Candidate bio description
I have practiced civil litigation from my small firm based in Barrie and Midland for almost 25 years. I’ve litigated cases at every level of the courts including the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada and various tribunals. I am past president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association; member of the OBA, Advocates Society, and Simcoe County Law Association. I regularly speak at legal conferences. I have served my community having held positions as Rotary Club President, local Hospital Board President, member of Midland Police Service Board, and working on various charity drives. I currently chair the Simcoe County “Helmets on Kids” program.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I am running for Bencher because I am concerned about the future of the profession, the preservation of the independent practitioner, and finding ways to ensure lawyers can continue to provide outstanding service in an age of disruption. There are particularly challenging times for the profession, and I worry that systemic challenges that threatened the profession are not being addressed at a macro level. I want to make a contribution.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
What would be your first priority upon election?
I would make sure that I focused on the primary focus of the LSO. The Law Society Act directs that the Society’s primary function is to ensure that all persons who provide legal services in Ontario meet standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct. I believe that the LSO should govern and conduct itself in accordance with its legislative mandate. With a budget of $142M and over 600 employees, I am concerned that the LSO has lost focus on its core function. A strong, healthy legal bar is in the public interest, and that needs to be the focus of the LSO.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
The LSO should engage government and law schools to examine whether rapid increases in law school tuition and the number of new lawyers may hinder access to justice and diversity in the profession. Law should not be a profession only for the affluent. We need to foster lawyers seeking to embark on careers providing access to justice to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Rather than embark on divisive policies pursuant to which the LSO seeks to force licensees to provide lip-service approval to diversity values, the LSO should actively promote rigid adherence to the Rules of Professional Conduct. LSO has the right and the duty to require that lawyers agree to follow the law, but not the right to require that lawyers agree with beliefs. I also believe that access to justice would be enhanced by shorter trials. I believe that the LSO should work with government and the Courts to facilitate Court reform to reduce the length of Ontario trials which are significantly longer than trials in other jurisdictions.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Although I am opposed to the present iteration of the SOP, I cannot agree with the single-issue approach of the STOP SOP bloc. While I sympathize with their concerns, I believe in dialogue, constructive solutions and compromise as a means to effect positive change. I also believe in inclusivity and enhancing the diversity of our bar. My concerns about the SOP relate to the potential it has to infringe upon the rights of free speech, thought and conscience of lawyers throughout Ontario. I am running for Bencher because I want to make our profession better on many levels; not just to undo a single policy choice of the last Bench.