04-30-15. 17:00. 96. 8. 40. 20. 20. These numbers determine the future of the legal industry.
Election day is April 30, 2015. On this day, at 17:00 o’clock sharp, the 96 candidates will be whittled into 40 benchers (20 from inside Toronto and 20 outside), 8 of whom have the highest votes will be elected as regional benchers.
Change is coming. The 23 incumbents (14 in Toronto and 9 outside) prove it.
With a guaranteed minimum of 17 new benchers this year, and a number of fate beholding decisions to be made, embracing the future of the legal profession is vital.
Unequal Legal Representation
One major issue that’s at the heart of many campaigns this year is the racial, gender, and age inequality on Convocation.
“It’s in our best interest that Convocation represent the diversity of the profession. Not only when it comes to area of practice (right now almost half of all benchers are litigators), or gender (60 percent are men), but also when it comes to age. Today, only two out of 40 benchers are under the age of 50.” – Melissa Kluger, Precedent
While in accordance, Mitchell Kowalski’s fifth goal of his Five Point Plan goes behind the closed doors of individual law practices:
“Institute much more detailed data collection on legal services providers in connection with gender, race, and finances so that LSUC has a much better, data-driven understanding of what is happening in the profession so that solutions to gender and racial inequality can be better addressed. Exit interviews with all lawyers who leave private practice will be instituted as part of this.”
“Most of you may know Mitchell Kowalski as a talented writer, author, teacher and visionary. Indeed, his critically acclaimed and American Bar Association best-selling book, “Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century’ has shown him to be a thought leader in the world of legal innovation.” – Mark C. Robins, C.E.O. of LawyerLocate.ca Inc.
Alternative Business Structures (ABS)
The one issue that divides the 2015 bencher candidates into two categories of for and against is the ABS model.
Kowalski feels that ABS will “enhance the ability of lawyers to provide greater access to justice and provide better client service.” He uses an Australian firm, Salvos Legal, as an example.
Salvos Legal’s mission is “to create systemic change in the availability of access to justice for all people so that no one is without a trusted adviser to provide comfort and counsel in their time of need.”
Kowalski believes ABS will “provide different career paths” and “help provide greater work/life balance for those who desire it.”
On the contrary, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association says, “evidence suggests that the implementation of ABS and Non-Lawyer Ownership of law firms will introduce unnecessary conflicts regarding professionalism and ethics, in addition to myriad regulatory issues.”
Kowalski points out that “ABS will not be mandatory for all lawyers. Those who wish to use the model will do so, those who don’t – won’t.”
Read the FAQ’s of ABS and the Future of Legal Services by the Law Society.
The Future of The Legal Profession
“The Law Society has become disconnected from its members and from the public interest. It has been become bloated and lethargic; unable to address the concerns of the legal profession in the 21st Century.” – Mitchell Kowalski
Kowalski hopes to address many other concerns if elected regarding the future of legal profession including the instability of articling, unequal legal training, administrative transformations and electoral and governance transformations.
“Mitchell is running in the upcoming Bencher election in Toronto Region. If you believe that fresh, new, forward-thinking voices are needed at Convocation in order to set the legal profession along a path that makes it more modern, vibrant and relevant in the 21st Century, I hope you’ll vote for Mitchell.” – Mark C. Robins, C.E.O. of LawyerLocate.ca Inc.
Photo of Mitch Kowalski by Paul Eekhoff
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