Candidate bio description
I am a criminal defence lawyer and standing agent for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. I am a lifelong Peterborough resident and engaged in the profession through the Federation of Ontario Law Associations. In my role as Central East representative to FOLA, I am engaged with each local law association in the region and regularly attend each to engage lawyers and ensure the voice of the practicing bar is heard at the Law Society and beyond. I chair the Practice Resource Committee of FOLA which represents the libraries in each courthouse outside Toronto. I am a member of the Criminal Lawyers' Association and The Advocates' Society. I am active locally with the Peterborough Family Health Team, Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the Royal Canadian Legion. I continue to play rugby and support the game as a director for Rugby Ontario. Lawyers are important to our community both in practice and outside. I strive to show this. I understand the need for hard work to make lawyers' lives easier and am committed to putting that work in. Good ideas only succeed when the work is put in to see them through.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
The need for lawyers to take a leadership role to make our regulator more responsive to the needs of the practicing bar. I am committed to putting in the time to make lawyers' lives better. I intend to be available in the community. I attend functions through my work with FOLA at every Law Association in Central East and commit to continuing this as a bencher so that I am available and reachable as issues arise.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Overregulation. Ensuring that lawyers provide professional and competent representation is the key mandate of the LSO. Rather than starting initiative after initiative, we need to ensure that the right complaints are being dealt with in the right way. More layers of control are not what is needed but instead a full review to ensure responses proportional to the issues being raised. Lawyers are needlessly stressed by the process that should be able to deal with many issues without requiring the time and energy of the individual lawyer.
What would be your first priority upon election?
Working with the practicing bar, engaging groups like local law associations, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, The Advocates' Society and others to make sure that the Law Society is reflective of and responsive to practicing lawyers. Determining what programs and initiatives are actually helping and eliminating requirements of lawyers which are not helping will be key.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
1) Ensure that the proposed "special credential" in family law is reviewed and reoriented from its current trajectory. Revisit appropriate paralegal education being linked to their scope. 2) Encourage finality to the articling debate which seems to constantly be revisited. 3) Reorient LSO advertising from "Our Society is Your Society" to something that actually lauds the great work lawyers do like regulators of other professions have done 4) Work to provide opportunities that promote diversity and inclusiveness. 5) Reform the complaints process in a way that protects the public but lessens the stresses and inconveniences associated with unfounded complaints. 6) Provide support to practicing lawyers to achieve positive results in the above issues.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Engagement. Real work to reach out to the bar on issues is needed. The majority of the bar is not engaged in issues that affects it. Engagement cannot be done in the traditional sense. It is not working. Benchers need to be visible and present to hear the criticism of their actions and work to do better. Engagement of groups to promote equity and diversity needs to be done not simply in statements of principles but through real action. Reviewing the parental leave program, creating opportunities for all peoples who seek a job and determining where assets inside LSO can be reallocated to create a real good and not empty bureaucracy needs to be undertaken.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Yes, I support a statement of principles. However, on its own it is not very effective. The Law Society needs to be involved in creating opportunities for lawyers to better engage other lawyers with diverse backgrounds to provide the best service to our clients. We all do better with a more inclusive and diverse bar. The LSO can show this through leadership. I want to move beyond the debate over this and see real work done to promote diversity, by supporting groups like RODA, by engaging youth to cultivate an interest in law, and by engaging supports and mentorships to highlight champions of diversity in practice.
Editor's note: Candidate profile updated March 5, 2019 at 3:25 p.m. to reflect change candidate requested to add information to answer on Statement of Principles.