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William McDowell

City of Toronto Electoral Region
William McDowell

Candidate bio description

Partner Lenczner Slaght LLP. Bencher since 2011. I have served as Chair of a number of important committees, including Professional Regulation and Government Relations. I also served as Chair of the LSO Mental Health Task Force and as a member of the Racialized Licensees Working Group.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

Convocation requires both experienced leadership and renewal. There are a number of highly qualified new candidates running this year, but I believe that my candidacy provides some stability for the Law Society.

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

It is hard to pick one. The most urgent problem is ensuring that Legal Aid funding for criminal cases remains available and at an appropriate level. But there are a number of others--access to justice in all areas is diminishing; we must continue to do more to ensure that our licensing process creates a level playing field; technology including AI will change the practice of law dramatically over the next ten years.

What would be your first priority upon election?

We will have to confront the Legal Aid and funding for Pro Bono Law Ontario issues as immediate priorities.

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

We need to strive for diversity and inclusion in the profession and to achieve more success than we have in the past. This will mean taking further measures to ensure that recruiting processes for legal organizations are fundamentally fair and results are transparent. We also have to continue to adapting our discipline processes to accommodate licensees suffering from mental illnesses. The Law Society also has to come to terms with the extent of its regulatory reach over legal services provided online.

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

Criminal Legal Aid funding and access to justice.

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

Yes. Barriers to entry for racialized lawyers is an acute and urgent problem for our profession. For me the problem is simply stated: when I sit on the Roy Thomson stage at the Call to the Bar ceremony, the parade of new lawyers bears little resemblance to the lawyer population I meet in law firms in the downtown core. Toronto law firms have to look more like Toronto.

Poll Question

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