Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

December 09, 2009 13:24 ET

Law Society Reforms Aim for Modernization and Renewal

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 9, 2009) - Recently approved reforms by the Law Society of Upper Canada will modernize its governance structure and foster renewal of its board of directors.

"I commend my colleagues for taking these progressive steps to ensure a continual renewal in the governance of the Law Society," says Law Society Treasurer W. A. Derry Millar. "With these reforms, the Law Society once again demonstrates its leadership in regulating in the public interest."

The reforms, approved at the board's December meeting, set a 12-year term limit for elected benchers (directors) and reduce the number of unelected benchers by ending ex officio bencher status. The reforms introduce emeritus status for former treasurers and benchers who reach the term limit. Emeritus benchers are eligible for appointment to committees and the Hearing Panel, but do not participate in Convocation, the monthly board meeting.

"Our consultations with benchers, lawyers and paralegals made it clear that we needed to make these changes to renew and modernize our governance structure so that the Law Society can continue to lead the profession in the current business and legal environment," says Thomas Heintzman, chair of the Governance Task Force, which recommended the reforms.

The Law Society's board of directors includes lawyers, paralegals and lay persons (non-lawyers and non-paralegals). Eight lay benchers are appointed by the Ontario government. Forty lawyer benchers are elected every four years by Ontario's lawyers. The two current paralegal benchers were appointed by the Attorney General of Ontario; however, the first paralegal election will take place in the spring of 2010. In addition to setting the policy direction for the Law Society, benchers sit on panels that hear cases concerning lawyer and paralegal conduct and competence.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

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