1.LSUC No More
On September 28, 2017 the Benchers voted 38 to 11 to stop using the name Law Society of Upper Canada. On November 2, 2017 the Benchers voted to change the name to Law Society of Ontario, effective January 1, 2018. While a survey was sent to licensees with options for the new name, some lawyers expressed displeasure for not being consulted on the name change in the first place. More on this update can be found here.
2.Statement of Principles
In December 2016, after a four year consultation process, Convocation adopted 13 recommendations contained in the “Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group Final Report”. One of those recommendations was for a requirement that all licensees create and abide by an individual statement of principles that acknowledges their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally and in their behaviour toward colleagues, employees, clients and the public.
Some lawyers opposed the implementation of this new requirement. Opponents argued that the requirement imposed beliefs on lawyers and is contrary to the Charter. On December 1, 2017, Bencher Joe Groia filed a motion before Convocation requesting conscientious objectors be exempt from the requirement. The motion failed by a vote of 16 to 38. More on the Statement of Principles can be found here.
Also on December 1, the Law Society approved, in principle, an action plan to help improve access to justice, which includes establishing a special licence for paralegals and others with appropriate training, to offer some family law legal services.
The action plan was developed in partnership with the Ministry of the Attorney General, in response to the 21 recommendations outlined in the Family Legal Services Review, which considered whether a broader range of service providers could deliver certain family law legal services. More on this initiative can be found here.
The Law Society also approved a report and recommendations developed by the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group dealing with the regulation of contingency fees “to facilitate legal representation at a fair and reasonable cost”. The recommendations include:
- The introduction of a mandatory standard contingency fee agreement;
- A 'Know Your Rights' guide for the public;
- Disclosure requirements on completion of an agreement;
- Requirement for legal professionals to publicly disclose the maximum contingency fee percentage they charge by practice area; and
- New reporting information required on licensees' (lawyers and paralegals) annual reports to the Law Society.