Henry Chang for BencherApril 6, 2015
I have been practicing law in the Province of Ontario for approximately 23 years. During this time I have had an opportunity to work as a sole practitioner, a partner in a small law firm, and finally a partner at Blaney McMurtry LLP, a firm of 100+ lawyers. I believe that this broad range of professional experiences has helped me to better understand the needs of the membership as a whole.
I made the decision to run in this year’s Bencher Election because I believe that the Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) can do much more to promote the interests of its members. The LSUC may believe that its sole mandate is to protect the public interest rather than the interests of its members but these objectives are not mutually exclusive.
While protecting the public interest should always be the LSUC’s primary objective, this should not prevent it from promoting the interests of the membership as well, as long as those interests do not conflict with the public interest. In the majority of cases, the interests of the membership and the public interest will be aligned. Of course, where there is a conflict, the public interest should prevail.
In terms of protecting the public interest, I believe that the LSUC can do better. It needs to prioritize its enforcement activities to focus on the worst violators, including non-members who engage in the unauthorized practice of law. If required, the LSUC should reallocate its limited resources to these serious cases and away from minor cases involving technical violations. By taking visible steps to discipline members who commit serious violations and to pursue non-members who endanger the public by engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, the LSUC will help to re-build the reputation of the legal profession.
I also believe in regulation that serves the public interest, but not in regulation for the sake of regulation. Regulations that cannot be justified in the public interest impose an unnecessary burden on the membership, especially those in smaller law firms. Members who work as sole practitioners or in small law firms must constantly balance the competing time demands of managing a law practice and actually practicing law; they may also be more sensitive to increased administrative/compliance costs. The LSUC should try to find ways to reduce these unjustified administrative burdens and to lower compliance costs for the membership.
Finally, I support the promotion of diversity by building awareness in the legal profession (perhaps through a diversity-related CPD requirement) and by providing mentor support to younger racialized members. However, I do not necessarily favour imposing formal diversity obligations on the membership.
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