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John Callaghan

City of Toronto Electoral Region
John Callaghan

Candidate bio description

I was called to the Bar in 1989. I was a Fox Scholar and spent a year in England. I returned to Toronto and have practiced commercial and civil litigation since that time with Smith Lyons and Gowling WLG. I co-author a leading text on Class Actions. I am recognized as a leading lawyer by several publications including L'Expert, Chambers and Benchmark. Over the years, I have been extensively involved in civil justice in Ontario. As a member of the Civil Rules Committee since 1994, I have been involved in most of the major civil justice initiatives in Ontario, taught trial advocacy at U of T for a number of years. I continue to coordinate the Callaghan Moot for the law students. I was a Director of The Advocates Society. I was elected as a Bencher of the Law Society in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. I am the current Chair of the Government Relations Committee. I was previously co-chair of that Committee and was previously Vice-Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. I Chaired the Legal Aid Working Group which examined the Law Society's role in legal aid. Our report, "An Abiding Interest", reaffirmed the Law Society's commitment to champion legal aid. I am on the board of the ASLA that represents the service providers of legal aid.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

I have spent much of my time at the Law Society as Chair of Government Relations. In that role, I have represented the professions' views both at Queens Park and Parliament Hill. We have had some success including: • We persuaded the last provincial government to provide an additional $100 million for Legal Aid Funding, • We advocated in Ottawa for and obtained interim funding to cover the increased number of refugee hearings, • We pushed back on the insurance industry’s attempt to limit the use of contingency fees, and • We successfully advocated both at Queen's Park and Parliament Hill for the expansion of the Unified Family Court. However, more work needs to be done and gains achieved need to be maintained and improved upon. This is particularly so in these uncertain economic times. I believe that with the experience and the successes to date we can make further gains in the years to come.

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

We have several big challenges. Access to justice is a significant challenge. The extent of the challenge requires more assistance from government. It also require a resolute voice from the Law Society. Having spent much of my career addressing these issues, it is clear that we need to continue to champion legal aid and other access to justice programs. We still need to more work to ensure our profession is accessible to all. The diversity of our profession is one of our strengths but we need to continue to ensure that all our members have the opportunity to succeed. We need to address technology in our profession and the disruption it has and will cause in the years to come. We need to address the cost of becoming a lawyer. The road to becoming a lawyer is long and expensive. Our profession must be open and accessible to to truly be an open profession which all Ontarions. For more see

What would be your first priority upon election?

The first priority is to ensure that cut backs do not adversely affect the justice sector and to be vigilant in ensuring that all stakeholders are heard on their desire to promote access to justice.

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

By the end of the term, I hope that we have: • improved access to justice by, in part, obtaining government support for an appropriate level of sustainable legal aid, • improved the profession for all of our members by applying the 5 principles approved by Convocation, • have a blue print to address technology, • reviewed the progress regarding the retention of women and challenges faced by soles/smalls to ensure we have a healthy profession, • ensured our mental health strategy is meeting the needs of the profession, • developed a strategy that addresses the concern about the costs and length of time it takes to become a lawyer, • addressed our core functions of competency and discipline to ensure we are meeting or exceeding the public's expectation

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

All of the above.

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


Poll Question

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