There are a few classic rules of governments.
Voters hate tax increases. Cutting programs or employees is rarely popular.
And reform of governing bodies is a total nuisance, rarely engendering much broad-base public support but often ruffling feathers internally.
Few leaders are feted for trimming.
Therefore, one must admire current Law Society of Ontario Treasurer Paul Schabas for his work to kick-start a discussion about the size and composition of the board of the law society and how it functions.
The law society’s board is currently made up of 40 elected lawyer benchers, five elected paralegal benchers, eight appointed lay benchers and ex-officio benchers, which includes former treasurers and attorneys general.
The LSO’s Convocation can often have more than 60 benchers in attendance. Critics say this makes the board unwieldy and cumbersome.
This is an incredibly fair assessment.
Schabas is coming up on the end of his term in 2018, and he can be commended for some prudent steps when it comes to the law society’s long-term interests.
In September 2017, life benchers criticized their diminished role in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing committees.
Law Times reported that Schabas had decreased the size of the committees and prioritized elected benchers rather than life benchers. This, too, is a smart move.
Efforts to control the board’s size are laudable, in terms of promoting a board that is able to operate in a more efficient and effective manner.
Streamlining the board may not always be popular. However, it is not only a logical step but also one that reflects the very mandate of the law society and its obligation to regulate the profession in the public interest.