The Law Society of Ontario’s 2023 Bencher elections are around the corner. It’s an event that takes place only once every 4 years. In interim time between elections, there are many burning issues, hot topics – and even sources of disgruntlement – that accumulate.
One of the persistent key issues for Ontario lawyers and paralegals is professional regulation and oversight. Here’s a quick primer on the issues at play.
Why Professional Regulation and Oversight?
The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) is responsible for regulating the legal profession; this includes ensuring that lawyers are held to high ethical and professional standards.
Specifically, it entails:
- Developing and enforcing rules of professional conduct
- Investigating complaints against lawyers, and
- Imposing disciplinary measures when necessary.
With a list like this, it’s clear that regulation and oversight are critical issues for legal professionals and the public. Here are some of the reasons.
First, regulation and oversight help to ensure that lawyers are providing high-quality legal services to their clients.
This is accomplished by having the LSO set standards for professional conduct, and then enforcing these standards when they are breached. This means the entire legal profession is held to uniform standards of competence, which protects the public by extension.
This regulatory model also helps to promote a culture of professionalism and accountability among lawyers – which in turn helps build trust between lawyers and their clients. The end result is a strong, tightly-regulated, and proficient profession overall.
Confidence in the Profession
Second, the LSO’s regulation and oversight is essential to maintaining public confidence in the legal system as a whole.
Since the legal profession plays a critical role in the administration of justice, by extension the public must also have confidence in the integrity and competence of lawyers and paralegals. This is achieved through the LSO keeping a close eye on its membership.
The LSO’s Role in Discipline
Finally, one of the LSO’s most important roles, relates to the investigation and discipline of its members. The LSO is tasked with looking into member misconduct, and then imposing penalty that fit.
This ensures that professional standards are met, and that there are repercussions when they are not. Given the LSO’s ever-present watchful eye, there is a clear incentive for lawyers and paralegals to uphold their professional and ethical duties and requirements. They must also compete on a level playing field when advertising and billing for their services.
All of this promotes fairness and competency, terms of how the members of the legal profession interact with and serve the public.
Have Your Say in the Future of Professional Regulation
These are just some of the aspects make regulatory activities an important topic, in terms of the scope and breadth of the LSO’s intervention. The upcoming 2023 LSO Bencher election is a rare chance to address this issue, and have your say on what the future looks like.
Make sure you get out to vote!
I’m running as your bencher candidate. Vote for me because I will keep an eye on the balance sheet, moderate LSO regulations, and improve access to justice. Learn more at russellalexander.com/bencher2023