Toronto lawyer Tanya Walker, founder of Walker Law Professional Corporation, will continue on as a bencher at the Law Society of Ontario, convocation decided on Thursday.
Walker was the first elected black woman from Toronto to be a bencher when she joined Convocation in 2016, filling an open spot left when then-bencher Paul Schabas’ became treasurer of the law society.
Walker will once again take a treasurer’s seat, this time current treasurer Malcolm Mercer, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. Mercer narrowly defeated Walker in a recent election to determine the board of the law society. Mercer received 2,971 votes, placing 20th in Toronto, while Walker placed 21st with 2,915 votes.
Although Mercer ran in the election, he officially “ceased to hold office as an elected bencher” when he was elected treasurer on June 28, 2018, the law society’s Convocation agenda says. A motion electing Walker for her second term as bencher came before Convocation on May 23, when the board met with its other new board members for the first time.
Walker says she plans to focus on several issues as a bencher, one of 53 who regulate lawyers and paralegals in the province.
One initiative she’s looking forward to working on is a potential checklist of learning experiences lawyers must have before hitting major legal milestones like their first trial. She said it’s important for junior lawyers to have mentorship.
She also is interested in working on technology issues, noting that her own firm has benefitted from customer relationship management software. The LSO created a technology task force in the summer of 2018 to look at topics such as technology competency requirements in the province. Walker says lawyers are particularly looking for information on how to prevent hacking.
“Technology is not going away, so it’s important to provide guidance,” she says.
Many of the new benchers joining Walker are opposed to a recent LSO requirement that lawyers create a “Statement of Principles” saying they will promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
Walker says she is looking forward to working with them and is excited to hear what they want to replace it with instead.
“Diversity is very important to me. I hope that we continue to place as much importance on diversity as we have in the past few years,” she says.