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HLA Main Rss Feed

The HLA Endorses Janis Criger for LSO Bencher

Feb 26, 2019


Even if you don’t vote for me, please vote.

The Hamilton Law Association has kindly offered space for Andrew Spurgeon and me to set out our Bencher Election 2019 platforms. Thank you for that and thank you for endorsing us both in this Bencher Election. I am pleased and honoured to have the Association’s support.

Thank you also to the people who voted for me in the 2015 election. I was very pleasantly surprised to be elected.

Now, the title. In Bencher Election 2015, less than 40% of lawyers voted. I can’t remember whether the percentage was 34 or 37 but, either way, it means about 1/3 of lawyers decided who would set policy and make rules for the entire profession for the next four years.

I want your vote. I am asking for your vote. I have very much enjoyed the 2015 – 2019 Bencher term, working hard with people I like and respect to do my best to govern the profession in the public interest. I would like to serve a second term. That’s why your vote is important to me.

Your vote is also important to you. It’s your chance to send people you believe will govern the profession in the public interest, fairly and competently. Voting opens in the second week of April, 2019 and closes on April 30, 2019.

Andrew Spurgeon and I would very much like you to vote for both of us as out of Toronto candidates. Andrew is an excellent Bencher. He and I both enjoy the work and I believe we have made a difference at Convocation and in Committees. Andrew and I know that Hamilton has a unique and valuable voice to offer at Convocation and Committees and we would like to continue being Hamilton Benchers.

Ross Earnshaw and David Howell, also excellent Benchers, are not candidates in this election. I regret that they will not be at Convocation in the coming term.

In this election, Andrew and I have been cross-endorsed by a number of Toronto candidates. We hope you will cast some of your Toronto votes for them. These are candidates we know will do good work at Convocation and who, although we do not always agree, debate the issues respectfully and knowledgeably. They are:

John Callaghan                        Rebecca Durcan                                    Atrisha Lewis

Isfahan Merali              Barb Murchie                        Sid Troister                   Tanya Walker

Let’s look at some issues.

Statement of Principles

I support the SOP. There’s nothing wrong with someone telling you to do something you were going to do (and are already legally obligated to do) anyway.

Under 10 years of Call Benchers in Governance

As a member of the Governance Task Force, I’m in favour of having more recent Calls (some people called are not necessarily ‘young’) participate in governance at the Law Society. I don’t believe it will serve the recent Calls, the public or the profession for them to become Benchers. Being a Bencher is a minimum commitment of about 5 weeks per year, even without preparation and travel time.

In my view, recent Calls should be invited to join one Committee. Committees are where policies are debated and developed. Committee discussion means the recent Call would be on the ground floor of decision-making, while retaining a balance between Law Society governance work, career and family. Having two recent Calls on each Committee, in my view, expands the number participating in governance without unduly burdening people with plenty of other things on the go.

Paralegals in Family Law

I don’t agree that paralegals should work in family law only under a lawyer’s supervision. I do agree that they should not advocate for clients independently in court. Andrew and I differ on this. In my view, regulation has greatly improved the overall quality of paralegals, although there are bad paralegals, just as there are bad lawyers.

I will watch carefully to see that paralegal scope in family law is properly and clearly defined, so that there can be no doubt about whether or not a particular activity is outside scope. I will also review the college curriculum as it is presented to the Access to Justice Committee, to ensure that the education is appropriate. The exam will also be presented to the Committee, and that too will bear careful scrutiny.

Libraries & Law Associations

I support continued proper, stable funding for law libraries. Law libraries perform vital functions for sole practitioners and small firms. Law Associations encourage collegiality, which breeds competence and civility.

Pro Bono Funding

I support proper, stable funding for Pro Bono Ontario but not by way of a levy on lawyers. First, 60,000 licensees should not be paying the whole of something that is the responsibility of all Ontario taxpayers. Second, a levy penalizes people who are already doing pro bono/low bono work as, no matter how low the levy, it is still a higher percentage of their income than it is of the person who does no pro bono/low bono work in a similar practice. Third, people who already do pro bono/low bono work would be paying twice.

Thank you again for your support in 2015. For more information, see: lsobencher.com/candidates and bencherelection.lawtimesnews.com (scroll down the page for candidates). Website coming soon. Twitter: @Thinqr1 (that’s a “Q” in the middle).

Janis Criger