Bencher Elections 2019
Becoming a Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario
(Adapted from Law Society FAQ Page for 2015)
1. When is the next bencher election?
The next bencher election is April 30, 2019
2. What procedures govern the bencher election?
The election is conducted in accordance with the Law Society Act and By-Law 3 made pursuant to the Act.
3. Who can run for bencher?
Every lawyer licensee who, on June 1, 2019, would not have held the office of elected bencher for 12 or more years, and whose business address, or, where the licensee has no business address, home address, as indicated on the records of the Law Society, is within Ontario, and whose licence is not suspended at the time of signing the nomination form, can run for bencher.
4. What is the deadline for candidate nominations?
Nomination forms must be received in the Office of the Elections Officer at the Law Society, 130 Queen Street West, Osgoode Hall, Toronto, by 5:00 p.m. EST on February 8, 2019. Nomination forms will be available on the Law Society website in due course.
5. Who can nominate me?
A candidate for bencher must be nominated by at least five (5) lawyer licensees whose licences are not suspended when they sign the candidate’s nomination form.
6. Do I have to file anything in addition to my nomination form?
The Law Society will prepare a Voting Guide that includes a photograph, brief biography, and election statement of each candidate. The Voting Guide will be available to voters online throughout the election. To be included in the Voting Guide, you must file the following material in addition to the nomination form: i) a colour photograph showing your head and shoulders, in accordance with the LSO’s specifications; ii) biographical information not exceeding 120 words (approximately 25 lines when formatted), including headings; iii) an election statement not exceeding 350 words (approximately 35 lines when formatted), including headings.
Details on formatting and how to submit this information will be available on the LSO website closer to the election. Note that all material needs to be filed on the same date that nominations close, namely February 8, 2019 (the 2nd Friday of February, in accordance with By-Law 3).
7. Are there any rules governing my campaign for bencher?
All election material and statements must be in good taste and comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
8. Who is eligible to vote in the bencher election?
All lawyer licensees whose licences are not suspended on April 7, 2019 are eligible to vote.
9. How many candidates can voters vote for?
Voters can cast up to 20 votes for candidates inside Toronto and up to 20 votes for candidates outside Toronto. Voters are not required to cast all 40 of their votes.
10. How do voters vote?
Election procedures will be published by January 31, 2019. All eligible voters will be provided with detailed instructions on how to vote on April 13, 2019. Voting will close at 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 30, 2019.
11. What is a regional bencher?
Eight candidates will be elected as regional benchers. The regional bencher is the candidate who receives the highest number of votes from voters in each of the eight electoral regions. The business addresses of regional benchers, or, where they have no business address, the home addresses of regional benchers, must be within the electoral regions in which they are elected.
12. What are the eight electoral regions?
- City of Toronto
- Northwest Electoral Region composed of the territorial districts of Kenora, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay.
- Northeast Electoral Region composed of the territorial districts of Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury, and Timiskaming.
- East Electoral Region composed of the counties of Frontenac, Hastings, Lanark, Lennox and Addington, Prince Edward and Renfrew; the united counties of Leeds and Grenville, Prescott and Russell and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; and the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
- Central East Electoral Region composed of the District Municipality of Muskoka, the counties of Haliburton, Northumberland, Peterborough, Simcoe and Victoria; and the regional municipalities of Durham and York.
- Central West Electoral Region composed of the counties of Bruce, Dufferin, Grey and Wellington; and the regional municipalities of Halton and Peel.
- Central South Electoral Region composed of the county of Brant; and the regional municipalities of Haldimand-Norfolk, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara and Waterloo.
- Southwest Electoral Region composed of the counties of Elgin, Essex, Huron, Kent, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford and Perth.
13. When do the benchers elected on April 30, 2019 take office?
Benchers will take office in May, 2019, at the first sitting of Convocation after the election.
14. How long does an elected bencher hold office?
The length of term for elected benchers is four years.
15. What are some of the duties of benchers?
Benchers attend monthly committee and Convocation meetings to develop policies related to the governance of individuals licensed to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario. Benchers also attend ceremonial calls to the Bar. Benchers may also be appointed to the Law Society Tribunal and may sit on hearings to consider cases related to the competence, conduct and capacity of licensees.
16. How much time do benchers dedicate to Law Society business?
The amount of time benchers dedicate to Law Society business varies significantly from bencher to bencher. It is estimated that benchers dedicate an average of 31 days a year to the Law Society.
17. Are elected benchers remunerated?
Yes, elected benchers are remunerated for some of the activities they undertake for the Law Society at the rate of $565 per day and $340 per half-day (2014 rates). Benchers must contribute 26 attendances (an attendance is a half day or a full day) to Law Society activities before being eligible for remuneration.
18. How is the 26-day deductible calculated?
Half days and full days will count as one day of attendance until a bencher has exceeded the 26-day deductible for each remuneration cycle. The remuneration cycle will be based on the bencher year, not the calendar year.
19. What activities are eligible for remuneration?
Benchers are remunerated for attending Convocation, committee, task force and working group meetings, special Convocations, calls to the Bar, bencher information sessions, and mandatory bencher education sessions. Benchers are also remunerated for sitting on Law Society Tribunal hearings and appeals and for conducting pre-hearing conferences and reason writing.
Benchers are also remunerated for attending meetings as the Law Society’s official representative at the direction of the Treasurer or Convocation. Remuneration is also given for time spent as the Law Society’s representative on boards of external organizations, and for other roles in external organizations where that external organization permits remuneration.
Reasonable time traveling to and from eligible Law Society activities is also counted for remuneration purposes. Attending a meeting by telephone is an eligible activity.
24. Are benchers reimbursed for expenses?
Benchers are reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in conducting Law Society business.