Ontario's New Law Society Tribunal

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Long title: 
An Independent Tribunal Within a Self-Governing Law Society: Ontario's New Law Society Tribunal
Author(s): 
Wright, David A.
Author(s)' contact information: 
David Wright Law Society Tribunal 130 Queen St W Toronto, ON M5H 2N6
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference
Conference location: 
London, UK
Country: 
Canada
Year: 
2014

In 2013, at the request of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Legislature of Ontario, Canada passed the Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act which establishes the Law Society Tribunal. This marks a significant change in the approach to hearing and deciding discipline, licensing and other regulatory matters involving lawyers and paralegals. Previously, benchers (governors) directed all aspects of the quasi-judicial hearing process and most adjudicators were benchers.

The approach to reform is based on the model of other administrative tribunals in Ontario, with some modifications in light of self-governance. The Law Society Tribunal is led by a non-bencher Chair and elected bencher Vice-Chairs appointed by the governors. Adjudicators include elected benchers and other lawyer, paralegal and lay members with adjudicative experience. The implementation of the model includes initiatives such as performance evaluation of adjudicators (including benchers), approaches to promoting consistency and increased professional development that have formed a key part of enhancing administrative justice in other boards and tribunals.

The presentation discusses the new model, the reasons for it, and its challenges. I will comment on the work done during the first months of the new Tribunal and the next steps in enhancing the quality, fairness and independence of quasi-judicial decision-making about regulation of lawyers and paralegals in Ontario.

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