Meet the Slate!
These 22 lawyers ran on a platform to eliminate the compelled Statement of Principles, known as StopSOP. They were elected with top votes from across the province and will serve the profession as benchers until 2023.
Their campaign was organized and led by the StopSOP Team, which included these non-bencher lawyers and paralegals and many others who helped in various capacities:
- Bencher Profiles
- John F. Fagan
Law Society issues of top concern to me:
Any residual racism in the legal profession: We should repeal The Law Society’s “Statement of Principles” requirement, an instance of unjustified compelled speech. As a person of the left, and of a certain age, I am vibrantly aware that threats to free speech in North America once came mostly from the right; times change, but the need to stand up for free speech does not. Beyond that, the “Statement of Principles” requirement is just poor policy. Compelling lawyers to profess such “Statements of Principles,” while creating damaging uproar, will never help anyone achieve any advancement in the legal profession. I will support licit and useful action toward overcoming any residual racism lurking in the profession.
Problems in legal education, and of access to justice: I will help try to get the membership of The Law Society at large, the provincial and federal governments and taxpayers, and the universities in Ontario to collaborate to find new money and/or savings to grapple with the unacceptably high cost of law school tuition; the shortage of (decently-paid and worthwhile!) articling jobs; and the generally untenable price of legal services these days. Temptations to abandon articling, replace lawyers with paralegals in family law, and send commercial legal work offshore, strike me as indicative of desperation. We must manage costs without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Delays in the courts: We owe it to the public to speak out collectively and to lobby politicians for faster judicial appointments. The pool of judgeship-ready seasoned lawyers is ample.
Law Society governance: We need the Society’s members at large more involved in the profession’s governance. (Changing the number or mode of selection of benchers won’t help, and indeed could hurt.) It’s hard to get busy, cash-strapped lawyers to spend time on Law Society matters, but let’s try. We should, to start, restore the status of bar-admitted lawyers in Ontario to that of “members” (not mere “licensees”) of The Law Society. We are, after all, a self-governing profession, are we not?
I was in small-firm general legal practice, mostly in North York, for 16+ years after my 1975 Call. I then spent 19+ years, until my 2011 retirement, based in Oshawa as a roving Tax Prosecutor for the Attorney General of Ontario. I’m U of T Law ’73. I belong to the Canadian Bar Association and to the Toronto and Durham law associations. I’ve run for office several times for the NDP, including provincially in 2011 and 2014; young people are now taking charge on that front. In law and in riding politics, I’ve always enjoyed mentoring the new recruits. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, I migrated to Canada in 1969, during the Vietnam War.