Candidate bio description
I grew up in Waterloo, Ontario, and became the first person in my family to go to law school. Called to the bar in 1997, I spent the first five years of my career at a large, national law firm. In 2001, I left that safe harbour to start a small firm with a group of progressive and dedicated advocates - Paliare Roland. A significant part of my practice is representing regulators and professionals in the professional regulation context. I am recognized as a leading lawyer by several publications including LExpert, Best Lawyers, and Benchmark. From 2008-2014, I was a leader of the LSO's Justicia Project for the Retention of Women. I served as Chair of several of its working groups. For the last four years, I was a Director of The Advocates’ Society, where I served on the Diversity Task Force, as Chair of the Standing Committee on Advocacy and Practice, as Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, as Co-Chair of Fall Convention, and on the Nominating Committee. I have been a leader, teacher and mentor in my firm and the profession - contributing presentations and publications to the Law Society, the Advocates’ Society, CBA, OBA, and law schools. I speak often on professionalism, ethics, regulatory law, and women in the profession. I was also Chair of the Board and a director for over a decade at Homes First, an organization that provides supportive housing and shelter to the chronically homeless and people with complex mental health and addictions issues.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
It started with my work on the Law Society’s Justicia Project for the Retention of Women. I dug in, and took on a leadership role. That experience was a formative one and made me passionate about the role the Law Society can play to make a real difference in the way we practice law and protect the public. With the Advocates' Society, I had the opportunity to become engaged in the many challenges that confront our profession and the administration of justice, and to take steps to address those challenges. I believe I have more to contribute to the profession. I have the energy and enthusiasm needed to do so. My approach is one of principled, fair and cost-effective governance.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
There are many challenges, but I think the biggest is licensing. We need to do more to ensure not just competence on entry into the profession, but an even playing field – that means without market-driven barriers to entry. The two-stream system, and articling in particular, has become a barrier to qualified – and often racialized – licensees gaining entry. We need everybody to have equal access to uniform prerequisites for entry. At the moment, the LPP is a prohibitively expensive, and not a permanent, fix. Obviously this is an immensely complicated issue and Convocation has already spent time grappling with it, without coming to any consensus. But it is an important issue to young lawyers, and important in terms of equality and diversity, access to justice and the LSO’s core mandate of maintaining high standards of competence. It is an issue that I worked on with the Advocates’ Society, and one that still requires a resolution.
What would be your first priority upon election?
To protect and implement all of the recommendations in the Challenges Facing Racialized Licensees Report, and if it is at all possible, try to foster a more constructive discourse about the very real impacts of systemic racism.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
Working together with others in Convocation, I hope that we can achieve real progress on several issues, including competence (both on entry-to-practice and through accessible and affordable continuing education), governance reform, improved confidence of the public in the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals, better opportunities for feedback from the profession on important initiatives or changes to practice, access to justice initiatives including progress toward sustainable government-funded legal aid, preparing the profession for technological change, and more to address mental health and addiction issues, through both preventive and regulatory strategies.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
As set out above.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?