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Paul M. Cooper

Central East Electoral Region (CE)
Paul M. Cooper

Candidate bio description

I am a small firm practitioner living in York Region with my office in Vaughan. Throughout my career I have held a unique connection to the courts and legal community in the Central East Region. I understand what it means to be a lawyer practicing outside Toronto. My practice as a trial lawyer has provided me with the opportunity to appear throughout the province on very serious and some high profile cases, and have developed a strong and direct manner of communication. I have been honoured to serve as Bencher from Outside Toronto and I am committed to continue to serve as a strong voice at Convocation for the entire profession. Je m’engage a bien représenter tous les membres de la profession.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

I believe that over the last four years, we have made great progress and historic change at the Law Society of Ontario. I have been fortunate enough to serve as a progressive voice at Convocation, and I have been honoured to be a part of that change. As much as we have improved, there is still a lot of work to be done. I want to continue to be a part of that positive change and assist in the continuing development of an inclusive, diverse, and positive community of lawyers.

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

1. Inclusion - We must deliver on long term strategies that eliminate inequitable outcomes. It is my position that we need to go further: that every licensee should have a copy of the Statement of Principles posted in their reception area, so that beyond being a part of our role as lawyers and leaders in community, the public and the clients that we serve have confidence that our offices are a safe place in their quest to obtain access to justice.
2. Innovation - The Law Society must take the lead to ensure that its membership understands and embraces new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. As a profession, we must understand new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and embrace and leverage them in order to become better service providers for our clients. In terms of the regulation of new technologies, we must ensure that we understand that there will be a need to regulate some of these new technologies, to ensure that we adequately protect and serve the public. In addition, we must ensure that new technologies are accessible across our membership, including to small firm practitioners. We must provide resources and advocate to make these new technologies accessible.
3. Inspiration - The Law Society must support the membership through education and mentorship whether you are a new call seeking to start your own law firm or you are a small firm practitioner looking to wind down your practice. It is my belief that in achieving this goal, a stronger Bar will follow. It is only through a strong Bar that the public interest is properly served.

What would be your first priority upon election?

My first priority is to work out a four-year policy plan, together with all other Benchers, which would include all of the goals outlined below.

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

I have a number of priorities for the next four years. First, I will fight to continue the progress we have made on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Second, I want to increase our standard insurance coverage from $1M to $5M, and do so in a manner that does not result in any increased costs to our membership. Third, I want the Law Society to embrace new technologies; when necessary, regulate them; and provide resources so that new technologies are accessible to our entire membership. I believe that the use of new technologies has the potential to make us better service providers for our clients, and increase our value-add as lawyers. Fourth, I want to continue discussion regarding governance reform, to ensure that we are an efficient, independent, and self-regulated body. At the same time, the Law Society must ensure that any future changes are in line with and reflect the diversity of our profession and community. The Law Society must ensure that Convocation is large enough to truly reflect the diversity of the legal profession, the diversity of our community, and the diversity of the public. Fifth, I will continue to work on and improve the competency of all members of the Bar through education programs and resources. Among other things, the Law Society has a host of archived materials that should be made more easily available and accessible for free. In addition, it is my position that the education component of the LPP should be expanded to all new licensees. Lastly, with the Law Society back in the access to justice space - it is my position that we need to be an advocate and a leader in bringing together Legal Aid Ontario and other gatekeepers. Specifically with respect to Legal Aid, I have the following four objectives going forward:
(1) bring LAO to the table to negotiate;
(2) promote the control over who is selected to act as Law Society’s Director of Legal Aid and provide them with our mandate together with a requirement that they report back to Committee so that we can measure their performance;
(3) require Law Foundation appointees to engage in discussions with LAO to promote efficiencies within their organization and to remind them that the most successful form of service delivery is through the lawyer-of-choice certificate model; and
(4) encourage the high degree of quality of service provided by duty counsel.

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

It is the support of small firm and sole practitioners. It is about protecting them as well as protecting our legal communities that are centred around the court libraries and law associations. We have an obligation at the Law Society to ensure that the court libraries and law associations are properly funded. We must work with FOLA to ensure that their concerns are heard and addressed.

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

I support the requirement to abide by the statement of principles. It is my position that we need to go further: that every licensee should have a copy of the Statement of Principles posted in their reception area, so that it is not only that other members of the profession feel comfortable and safe, but also clients and the public who we are to serve.

Poll Question

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