As a self-described “type A personality,” Janet Minor says there were big accomplishments during her term as Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer — but also a number of initiatives that she would have liked to see finalized. Goals achieved?
She lauded the law society’s work to “open up” and engage more with the public during her term. Minor says she has worked to limit the number of in-camera items in the LSUC’s Convocation meetings.
A large part of the engagement initiatives she pursued during her time as treasurer involved speaking with aboriginal communities and their leaders in various parts of Ontario.
Goals yet to be realized?
A racialized licensee working group, which was created as part of the LSUC’s commitment to ensure more diversity in the profession, was one such initiative that she particularly wanted to see finalized.
“There is always challenges that don’t entirely work out the way one might have wanted or in terms of speed. That’s just part of the political process,” she says. “I’m sad to leave some of that as I would like to still be a part of things, but it’s also kind and fair for someone else to contribute new blood, new thoughts.”
In terms of racialized licensees, the LSUC first initiated the working group in 2012 to determine issues faced by racialized licensees and to figure out how to tackle those issues. The group released a report in 2015 saying the law society could be part of a turning point to advance more diversity in the profession and the working group was expected to provide a course of action in a final report that fall.
Lai-King Hum, the chairwoman of the Roundtable of Diversity Associations, lauded Minor’s work on diversity, but she says she wishes the working group had reached its conclusions sooner.
“There has been delay. I think we’d like to see things happen just a little bit more quickly,” she says. “I understand there are processes in place and that benchers have to debate and it has to go through convocation.”
Hum does not blame Minor for the delays and says it is just the product of a slow process.
“I’m not saying it’s a regret, I’m just saying I’m looking forward to it coming forward when it’s ready,” Minor says of the working group’s final report.
As the last few weeks of her term wound down, Minor also looked back at regulatory initiatives that have been initiated under her watch.
The LSUC has launched a review of how the law society should regulate how lawyers and paralegals advertise.
“They’re not going to have a report by the time I finish, but it’s started and I’m very confident it’s taking a very good look at that and will come forward with some helpful recommendations to Convocation,” Minor says.
Steve Rastin, a past president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and a personal injury lawyer, says he hopes the law society will adopt an aggressive proactive approach to regulating advertising in the near future.
“We commend Janet for starting the process, but we would like to see some tangible results,” he says.
The law society has also taken steps to figure out how it can regulate entities proactively under Minor’s watch.
Convocation recently approved a recommendation to ask the provincial government to give the law society the authority to regulate entities.
The commission working to flesh out the details of the regulations that will guide entity regulation is in the next phase of a consultation process to figure out how the compliance-based system will work.
In terms of her work with aboriginal issues, Minor visited a number of First Nations communities over her two years to learn more about how they may be struggling with access to justice issues.
For the first time in 200 years, the aboriginal political leadership was invited to Osgoode Hall to meet with the law society, Minor says.
Another initiative that Minor trumpets is a mental health initiative that the LSUC started in 2015 to help licensees struggling with mental illness.
Convocation will elect the next treasurer at its June meeting. Benchers Raj Anand, Howard Goldblatt, Susan McGrath, and Paul Schabas have been nominated to replace Minor.
“I don’t want to do a full stop. So I’m still interested in being involved in some area of the justice system,” she says.