Candidate bio description
I am pleased to put my name forward as a candidate for Bencher. I have been a member of Devry Smith Frank LLP for the past 7 years, prior to which I was a sole practitioner for 24 years. My practice areas are real estate, estate planning and estate administration. Early in my career I was privileged to have several kind and helpful mentors from whose advice and wisdom I benefitted greatly. I have followed their example, and it has been my great pleasure to serve as a mentor for many law students and young lawyers. This has been a truly rewarding experience. This is the first time that I have run for Bencher. At this stage of my career, I see this as an opportunity to give back to our profession and to invest in the next generation of legal professionals.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
Solicitors are a small minority in the current Convocation. Solicitors need more representation in the body where important decisions are made which impact their practices.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Access to justice - effective governance of the legal profession in the public interest requires ensuring that everyone has access to competent and effective legal advice and representation. Lawyers in sole practice and small firms are most often the first point of contact for people requiring the services of a lawyer. Convocation must continue to invest in tools and mentoring programs for these lawyers, and must be a leader in the innovation which will permit the next generation of lawyers to meet the needs of public.
What would be your first priority upon election?
To get to know my fellow Benchers and build positive working relationships with them.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
The Law Society’s mandate is described on the LSO web site as follows: “The Law Society of Ontario governs Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct. The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.” This is our job description, and I want to focus my efforts toward achieving measurable progress in these areas. First, our responsibility for licencing obligates us to ensure that lawyers are properly trained. We must constantly revisit the articling, LPP, Bar Admission and CLE programs in order to ensure that we are equipping lawyers to fulfill this mandate. The public is entitled to competent legal representation. We are obliged to equip Ontario lawyers to provide it. In addition, there is a need for a formal mentoring program. I believe that in the current climate it is imperative that young lawyers have a formal system of access to more experienced members of the profession. Second, we must make significant progress on access to justice. It is imperative that we work with all the stakeholders both inside and outside our profession to find creative long-term solutions.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
I will answer this question from the perspective of a solicitor. The real estate market in the GTA has been very active for many years. The majority of solicitors practicing residential real estate practice are sole practitioners or members of small firms There are unique issues facing real estate practitioners. There is an urgent need for consultation with the various stakeholders in the real estate industry regarding the obligations which they continue to place on the real estate bar. These include government, financial institutions, mortgage brokers and realtors. . Convocation does not have authority over these bodies, but does have significant persuasive power to influence their decisions and policies. There is a need for Benchers who understand the pressures and challenges of these practices and the responsibilities of operating what is in fact a small business. The Society must be prepared to continue to invest in tools, programs and incentives for sole practitioners and lawyers in small firms, and minimize unnecessary regulation.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
I have painfully concluded that I cannot support the Statement of Principles as presented by the Society. It is far too vague, and the terms are not sufficiently defined. Many members worry that it amounts to “compelled speech.” This initiative has caused a rift in our profession, and the threat of “progressive compliance” suggests the very coercion that these members fear. We must work together strategically and with resolve in order to have a truly diverse and inclusive profession. However, we must also bear in mind that a body which does not permit differences of opinion and perspective is not truly diverse and inclusive. Education and broad consultation with the profession will do more to achieve diversity and inclusion than requiring lawyers to check a box.