Acclaimed Law Society Treasurer creates task forces to focus on key issues for next term

TORONTO, June 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Janet E. Minor was acclaimed on June 25 as Treasurer of The Law Society of Upper Canada for a second term. Over the next 12 months, she plans to focus on key initiatives that further enhance the organization's regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the public interest.

New initiatives, as approved today by the Law Society's governing body, include the creation of task forces to address compliance-based entity regulation and mental health issues, as well as a roundtable for new licensees to discuss professional issues and Law Society initiatives.

"As the regulator of Ontario's legal professions, we continually examine and improve our regulatory and licensing processes to ensure we are using all available tools to protect the public," says Treasurer Minor. "These new initiatives are all designed to be responsive, forward-looking and inclusive."

Compliance-based Entity Regulation
The Compliance-based Entity Regulation Task Force will study a form of proactive regulation, which focuses on identifying professional practice obligations, such as procedures for dealing with conflicts or confidentiality and establishing a framework within which they can be proactively addressed, based on compliance measures.

Under this type of framework, the Law Society would also consider regulating law firms and entities where legal services are provided — in addition to regulating individual lawyers and paralegals.

"Evidence from other common law jurisdictions indicates that compliance-based regulation reduces complaints and improves ethical conduct," says the Treasurer. "Consulting with the professions on this issue in the coming months will be a critical component of this group's work."

The nine-member task force is expected to report back to Convocation by June 2016.

Mental Health and Wellness
Also tasked with making recommendations next spring is the 12-member Task Force to Create a Strategy to Promote Wellness and Address Mental Health.

"The Law Society is fully committed to fostering wellness in the legal professions. We have resources available, such as the Member Assistance Plan, but now, we want to develop a more comprehensive strategy that will provide a more targeted and proactive approach to mental health and addiction issues," says the Treasurer.

"Mental health and wellness are central to supporting the professional responsibility of lawyers and paralegals in serving the public. A strategy will enhance our effectiveness as the regulator," she says.

Engaging New Licensees
The New Licensee Roundtable will include a cross-section of lawyers and paralegals who are early in their careers. The group will meet regularly to have candid discussions on and give advice on professional issues of concern.

"We have much to gain from engaging with new licensees because of their different experiences and points of view," says the Treasurer. "The issues are complex and we need to hear as many different points of view as possible. This round table will give us the venue to do that."

Other Initiatives
As well, the Law Society is developing a renewed Aboriginal Strategy focused on reconciliation. The Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group plans to deliver a final report with recommendations in the fall. The Law Society will also continue to provide support to the work of TAG – The Action Group on Access to Justice. Work of the Mentoring Task Force will also continue, with a view to developing a proposal for an appropriate advisory and coaching service initiative.

"I'm very pleased to serve as Treasurer for a second term. This is an exciting time for the professions and the next several months will be busy as we move ahead to collaborate with and engage lawyers and paralegals on a number of important, key issues," says the Treasurer.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest.

SOURCE The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information: Media Contact: Susan Tonkin, 416-947-7605, stonkin@lsuc.on.ca, Communications Advisor - Media Relations - The Law Society of Upper Canada; Follow us on Twitter @LawsocietyLSUC

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