The Self Regulation of Lawyers

As Ontario lawyers, our profession is regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC for short – oh yeah, we pronounce it that way too ).

The proclaimed goal of the LSUC is to regulate the profession to protect the public: if we don’t, the government would step in and look how well they handle things.

The challenge of self regulation means we need to self police. The current challenge with self policing is the failure to address complaints in a timely manner: this can lead to “problem” lawyers slipping through the cracks. For example, in the Heydary matter that is currently at the forefront of the news in the GTA, the LSUC appears to have known several years ago there could be an issue with this particular lawyer, however, they did nothing.

Sitting around the lawyers’ lounge last week I was regaled by numerous accounts of senior counsel having complained to the LSUC about lawyers participating in mortgage fraud, only to have a file opened between 2and 6 years after the complaint. That is not good enough.

Granted there are many complaints that have no merit. For example, I know a lawyer whose client complained he slouched when he spoke to the Judge. Really? Really you think a lawyer should be disciplined for slouching. Of course, I would like to think that complaints of that nature could be disposed of quickly.

However, there does appear to be an increase in the number of real complaints to the LSUC that need to be handled more efficiently. Clearly, we need to hire more investigators to get through the current backlog.

On a go forward basis, and we need to limit the number of new lawyers called to the Ontario Bar to allow us to manage the size of the profession and police it in a time appropriate manner.

We don’t need more lawyers right now. Let’s establish “One way to be Called”: graduate from a Canadian Law School, write the Bar Admission Course, Article and you’re in. This will reduce the number of new lawyers each year and ensure the public is protected.

I’ll be expanding on this idea of “One Way to Be Called” in future Blogs, but for now, come on LSUC – hire some more investigators, let’s protect the public!

Inga B. Andriessen JD