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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - Guide to the Application of Recommendation 3(1): Statement of Principles

The Law Society’s Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee has developed a guide to help clarify Recommendation 3(1) of the report Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions, which requires licensees to adopt and abide by a Statement of Principles.
 
The Guide states that the requirement does not carry any obligation to profess a particular belief, or seek to persuade anyone to believe in a certain point-of-view. Rather, it references exiting legal and professional obligations regarding human rights and the prevention of systemic racism and discrimination, and makes clear that the Statement relates to a licensee’s professional conduct.
The guide is being shared with all licensees via email on November 21 - check your inbox.
 
More information on the Statement of Principles, including an archive of the October 30 Information Session on the new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) obligations, is available on the EDI webpage.

Provision of Legal Services through CSOs

Last week, Convocation (the Law Society's Governing Board) approved, in principle, a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations. 

The policy is intended to enhance access to justice for individuals who may have legal issues but who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal. Under the new policy, CSOs will be permitted to provide legal services to clients in addition to the services they already provide, such as social and health services. The policy is intended to enable the creation of new inclusive entry points for vulnerable people to find legal services, and integrated service delivery to people facing multiple issues, including legal problems. 

Proposed by-law amendments to implement the policy will be drafted and circulated for comment to interested stakeholders prior to being brought to Convocation for approval.

Under the policy, CSOs will register with the Law Society, provided certain conditions are met, including that:

  • the licensee has control over the delivery of legal services
  • solicitor-client privilege is protected
  • the fundamentals of professionalism, such as independence, competence, integrity, confidentiality, candour, avoidance of conflicts of interest, and service to the public good through client relationships and responsibilities to the administration of justice are safeguarded.

A CSO will be de-registered if these requirements are not met. Lawyers and paralegals providing legal services through registered CSOs will continue to be fully regulated by the Law Society.

The following additional principles will be included in the by-law:

  • Civil society organizations that are funded by Legal Aid Ontario, including clinics as defined under the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998, will be expressly excluded
  • The provision of legal services, legal information and support services through existing permitted arrangements will not be affected 
  • Legal services provided by registered CSOs are to be provided at no cost to the client by way of service, membership or other fee models
  • Registered CSOs may not refer clients to lawyers or paralegals in exchange for donations, payments or other considerations.

More information is available in the Professional Regulation Committee report. 
For background information see the ABS Working Group webpage.

Pathways to the Profession Pilot Project

To Articling Principals: 

As part of the Pathways to the Profession Pilot Project, the Law Society has enhanced the Articling Program to support an overall evaluation of the experiential training component of the Lawyer Licensing Process. The new evaluative measures mirror those in the Law Practice Program and over the course of the pilot project the Law Society will study the effectiveness of both programs in preparing candidates for entry to the profession. 

In addition to the current Articling Program requirements, there are three new requirements effective for placements starting on or after May 1, 2014:

  1. Principal files an Experiential Training Plan for the articling placement before the start of the articling placement or within 10 business days of the start. The purpose of the annual Experiential Training Plan is to assure that the articling placement will provide the candidate with a meaningful training experience. The preparation of plans will also help promote a level of consistency in application of skills competencies across articling placements. To assist Principals with this requirement, a new online form for development and submission of the Training Plan will be available in July 2014. Filing of the Experiential Training Plan for placements starting on or after May 1 and before July 2 is required on or before July 16, 2014. 
  2. Principal files the final Record of Experiential Training in Articling Program at the end of the articling placement or within 10 business days of end. The Record of Experiential Training in Articling Program (RET) is a new online tool developed by the Law Society to gather information about articling placements from Principals and candidates.
  3. Candidate files the final Record of Experiential Training in Articling Program at the end of the articling placement or within 10 business days of end.

For an overview of the program and the changes, please visit Changes for 2014-15 or contact us at articling@lsuc.on.ca or 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext 3315.

Call for Nominations - 2014 Law Society Medals and Awards

The Law Society Medal was established in 1985 as an honour to be awarded by the Law Society to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding service within the profession, whether in a particular area of practice, the academic sphere or in some other professional capacity where the service is in accordance with the highest ideals of the legal profession.

The Lincoln Alexander Award is awarded annually in recognition of an Ontario lawyer who has demonstrated long standing interest and commitment to the public and to the pursuit of community service on behalf of residents of Ontario. 

The Laura Legge Award was established in 2007 and is to be given annually to a female member of the Law Society who has exemplified leadership within the profession.

In addition to the lawyer awards, there is the Law Society Distinguished Paralegal Award that recognizes a paralegal who has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement.

Full details on the awards and how to file a nomination are available on the Law Society website at http://www.lsuc.on.ca/awards-nominations/. The deadline for nominations is January 31, 2014.  Nominations will not be accepted after the close of nominations.

 

Law Society announces new, innovative paths to lawyer licensing 

The Law Society announced the names of the providers of its Law Practice Program (LPP). The addition of the LPP will offer aspiring lawyers multiple-pathways to the Ontario Bar. Ryerson University will provide the Law Society’s English LPP and the University of Ottawa will provide the French LPP. Lawyer Licensing Process candidates may choose to either complete the enhanced Articling Program or the LPP. 

