President's Message

On behalf of the Hamilton Law Association, let me welcome you to our website. This Association has been in existence for over 140 years with an initial membership of 60 lawyers. Today we enjoy a membership of almost 1,037 men and women from a wide spectrum of background, race and religion. We are a true reflection of Ontario’s multi-cultural population.

Our offices and library are located on the 5th floor of the John Sopinka Court House in the heart of downtown Hamilton. Our library has over 30,000 books, electronic resources, monographs, reports and other paper bound legal services. It is the Regional Law Library for the Central South Region of Ontario.

The mission statement of our Association is to enable its members to become successful, respected and fulfilled in their profession. We accomplish this goal through mutual respect, a dedication to excellence and a spirit of comradery that is unrivaled in the Province. We provide our members with a wide range of continuing legal education opportunities in the form of annual conferences, topical seminars and lunchtime round table discussions covering various aspects of the law.

The Hamilton Law Association publishes its Journal six times yearly. The Journal contains articles on a wide range of legal topics of interest to our members.

In addition to providing continuing legal education support, the Law Association promotes a spirit of collegiality amongst its members by hosting a number of social events including its Annual Dinner each Spring. 

On behalf of the Hamilton Law Association, its Trustees and its members, I welcome you to our website. I encourage you to explore the website and learn about our Association, our events and our membership. I also encourage you to log onto our Facebook page where you can further find information about the Hamilton Law Association and its various events.


David van der Woerd
HLA President 2022 - 2023

President's Report |  August 2022

I hope you are enjoying the summer.  Things at the Association have slowed somewhat with the summer holiday season upon us but it looks like the fall will be full tilt once again.  How full tilt manifests itself is yet to be determined. With the pandemic issues continuing to swirl around us all, some hybrid form of the delivery of services by the Association to the public will happen.  Our dedicated staff has adapted in ways they likely never thought they would, and my appreciation for them and their dedication to the legal profession of Hamilton is remarkable.
Before the summer hiatus, the Association had a number of virtual  and in person events.  We have been testing the waters with in person events as much as possible because we all thirst for the personal interaction that the last two years has deprived us of.  Our sojourn into hybrid CPD events 
has surprised us in terms of how they have been received and how the members have participated as we continue to navigate the new world we learn each time an event is put on.  Please bear with us while we iron out the kinks.
We held our Annual Dinner in June at the Hamilton Art Gallery and it was a great success.  It was so refreshing to get together again.  The Art Gallery gave us access to inside and outside facilities, which was very pleasing and the evening was well attended and enjoyable on so many fronts.  We honoured Rob Hooper, our worthy recipient of the Emilius Irving Award.  It was a memorable evening for everyone in attendance, including, of course, for Rob and his family and friends who attended, some from great distances, and it was inspiring to hear Rob’s story and to witness a glimpse of him in action both as a lawyer and as the great person he clearly is.  The Association is proud to have honoured him.

It had been a considerable amount of time since we held an annual dinner and there were a number of other notable highlights that happened.  That included the impromptu appearance of Luke Bentham, member of the Juno award winning music band The Dirty Nil, who displayed and shared his considerable talents in performing musical tribute for the association and its award winner.  The Association also honoured many of its past members who have left us since we last met together for the dinner.  That notorious list included the likes of the following incredible cast of lawyers and legal minds, such as, Cettina Cornish, William Morris, Gordon Guyatt, Justice Ray Harris, Reno Violin, Marvin Stringer, Helen Pelton, Cono Spitale, John Parente, Catherine Cassidy, Allan Mills, Paul H. Ennis, Donald Mackenzie Mann, Justice Walter Stayshyn, Edward Madronich, Tom Leousis, George Simpson, Joel Kerr, Norman Williams, Earl Cranfield, and Justice John Cavarzan.   

The energy and devotion of the trustees and the volunteers of the Association make this role so much easier and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and lead this year.  The amount of effort put in by so many people is a reward in itself.
Over the summer months we have continued to liaison with the Federation of Ontario Law Associations (FOLA) and the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), through Legal Information and Resource Network (LIRN), the corporation which intercedes between LSO and the Ontario Law Associations in relation to library administration and funding.  In my tenure as a trustee I have seen that this is a dynamic and evolving relationship and in my first few days as your president, I have seen that that continues to be a theme. This spring we have participated in consultations in the sector where LIRN is attempting to develop standards and minimum expectations around library services, what services associations should be offering, management responsibilities to be executed and funding interconnectedness.  Among other things it hopes to particularize what constitutes library services and tasks and what is outside that scope and therefore in the domain of the association’s responsibilities and human resources policies and guidelines.  Each of these things touch on areas of sensitivity and governance and the ultimate outcome of these discussions are of great importance to the Association and its staff.
We had the opportunity to express our concerns to LSO Treasurer Teresa Donnelly and her staff in relation to the Association’s concerns regarding the competitive imbalance that has been created for small and medium size law firms in the allowance for multidisciplinary practices, including those established by the banks and major accounting firms.  Our voice was well received and we made a sincere intent to liberalize the delivery of how legal services are offered, which may have an initial cache with the average consumer, but in the end could be harmful to the public and the law firms that have so effectively served them for so long.
The American Bar Association’s annual meeting will be held in August this year again, a welcome event after several years of being abbreviated.  Our fearless Executive Director Rebecca Bentham will be carrying the torch for us there again.  

I look forward to working on your behalf this fall as things ramp up again.  We appreciate your feedback as to how we can continue to deliver on your mandate for the members in this ever evolving pandemic environment.