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Mitchell Kowalski

City of Toronto Electoral Region
Mitchell Kowalski

Candidate bio description

* ICD.D designation and training in corporate governance
* Board experience on major crown corporation boards
* real estate solicitor
* experience as sole practitioner, in-house counsel, and large firm lawyer
* Gowling WLG Visiting Professor in Legal Innovation at University of Calgary Law School
* Author of two books on legal innovation
* Legal innovation consultant and speaker.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

Frustration over:
1. Convocation's continued poor decision-making (which is based more on emotion than on data and logic);
2. Convocation's inability to adhere to good governance practice; and
3. Convocation's lack of fiscal responsibility.

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

Convocation is a board of directors, not a lawyer parliament. Ontarians need a forward-thinking regulator that will guide and regulate legal service providers in a way that is both innovative and in the public interest. To date, the LSO has failed to understand that it's no longer 1985.

What would be your first priority upon election?

First priority is to deal with the following low-hanging fruit: A. In order to increase participation in the 2023 Bencher Election, provide a $50.00 discount on annual fees in each of the years 2024 through 2027, for all members who vote in the 2023 Bencher Election; B. Implement an election spending “cap” of $1,000.00 from all sources per candidate, to permit a more diverse group of candidates to have a meaningful chance to being elected without worrying that another candidate will outspend them; C. Ban the practice of “slates” and “endorsements” of candidates. This practice makes Convocation highly politicized. Convocation is not a parliament and should never be politicized; D. An immediate freeze on member fees until 2023 to force the LSO to live within its means; and E. Direct staff to implement “value for money” audits on all LSO programs. Programs which do not provide value of money and which do not have clear, measurable definitions of success are to be cancelled. For too long the LSO has seen the membership as an eternal magic money tree – that must stop.

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

1. Put the public first.
2. Reform LSO operations to be more efficient and cost-effective.
3. Reform governance to improve decision-making.
4. Encourage innovation and provide guidance on innovation.
5. Allow for increased competition.

What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Convocation is a board of directors, not a lawyer parliament. As such, Benchers are not to be advocates for lawyers in any particular region of the province. The LSO should regulate in a way that is in the public interest and that does not unnecessarily burden legal service providers.

Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
The SOP was a tactical error by Convocation. I would have started with a much more robust version of Recommendations 3 and 6 of the LSO racialized challenges report akin to the report prepared by Elevate Services which is found on my facebook page. This annual report would be mandatory for firms of 10 or more lawyers – and made available to the public. Incentives can be created for reaching certain targets. If the LSO is serious about this issue, and if it wants to do more than just virtue signal, it needs to come up with serious, actionable and measurable solutions. That’s what regulators are supposed to do. Only once we see success, however we define it, which is based on data, can we move toward deciding on the efficacy of an SOP. If Convocation is honest with itself, requiring every lawyer to prepare a secret SOP doesn’t solve any problem. I prefer to focus on real solutions. Change management is a long-term game. It’s most successful when done by way of incentives, rather than force.

Poll Question

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