September Convocation at Law Society of Upper Canada

A number of very interesting issues were addressed at this month’s LSUC convocation, including reports relating to articling and the Law Practice Program as well as the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group.

The following summary of agenda items is taken from LSUC’s webpage.

September 2016 Convocation

New task force to review governance structure
Convocation established a new task force, at the request of the Treasurer, to review and make recommendations in regard to the Law Society’s governance structure. The work of the Governance Task Force 2016 will support Convocation’s strategic priority to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Law Society’s governance methods. Full report.

 Mental Health Strategy Implementation Task Force established
Convocation appointed a new task force to monitor and provide guidance on the implementation of the Law Society’s mental health strategy. The strategy, which was approved by Convocation in April 2016, addresses mental health and addiction issues through both preventive and regulatory approaches. Full report.

Compensation Fund per-claimant limit increased to $500,000
To enhance the Law Society’s public protection measures, Convocation approved an increase in the lawyers’ Compensation Fund per-claimant limit to $500,000 from $150,000. The Compensation Fund helps those who have lost money because of a licensee’s dishonesty. The new limit applies to funds advanced to a lawyer on or after September 22, 2016. Full report.

LAWPRO base premium down $400 for 2017
Convocation approved LAWPRO’s report setting out the Law Society’s professional liability insurance program for 2017. The base premium for professional liability insurance coverage for Ontario lawyers will be $2,950 in 2017, down $400 from the 2016 premium. Full report.

Lawyers’ rules of conduct amended re: short-term pro bono services
The lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct respecting conflicts of interest relevant to short-term pro bono services were amended to expand their applicability to services provided under the auspices of a pro bono provider. Previously, the rules applied primarily to services provided through Pro Bono Ontario. The amended rules reflect changes made, in 2014, to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Conduct. Full report.

Paralegals’ conduct rules amended
Convocation amended the Paralegal Rules of Conduct to provide for a modified conflicts of interest standard for paralegals who provide pro-bono short term legal services under the auspices of Pro Bono Ontario or another pro bono provider. The rules were also amended to add ‘family status’ to rule 2.03(4), making it consistent with Rule 2.03(3). Full report.

Working group recommends strategies to end systemic racism in the legal professions
The Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group presented a report proposing 13 recommendations to address issues of systemic racism in the legal professions. The report is the culmination of thorough study and province-wide consultations, showing that racialized lawyers and paralegals face longstanding and significant challenges at all stages of their legal careers. The 13 recommendations fall within five areas of action: accelerating a culture shift, measuring progress, educating for change, implementing supports and the operations of the Law Society. Convocation will consider the report on December 2. Comments from the profession and public are welcome until November 14. More information.

PD&C Committee presents recommendations re: Pathways Pilot, LPP and Lawyer Licensing Process
The Professional Development & Competence Committee is recommending the Law Practice Program end following the completion of its third year (2016-17) and the enhanced articling program continue, with ongoing monitoring. The committee is also proposing a number of enhancements to the Lawyer Licensing Process. The committee presented its recommendations to Convocation following its mandated evaluation of the Pathways Pilot Project and its consideration of the licensing process in light of the Law Society’s strategic priority to strengthen licensing standards. The committee’s report to Convocation, which includes information on its analysis and recommendations, will be debated by Convocation on November 9. Written comments from the profession are welcome until October 19. More information.

Treasurer sets out direction and priorities for committees
To increase transparency regarding the policy development process, the Treasurer has provided to the chair and vice-chairs of Convocation’s standing committees, memoranda setting out his expectations for work to be undertaken during his term. The work includes priorities under the 2015-19 Strategic Plan and ongoing initiatives related to the committees’ mandates, as well as targets for completion of work. The memorandum are publicly available in the Treasurer’s Report to Convocation

Disclosure policy framework approved
Convocation approved a policy framework to clarify when information about complaints and investigations may be disclosed and to make clear the Law Society’s legal obligations to protect certain information from disclosure. Statutory amendments and operational changes may be required to fully implement the framework. Full report.

Human Rights Monitoring Group intervention approved
Intervention in the following case was approved by Convocation:

  • Yessika Hoyos and other members of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) — Colombia

Full report.

Audit & Finance Committee report
Convocation approved the Audit & Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding the Fund Balance Management Policy for the Lawyers Compensation Fund. Full report.

Bencher Ross Earnshaw was appointed as the Law Society’s representative on the Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Bencher Jack Braithwaite was re-appointed as the Law Society’s representative on the Canadian National Exhibition Association. Motion.”



New Scholarship: A2J and UPL

An article authored by Jennifer Bond, David Wiseman and Emily Bates titled “The Cost of Uncertainty: Navigating the Boundary between Legal Information and Legal Services in the Access to Justice Sector” is now available on SSRN.

Here is the link:

Here is the abstract:

The self-regulatory bodies that oversee legal professionals in Canada maintain strict control on the delivery of legal services, and access to justice projects must therefore always be conscious of activities that would violate certain restrictions. Careful adherence to these parameters is made difficult, however, by the lack of clarity about where the relevant boundaries are drawn. Using a project that provides legal assistance for refugees as a case study, this article highlights the challenges that the unclear distinction between “legal information” and “legal services” creates for access to justice initiatives. We conclude that the uncertainty can carry a variety of significant costs — including financial expense, human resource burdens, and unnecessary limits on program innovation — in a sector where affordable and creative solutions are desperately needed as a result of a persistent access to justice crisis. Ultimately, it is not merely the under-resourced access to justice sector that bears these costs, but rather disadvantaged individuals and society as a whole.

New Scholarship: ‘Gorilla exceptions’ and the ethically apathetic corporate lawyer

A new article on corporate finance lawyers by Steven Vaughan and Emma Oakley is now available here. See below for the abstract:

This paper draws on interviews with 57 corporate finance lawyers working from global law firms based in the City of London. Drawing on this data, we highlight common themes of taking deals at ‘face value’, being the lawyer-technician who uses the law to effect his client’s wishes, and not ‘pushing’ ethics. We suggest that there is an apathy – a lack of concern or interest – about ethics on the part of corporate lawyers. This apathy stems from various sources. It is linked to assumptions about the sorts of clients that large law firms are willing or not willing to act for, and assumptions about the ‘right sort of people’ the firm hires and retains; it is linked to strong notions of role morality; and it is founded on the classic legal ethics ‘standard conception’ principles of neutrality and non-accountability. Our data also highlights a lack of ethical infrastructures in large firms, and a lack of ethical leadership from law firm partners for the associates and trainees working for them.