Mercer elected treasurer of LSO

Toronto lawyer Malcolm Mercer was elected to lead the Law Society of Ontario over the next year, amid a contentious time for the regulator that governs the province’s lawyers.

Mercer elected treasurer of LSO
Malcolm Mercer was elected to lead the Law Society of Ontario.

Toronto lawyer Malcolm Mercer was elected to lead the Law Society of Ontario over the next year, amid a contentious time for the regulator that governs the province’s lawyers.

The election has been deemed unusual by insiders, because incumbents in recent memory have run unopposed and been acclaimed. But several first-time benchers within the law society mobilized behind Toronto lawyer Chi-Kun Shi, a candidate who opposed the statement of principles. Mercer, the treasurer and incumbent leader of the law society, was a champion of the statement of principles during his time as a bencher.

The law society, fresh off an election for its board of benchers, gathered at a Convocation meeting on Thursday in front of a packed audience. Twenty-two newly elected lawyer directors oppose a requirement that Ontario lawyers must pledge written support for diversity and inclusion through a statement of principles.

As Law Times previously reported, the next treasurer will preside over the creation of the law society’s goals through 2023.

Mercer is a partner and former litigation practice leader at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and adjunct professor in Legal Ethics at Osgoode Hall Law School. He has held leadership roles on the law society’s Professional Regulation Committee, Advertising and Fee Arrangements Working Group and Alternative Business Structures Working Group.

Shi practises at Chi-Kun Shi Barrister & Solicitor. When Shi’s supporters announced her candidacy for treasurer, they said in a press release that she “is unflinching in her commitment to the principle that everyone deserves able and committed legal representation no matter how unpopular the client or the cause,” noting her previous cases representing “the family of Steven Chau, a schizophrenic who suffered a psychotic episode during which he killed his wife and two young children; to grocer David Chen in the Lucky Moose citizen’s arrest case; and to notorious holocaust denier Ernst Zundel when he was being deported from Canada.”

Originally from Hong Kong, Shi came to Canada in 1975. She has worked both as an aerospace engineer and as a civil litigator, she told Law Times during the bencher election. Shi also volunteers pro bono service to a community group dedicated to promoting the learning of Asian history in the Second World War. She also said she volunteers screening applicants to the University of Toronto Faculty of Engineering undergraduate program and appears as guest commentator on current affairs at OMNI TV Cantonese and Mandarin news programs.

Both Mercer and Shi called for benchers to work in unity on the issues ahead. The law society is also scheduled to vote on several motions on the statement of principles at the meeting, held at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

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