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About time

Editorial Obiter

In May, a Law Times columnist wrote a piece exploring the colonialist legacy inherent in the name of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

“As a lawyer, I am required to pay membership fees to an organization whose title includes the name ‘Upper Canada.’

“However, the fact it is the regulatory body for lawyers who live in northern areas of the province that never were part of the territory of Upper Canada is truly bizarre,” wrote David McRobert, an Ontario lawyer.

“As a lawyer who has worked with and advocated on behalf of indigenous peoples in Ontario, I am ashamed that the regulatory body governing lawyers remains strongly associated by virtue of its title with a very dark period in Ontario’s history,” he added.

Fast-forward to September — Convocation has voted that the law society’s name will be changed and the “Upper Canada” will be scrapped.

It’s a very small start in updating the public perception of the profession, so the name of the regulatory body is both timely and relevant.

Julian Falconer, who led the committee studying the name change, hit the nail on the head.

“We actually have a crisis of public disconnection,” he says. “Something’s not working.”

For a profession that is currently making headlines for dissension around proposed changes to private incorporation tax rules, a move to relate to the public (and to all Canadians) is a breath of self-aware fresh air. Commendations to those who chose to move with the times.      

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