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
- Ryan Alford
Last year, the Law Society adopted a requirement that lawyers demonstrate “a personal valuing” of its chosen ideals. Despite appreciating that this compelled speech infringed Charter rights, and predicting that it would inevitably lead to another costly legal challenge, the Society rejected any compromise and relied on an aggressive conception of its regulatory powers and its own interpretation of how to balance lawyers’ rights against its own objectives. In this election, Ontario’s lawyers can put a stop to this. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are important objectives. They should be promoted effectively in ways that do not infringe fundamental rights or exceed the Society’s statutory powers.
Curbing Excessive Regulation:
The Law Society should always carefully consider the costs of imposing further regulations on its licencees, particularly small firm and solo practitioners. Not every problem should be addressed by imposing onerous regulatory burdens on lawyers. The benchers wield a weighty hammer, but not every problem is a nail.
Addressing Financial Irresponsibility:
Ontario’s lawyers should receive a detailed explanation for why the dues we pay are higher than any other jurisdiction in the world. If these dues prove to be excessive, we should look for ways to reduce these fees, particularly for the newly called. I see no reason why the Society should continue to operate a lavish bencher’s dining hall and wine cellar.
Promoting Access to Justice:
Access to justice should be promoted by removing regulatory and financial barriers to small firm practice, which are particularly harmful to access to justice in Northern Ontario. The Law Society should carefully scrutinize any proposals that would increase the number of lawyers entering the profession, especially if those new lawyers will be burdened by student loan debts that preclude them from entering small firm or small town practice.
Ontario’s lawyers deserve benchers who listen to and take seriously everyone’s concerns about how the Law Society regulates the profession. Please take this opportunity to make this a reality.
Ryan is a tenured professor at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in Thunder Bay, who teaches constitutional law, administrative law, and seminars in legal history.
He holds a research doctorate in constitutional law from the University of South Africa, a master’s degree in law from the University of Oxford, and a law degree from New York University.
In addition to teaching at Bora Laskin, Ryan served as a Visiting Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (in Frankfurt, Germany) and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria.
Before teaching, Ryan practiced law in Brussels and in New York City.
He is the Applicant challenging the constitutionality of the Law Society’s Statement of Principles requirement.