This week, voting begins for the Law Society of Ontario’s bencher election.
Speculation (and hopes) have emerged that turnout this election cycle will be higher (more than a dismal 33.84 per cent), thanks to younger candidates who have decided to run and social media engagement (though it’s estimated 60 per cent of candidates are not on Twitter).
Nearly 120 candidates sent in candidate profiles to our site, and there have been a lot of late nights and early mornings (by candidates and journalists alike) chatting on issues facing lawyers and paralegals.
The list is exhaustive: access to justice, governance, entity regulation, rural versus urban lawyers, licensing and on and on. The moments that made me most delighted were when people who were vastly different agreed to hear each other out and, in the process, developed more robustly developed their own viewpoints and demonstrated the civility for which the profession is known.
The Ontario legal community is a close-knit and inter-connected bunch, and they’ve kept us (and each other) on their toes, in the massive lead-up to the election.
It’s finally here. And, with it, come important questions about the future of the profession and its self-regulation model.
“There are those that argue if [the LSO] is only to govern in the public interest, why bother having elections? Why not just appoint people?,” says bencher candidate John Nunziata.
“Right now, there are lay benchers that the provincial government appoints, and there’s a reason behind that.”
Each voter has a chance to chart the future of the profession, by the simple act of participating in the process.
For that reason, no matter who you choose to support, voting is in itself the greatest statement of all.