Monday, 04 March 2013 08:00 Written by Jim Middlemiss
Last month, the Ontario Bar Association launched a public relations campaign aimed at improving the image of lawyers. I, like many others, actually found out about the campaign through an article in the Globe and Mail. So I went to the OBA’s web site and despite my fairly strong research skills, was unable to find even a single word about it — no link, no press release, nothing, at least not on the public parts of the site. A few lawyer colleagues I spoke to had done the same thing and come up empty as well. Turns out, the OBA has created a micro site, whyiwenttolawschool.ca, which gives lots of details about the plan.
|Illustration: Dushan Milic|
I’ve written a lot in these pages about the issues of diversity and equality — much of it directly related to maintaining the number of women in the legal profession. But inequality in the law goes much further.
Monday, 07 January 2013 08:00 Written by Neill May
This month’s cover story looks at the thorny issue of how discipline is doled out in the profession. There will continue to be disagreement over whether certain members of the bar are treated differently than others, but it is fairly undisputable that small firm and sole practitioners end up in the crosshairs of regulators more often than big firm, government, or in-house lawyers. One of the most controversial discipline proceedings in recent memory is that of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s prosecution of Joseph Groia for incivility, the details of which are covered in the article “Discipline dichotomy.”
|Image: Jacqui Oakley|
As we go to press, the Law Society of Upper Canada has decided to put off a debate and vote on the future of articling in Ontario. In mid-October, the LSUC finally released its long-awaited task force report on the future of articling. The issue is so divisive and challenging even the task force could not agree on a single course of action to recommend to Convocation to vote on.
Last month, the Access Pro Bono Society of B.C. organized Pro Bono Going Public, a free legal advice-a-thon with volunteer lawyers doling out legal advice in several local parks to those unable to afford legal services. The now-annual B.C. event is one of many pro bono activities running across the country. Pro bono legal work has become widespread, from Big Law to law school, and it’s a great way for lawyers to give back as well as get the chance to practise types of law they may not otherwise be involved in. All of this is good.
For this month’s cover story, we convened a panel of experts on law firm management with representatives from firms of different shapes and sizes as well as lawyers and non-lawyers. We gathered in Toronto in late June to discuss the hottest topics — vexing issues, even — on the minds of law firm leaders. Some of them resonated across all the firms, including that of transparency within the firm. Law firms are partnerships and one thing everyone at the table agreed on was the need for openness, particularly the sharing of financial information and strategies. That doesn’t mean everyone has to know how much everyone else makes, but being open about how it works so everyone from articling students to senior partners feel they understand the system, where they fit into it, and what to expect.