Law Society of Ontario opens nomination period for 2023 bencher election

Nomination period will run from Oct. 17, 2022, to Feb. 24, 2023

Law Society of Ontario opens nomination period for 2023 bencher election
A total of 45 licensees will be elected to serve as benchers

The Law Society of Ontario has opened nominations for its bencher election in April 2023. The nomination period will run for roughly four months, starting October 17, 2022, until February 24, 2023.

An announcement published last week on the LSO website urged Ontario lawyers and paralegals “from all communities, practice environments, work areas, firm sizes, and geographic locations” to run for election.

The announcement also introduced a new requirement for candidacy. With this new rule, candidates who have not previously been elected benchers must first complete a 45-minute online candidate orientation and education course to qualify.

A total of 45 licensees will be elected to serve as benchers, with voting set to be held online on April 19 to April 28 next year.

The elected benchers will become members of the LSO’s decision-making body called Convocation, which convenes about eight times a year to discuss policy matters and govern the society’s affairs.

Convocation comprises 40 lawyer benchers, with 20 voted from inside Toronto and 20 elected from outside Toronto, and five elected paralegal benchers. It also includes eight lay benchers appointed by the provincial government.

The LSO said it will post voting guidelines online in March 2023, a month ahead of the April poll. This voting guide will include “general information about the election process, how to vote and the biographical and election statements provided by the candidates.”

The previous bencher election was held in 2019, which saw the StopSOP slate win 22 seats.

StopSOP, now renamed FullStop, was formed in opposition to the LSO’s EDI initiative requiring licensees to “create and abide by an individual Statement of Principles that acknowledges your obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in your behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.”

A new group of bencher candidates recently formed a coalition to counter FullStop’s 2023 campaign. The Bencher Good Governance Coalition, which currently has 28 candidates, said its primary goals are to bring civility back to the law society, protect self-regulation, and prevent the vote-splitting that favoured FullStop in the 2019 election.

“We have formed this coalition to give the lawyers of Ontario a clear choice: between serious, experienced, and principle-based leadership and an ideology based in divisive rhetoric,” said Greg Monforton, a bencher candidate from Windsor and the former president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

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