Candidate bio description
I was called to the bar in 2005 and practiced exclusively in criminal and constitutional law since. Over the years, I have played an active role in the bar including sitting as a past Director to the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and a recent appointment to the Board of Directors for Legal Aid Ontario. Professional memberships include: The Advocate’s Society, The Canadian Bar Association, The Toronto Lawyers’ Association, The York Region Law Association and the Criminal Lawyers Association. In 2001, I graduated with my undergraduate degree from Queen’s University, followed by my law degree also at Queen’s in 2004. In 2013, I obtained my LL.M. from Osgoode Hall. I have held a Certified Specialist status in criminal law since 2013. Since 2010, I have operated under my own banner of Robichaud’s. While starting as a sole-practitioner, the firm has now grown to five remarkable associates, students, and staff. Every day, I am grateful for their insights on the profession, its future, and their passion towards criminal law. My pursuit in law was not pre-destined nor easy. I came from a working class family and the first of my extended family to go to university. Like many of you, I had to pay my way through school at my own expense while graduating with massive amounts of debt from tuition. I understand first-hand the crippling effect fees and tuition has on recent calls. In 2010, I founded King Law Chambers. Once a chambers of no more than five members, King Law Chambers has grown to over 75 lawyers practicing in a wide range of practice areas located in downtown Toronto. It has blessed me with invaluable insight on the challenges senior and recent calls face when operating their own practice outside of big law firms. On a daily basis, I see the effect overregulation and ever-increasing costs have upon sole practitioners and small to mid size firms. Outside of law, I am a proud father of 8 year old twin boys who are the world to me and my amazing wife. Despite the additional responsibilities and challenges my boys bring me, they make me work harder to leave the world, and the justice system, a better place for them in their lives. When I am not practicing law and running my businesses, I take considerable enjoyment in snowboarding, motorcycling, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
As a small business owner, a relatively recent call (2005) and someone who graduated with significant debt load, I understand the struggle that many lawyers face in 2019 - particularly financial challenges and burdens of over-regulation. I want to change that for you and those lawyers that follow us. I want to change it for the benefit of the people we help as lawyers.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Like many of you, I would like to see a less expensive Law Society of Ontario. One that is less intrusive of lawyers practice and businesses but willing to prosecute harshly those that undermine us as a whole through criminal or dishonest acts. One that understands the present course we are on is not sustainable or desirable as lawyers. Overbearing regulations, unconscionable licensing fees, and crippling tuition is not in society’s interest any more than it is in ours. It’s up to us as a profession to change it, and change it we must.
What would be your first priority upon election?
The reduction of excessive fees, charges, and costs of practicing law in Ontario. The other major priority (which is released) is addressing the under-representation of recent calls in Convocation by adding a special class of Recent-call benchers (2 for each region, under 5 years of call).
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
+ Reduce licensing fees with active measures towards auditing wasteful spending; + Educate the public on the importance of lawyers and the role we play in society; + Advance previous efforts towards a “Recent Call” sub-category of Bencher (under 5 years, two per region); + Advocate for the reduction of law school tuition by working with institutions, governments, and the private sector; + Reduce excessive regulatory and business practice intrusions of the Law Society into lawyers and firms; + Increase the prosecutions and sanctions for lawyers who undermine us as a group through dishonesty and who commit criminal acts; + Advance access to justice through governmental collaboration and advanced coordination with lawyers offering their services; + Advance all measures to modernize our courts and delivery of justice in the province; + Recognize the need for adaptation in business practice, marketing, and financial structuring of law firms; + Modernize and recalibrate the licensing and mentorship of lawyers in the province; and, Increase measures to ensure lawyers meet minimum standards and competence in specialized areas of law.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Toronto must come to terms with the archaic manner Courts are run and how justice is delivered in the province. No matter how efficient one runs their own business in law, it is met by a hard-stop of inefficiency when it comes to Court. Ontarians all deserve a more efficient system to deliver justice in this province and it starts by insisting the government and courts work with the LSO to ensure we can all work at our maximum potential. This would include technological advancements, digitization, and recalibration of business practices and reducing excess regulations and costs by the LSO.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
The Statement of Principles was well-intentioned but a major failure in implementation and detracted from efforts towards necessary changes in the profession towards inclusion, diversity, and awareness of equity issues. As one might infer from my various policies above on fee-reduction and removal of excessive barriers to practice, my approach is one more aligned with less intrusion into lawyers' lives along with an inherent trust in lawyers to act ethically without LSO intervention. My position is as follows: while I fully support mandatory EDI, I do not support imposing forced values on lawyers or the precedent it sets - even if most consider contrarian values offensive. It is up to us as lawyers to persuade our colleagues in the value of diversity, equality, inclusion and the many benefits it brings; however, it is not our role to force others to pay lip service to it by empty, pre-approved rote phrases. To do otherwise has a counter-productive and divisive effect that we saw clearly over the unnecessary controversy that arose as a result. If the issue is raised again, subject to careful consideration of all debate and study, I would likely vote to remove the mandatory SOP while preserving the mandatory EDI training. However, this is not a priority issue to me so I do not intend to be that person to bring it up or advocate for it when there are more pressing issues at hand that I have already committed to.