Candidates in Law Society election want to improve public view of profession
By Faisal Kutty — The province’s 29,724 lawyers are to elect 40 colleagues as benchers of their governing body tomorrow. Eighty-five candidates — down from the 122 in the 1995 contest — are vying to run the Law Society.
Some of the new faces include academics Marilyn Pilkington, former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School; Sanda Rodgers, dean of the University of Ottawa Law School; litigators Earl Cherniak and Julian Porter; Bill Simpson and Igor Ellyn, former presidents of Canadian Bar Association (Ontario); former MPP Leonard A. Braithwaite; Francis Roy’s defence lawyer Todd Ducharme; and immigration expert Frank Marrocco.
They are competing with 30 incumbents including Elvio L. DelZotto, Nancy Backhouse, Bob Aaron, Ronald Manes, Robert Martin, and Clayton Ruby. Surprisingly, sitting benchers, Mary Eberts, Phil Epstein, David Scott, and the current treasurer Harvey Strosberg are not contesting.
Twenty benchers will be elected from outside Toronto, while the other 20 will be from the city.
Unlike the previous race, in which finances and insurance were the pressing concerns, candidates have focused on the public’s confidence in and image of the profession; what the role and focus of the Law Society should be; whether benchers should be remunerated — presently they’re not; merger of law associations to better represent lawyers; bar admissions-course reforms; the profession’s growth — a 30% increase in lawyers between 1991 and 1997; and how to deal with and regulate the proliferation of paralegals.
Interestingly, even as diversity is an issue, only 21 women and 7 visible minorities are in the running.
The new benchers will have to give serious consideration to diversity given the recent findings of the Canadian Bar Association that a racial bar clearly exists.
Avy Yao-Yao Go, executive director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, says she is running to ensure that the governing body is more reflective.
According to the CBA’s working group on racial equality in the legal profession, minorities are under-represented by 47% in the profession, while white women are even more grossly under-represented.
Ironically, getting into the field may not be as big a problem as staying in.
Both women and minorities leave the profession in much greater numbers.
Story Type: News
Length: 358 words
Keywords: LAWYERS; ELECTION; ONTARIO
Company: Law Society of Upper Canada
Note: First Published: Thursday, April 29, 1999 in The National Post
Byline: Faisal Kutty
Column: Law and Order
Source: National Post
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/yfux2em