools that complete routine and repetitive tasks will provide licensees more time to concentrate on giving clients the benefit of their experience, judgment, and legal advice. I aim to continue my work with the Technology Task Force in assessing the implications of technological tools and promoting education licensees about the use of legal technology in their practices.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
Over the next four years, I will work to lay the groundwork for future bencher elections to ensure that Convocation reflects the diversity of the legal profession and the public more accurately. I was disappointed to see that only 28% of candidates in 2019 are women while women make up nearly 50% of the profession, over 50% of new calls and 50% of the population. Complex issues can only be properly addressed when those considering them bring to the table a diversity of views, perspectives, and backgrounds. To ensure this kind of diversity, Convocation should consider appointing non-benchers to committees and task forces to ensure that the right interests and views are taken into account at the policy making stage.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
The most pressing concern for some lawyers in the Southwest region is ensuring appropriate and stable funding for local law libraries, while new calls are concerned about establishing themselves professionally while managing high law school debt. These concerns reinforce the need for the Law Society to protect the public interest by ensuring that all licensees have access to the same supports and resources to ensure competent delivery of legal services.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?