Addressing disconnect

With the clock ticking down before the April 30 election for benchers for the Law Society of Ontario’s next Convocation, Law Times has been looking hard at different issues facing the profession.

With the clock ticking down before the April 30 election for benchers for the Law Society of Ontario’s next Convocation, Law Times has been looking hard at different issues facing the profession. 

In the lead-up to the election, we asked readers to flag different issues of concern to us via social media, through the hashtag #BencherElection2019. Looking at a series of posts by Cornwall lawyer Michele Allinotte, we saw a lawyer who was very open about some of the challenges faced by sole practitioners. Her remarks were echoed by many others I have encountered — either those I have met in person or those whose experiences are explored in coverage by this newspaper — that the realities of practising law in a large firm context is worlds away from those who are practising on their own or in small firms.

“I have felt for my entire career a disconnect between my colleagues in larger firms in Toronto (and sometimes in larger cities like Ottawa or Hamilton as well). Your experience of the practice of law is not necessarily the same as mine,” said Allinotte.

Candidates for the role of bencher responded to Allinotte’s very frank take, and we’ve included some of their responses in this issue, as part of a wider discussion on some of the financial, logistical and emotional pressures that come with being a sole practitioner or at a small firm. These issues may intensify yet.

“We’ve got this wave of new lawyers, in particular, and a lot of them are starting up on their own. Having been successful in having their call to the bar, they cannot get positions and are going to have to set up their own firms,” candidate Barbara Hendrickson told Law Times.

“This is going to become an increasingly important issue.”

Through my conversations with people about Law Times’ own dedicated election site, bencherelection.ca, it’s been heartening to hear why some candidates have chosen to run and have taken time away from their busy practices.

So far, we have nearly 50 candidate profiles, where we ask lawyers and paralegals who are running about what their top priorities are and where they stand on issues such as the LSO’s Statement of Principles. I encourage you to read and review them and to engage with candidates on the issues that are of importance to you.

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