LeSage’s Bencher Platform
LSO – It’s Time for a Change
Faced with an ineffectual MAG, bottlenecks within the Courts, having called too many lawyers to the bar, and having failed to adapt to technological change, Convocation debates whether it prefers tea over crumpets. More pressing issues include:
- Inefficiency: The LSO has failed to embrace simple cost saving technologies (i.e. e-filing and online viewing and service of legal documents), at a cost to lawyers and the public. In 2019, should we really have to pay process servers to walk documents to court?
- Civil Expenses: Increasingly, the time and expense necessary to prosecute cases outweighs expected returns, (i.e. most medical malpractice claims, chronic pain in auto cases, accident benefits), resulting in a loss to lawyers, the public and justice writ large. How many times have you had to turn away clients over the last several years due to issues like these?
- Too Many Lawyers: Despite stagnant or declining demand for legal services (and with the number of lawyers in small firm private practice declining significantly in Ontario) , the LSO continues to license more lawyers (currently more than 52,000 plus 8,600 paralegals) and accredit more law schools (Lakehead, soon Ryerson and Trinity Western). Has the public suddenly started placing a higher value on paying for legal services?
- LSO Fees: Our annual fees of $2,183.00 are higher than doctors ($1,725.00), dentists ($200.00), nurses ($226.00) and teachers ($150.00). Are our wages and benefits? Note that doctors get their insurance premiums paid for by the government.
- Poor Judgment. The LSO recently advocated for Alternative Business Structures (ABS) and expanded the scope of paralegal practice into Family Law. Do you have faith in their attempt to tackle contingency fee reform, or other important issues facing the profession?
What have I done to help Ontario Lawyers to date?
In an effort to help my (and other lawyers’) law offices on a daily basis, I have posted the following resources on my website, that may be of use to other lawyers:
- My summary of civil discovery rules, as included in The Oatley McLeish Guide to Motor Vehicle Litigation, available here;
- My trial reference manual, Chapter 3 of the Oatley-McLeish Guide to Personal Injury Practice in Motor Vehicle Cases, available here.
- Instructions on scheduling a civil motion, available here
- A quick reference chart of common civil filing fees, available here
- Opening Remarks along with 2 sample closing charges (jury instructions), available here and here
- Several annuity calculators (under Resources), which may be of use to firms handling long term disability claims, or otherwise seeking to quickly approximate the present value of a future stream of payments
- While not posted on my site, I obtained from the MAG the internal Superior Court of Justice Civil Procedures Manual, which provides under Rule 2 “Staff should not refuse to accept a document due to non-compliance with the Rules or the Courts of Justice Act. A failure to comply with the Rules or a statutory requirement is a matter for the parties to raise and for the court to determine.” In my experience, staff seldom follows this rule.
- I spearheaded a motion that was brought at the 2017 AGM, in opposition to the Law Society’s proposal to allow paralegals to dabble in family law;
- I created the www.Courtdoxx.com law firm automation software package, designed to automate the completion of routine legal documents, such as letters, pleadings, motions etc.
- I will push common sense solutions, such as using technology to allow lawyers to save time and money, along with belt tightening at the LSO and tougher bar exams.
- I will push to keep bad ideas from Convocation at Convocation. When Convocation comes up with another bad idea (ABS, the further expansion of paralegal practice without addressing the underlying problems), I will push hard for further committee study, further discussions, further debate, and weigh in on the enduring tea and crumpets controversy, doubtless evoking fiery Bencher passions and returning the discussion to crumpets once more.