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Shrink Convocation

Editorial Obiter

It’s pretty clear that the governing body of the Law Society of Ontario must decrease in size.

According to a recent report, Convocation is “significantly larger than almost all boards” when compared with 33 other professional organizations from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The mere mention that there are currently about 100 members of the regulator’s governing body sounds ridiculous, especially when compared with other Canadian jurisdictions.

An effectiveness rating — calibrated from among the benchers themselves — is dismal.

As Law Times reports, the Law Society of British Columbia has 25 lawyer benchers who are elected and up to six non-lawyers appointed by the lieutenant governor. The Law Society of Alberta has 24 benchers and the Barreau Du Quebec has a 16-member board of directors.

“The inclusion on a board of ex officio and honorary directors, as is the case for the Law Society, is unusual,” says the report.

It also notes that the 12-year term limit for elected benchers “is longer than the term limits in any organization in the comparator group.” So, what’s next? Bencher Janet Leiper says the task force has not decided on what specific recommendations it will be bringing to Convocation yet but that the group is looking to shrink the size of the board.

Key findings suggest that shifts may affect the 36 ex-officio benchers that make up part of Convocation’s ranks and bencher term limits.

Governance reform may not be particularly glamourous, but it is important. Stay tuned.


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