Additionally, Convocation approved another innovative option for fulfilling the experiential training component of its licensing requirements: the Integrated Practice Curriculum offered by Lakehead University as part of its law degree program. Upon completion of their JD degree, Lakehead graduates will only need to pass the licensing examinations and satisfy the good character requirement to complete the Lawyer Licensing Process and be called to the Bar in Ontario. They will not need to article or complete the Law Practice Program. More information on the Pathways Pilot Project

Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Project

Notice of Focus Group and Research Consultation

The Law Society of Upper Canada is committed to advancing equity and diversity in the legal profession.  In 2012, Convocation created the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group[1] with a mandate to investigate those challenges and consider strategies for enhanced inclusion at all career stages.

The Law Society has retained an independent consulting firm to conduct a consultation with the legal profession towards the fulfillment of the Working Group's mandate. As part of the consultation, focus groups will be held in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa and London.  

Licensed paralegals and lawyers who are in good standing and identify as racialized are invited to participate in the focus groups, to take place between May and September 2013[2].  All discussions and information shared in the focus groups are strictly confidential and anonymous. Reports will not reveal the identity of focus group participants. 

If you qualify and are interested in participating in one of the focus groups, please click on this link

Upon completion of the focus groups, all lawyers and paralegals, both racialized and non-racialized, will be invited to participate in a comprehensive survey on the same topics (in August / September 2013).  There will be further communications about the survey in the coming weeks. 

Your contribution to this Working Group consultation is important - it will enhance the Law Society's service to all members, the justice system, and the Ontario public interest. 

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact Josée Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at jbouchar@lsuc.on.ca

On behalf of
Raj Anand
Chair of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group

[1] 'Racialized' expresses race as the process by which groups are socially constructed, as well as to modes of self-identification related to race, and includes Arab, Black (e.g. African-Canadian, African, Caribbean), Chinese, East-Asian (e.g. Japanese, Korean), Latin American and Hispanic, South Asian (e.g. Indo-Canadian, Indian Subcontinent), South-East Asian (e.g. Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Filipino), and West Asian (e.g. Iranian, Afghan) persons.

[2] Please note that not everyone who registers will be able to participate as space is limited and the researchers need to ensure they get a reliable cross-section of the Law Society of Upper Canada membership.  If you are selected to participate, a recruiter will contact you by phone. 

Changes to the LSUC CPD Requirement

The Law Society has made changes to the CPD requirement in response to lawyer and paralegal input and following its two-year review of the program. 

TLA played an integral part in the process by advocating for allowing credit to co-authors and co-editors as well as those writing for firm publications, suggesting greater flexibility in applying the professional criteria, and recommending improvements for the reporting system.  Some of the changes are effective immediately and the remainder will be implemented for the 2014 reporting year. 


Changes effective as of May 30, 2013 

  1. Co-writing and co-editing are now eligible activities
  2. Writing and editing for firm publications are now eligible activities
  3. Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours expanded

The Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours has been revised to clarify the descriptions and provide increased flexibility with regard to its application. The revised Criteria is broader and recognizes a range of professionalism issues that may arise in different practice areas and practice contexts.  Content submitted for accreditation on or after May 30, 2013 will be assessed according to the revised criteria.

 

Changes to be implemented in 2014

  1. Accredited Provider Framework to be established
  2. Elimination of separate New Member Requirement
  3. Late fee and reinstatement fee to be implemented
  4. Simplified reporting system to be introduced for 2014
For more information on the changes, including a list of FAQs, visit the LSUC website.

Licensing in Ontario:  Articling and the LPP
 
Articling

As you are aware, there is an increased demand for articling positions in Ontario. Many law students seek articling positions in Toronto and numerous positions are offered and filled in this city year after year. The TLA and many of its members continue to strongly support articling as the preferred pathway to licensing and hope that it continues to be the primary licensing pre-requisite. For more information on how to become an articling principal, please visit http://www.lsuc.on.ca/HowtoBecomeaPrincipal/ or contact us or the Law Society of Upper Canada.

There are students still looking for 2013-2014 articling positions and the selection process for articling in 2014-2015 take place this July and August.

Law Practice Program (LPP)

As an alternative pathway to licensing, the Law Society recently approved a pilot project for a Law Practice Program (LPP). This program includes a four month training course and a four month work placement to commence in 2014-2015. Trainees during the Work Placement can do the same work as articling students. It is preferred that trainees be paid for their work, although some exceptions might include not for profit organizations, legal aid clinics, etc.

Both the Ryerson and Osgoode LPP projects are looking for Ontario lawyers to commit to providing Work Placements by May 31, 2013 to start in the summer of 2014. Ryerson and Osgoode are each looking for work placements as the identification of a minimum number of potential placements is a requirement of their respective bid proposals. Lawyers interested in providing such a placement are not required to choose between the bidders and can commit to both proposals if they wish. The information about potential placements obtained by all bidders will be made available to the successful bidder at the end of the process.

If you are interested in learning more about Ryerson’s project, please click here. If you are interested in learning more about Osgoode’s project, please click here.