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Teresa Donnelly

Southwest Electoral Region (SW)
Teresa Donnelly

Candidate bio description

As the West Region Sexual Violence Crown, Sexual Violence Advisory Group, Ministry of the Attorney, I am one of seven full-time prosecutors in the province dedicated to enhancing the quality of sexual violence prosecutions to ensure they are prosecuted fairly, effectively and respectfully. As a Prosecutor, I have dedicated my career to providing access to justice for victims of domestic and sexual violence – the majority of whom are women and children. While I am a government lawyer, I practice in Goderich, Huron County - a small town on Lake Huron. I understand the challenges facing sole and small firms and rural practitioners. I am a proud member of a legal family and a third-generation lawyer. While my immediate family includes many lawyers (my grandfather, father, uncle, four brothers, two brothers-in-law and my nephew whose experiences include a variety of: settings – small towns and big cities; practice areas - criminal, insurance, banking, mining, energy, civil litigation, real estate, wills; and practice sizes and types - two lawyer firm, large firms, in-house, non-practicing corporate), I am the first female lawyer in my immediate family and the first female Crown Attorney in Huron County.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

I am seeking re-election as I feel that I have unfinished work to do. Over the past 4 years, we have worked hard to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession through the comprehensive recommendations in the Challenges Report; to facilitate access to justice including through the report on Legal Aid; and in reviewing and implementing improvements to the licensing process and enhancing competence. We have much work to do on these and other issues. As Chair of Audit and Finance, I seek to continue to enhance transparency, accountability and efficiencies at the Law Society. As Co-Chair on Entity Regulation I seek to continue to move forward in this area - many decisions which were once made by an individual licensee are now being made by a firm yet the LSO has limited ability to regulate firms. Entity Regulation looks to better protect the public and to enhance regulatory efficiency. As the Chair of the Human Rights Monitoring Group, I also seek to continue to work to advocate in support of the human rights our international colleagues who practice law or are members of the judiciary.

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

I don't see one issue. If we focus on one issue, we risk losing sight of other significant issues in the profession. We need to continue the important work of the Technology Task Force; to continue to support sole and small practitioners; to continue our work on equality, diversity, and inclusion; to maintain public trust in our profession by regulating in the public interest; to achieve effective oversight through our governance structure; to enhance competence; to reduce barriers to the profession; and to facilitate access to justice including through collaboration with stakeholders.

What would be your first priority upon election?

To provide support to newly elected Benchers so that they are informed on the issues and are ready to participate in the strategic planning process that will commence for them immediately following election. The strategic planning process is very important as it will set priorities and guide the Law Society's work over the next four years.

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

To continue the work underway at the Law Society as set out above. I would like to see the Retention of Women in Private Practice Working Group (2008) reconstituted as well as a review of the Justicia Project.

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

That the Law Society understand the realities facing lawyers who practice outside of Toronto. Lawyers who practice outside of Toronto have different access to resources, supports and opportunities. Local law associations are very important because they provide resources, mentoring, support and opportunities to come together to learn, to share and support each other through challenging times. They form a network which reduces isolation, enhances competence and enables lawyers to practice in urban and rural areas thereby enhancing access to justice. We need to support all lawyers but especially sole and small practitioners and rural practitioners.

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

Yes.

Poll Question


The Law Society of Ontario is in the midst of a major overhaul of the role of paralegals in family law — and a proposal on the issue could become an imminent issue for the regulator’s newly elected benchers. Do you agree with widening the scope of family law matters that paralegals can address?