Imparting Wisdom, without sounding like a Jerk

The Law Society of Ontario’s Bencher’s elections are in full swing. There are many candidates, some running for specific causes and some running because they want the Law Society to have Benchers whose average year of call is not 27 years.

So. That was interesting. I’ve been Called to the Bar 26 years. I’d like to think those years of experience count for something, but as I read the Tweets & Rants (seriously people, we need to be professional while we discuss issues) from younger lawyers, it became clear that they have discounted experience in favour of youth.

This in turn made me consider some of the more frustrating files we’ve had in the past year – most of those are with junior counsel who don’t know the Rules and are not working with a Mentor or Senior Partner. With some of those lawyers I’ve tried to suggest they act in accordance with the Rules. It is rarely well received.

The challenge, it seems, is how to impart wisdom, without sounding like an arrogant jerk a.k.a. a lawyer.

To the younger members of the Bar, I suggest that you are right to want a seat at the Bencher table. I’ve wanted to see more non big Bay Street firms at the table so I see a better reflection of my practice over the years.

However, let’s keep in mind we’re talking about our Regulatory Body. They don’t control Law School Tuition Fees, though many young lawyers appear to believe they do. They are not going to wave a magic wand and forgive your law school debt. They are going to regulate our profession in the public interest.

Benchers do not Regulate in a pro-Lawyer manner. If they did that, we would not be self governing any more.

So, younger lawyers who have decided I’m too old to be relevant: how do you propose governing in the public interest?

Inga B. Andriessen JD