Annual
Report


EXPLORE REPORT

Message from
the Treasurer

Making a difference, in the public interest

The Law Society plays an important role as the regulator of the legal professions in protecting the public interest, upholding the rule of law and the cause of justice and facilitating access to justice. We carry out this mandate while navigating the evolving legal landscape and working with justice system stakeholders. The work of the Law Society and legal professions benefits our communities, makes an important difference to the people we serve and contributes to the greater public good.

In 2018, we completed a number of key priorities set out in the 2015-2019 strategic plan. These achievements advance our public interest mandate while laying the groundwork for our next strategic plan, which will be established under the direction of our newly elected board.

Significantly, in 2018, we reached a conclusion on the way forward in lawyer licensing, following a comprehensive two-year review. Competence is an integral part of our mandate and it is essential that we continue to find ways to enhance it by now moving our focus from licensing requirements to post-call competence.

We also continued to collaborate with justice partners to address access to justice challenges. This included our work to assist people with legal and other needs by enabling lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through registered civil society organizations – such as charities and not-for-profit agencies, to the clients of those entities. This is an innovative approach that we hope will help people who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal assistance.

At the Law Society, we recognize that First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples face unique challenges. This past year, we continued to work with our Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee and the Indigenous Advisory Group to improve our services and enhance access. We adopted recommendations from the Review Panel to make the regulatory and hearing processes more culturally competent and safe for Indigenous Peoples. This is important work as we seek to foster deeper understanding and promote inclusion within, and access to, the legal system.

I’m proud of what we have accomplished in the last 12 months and look forward to focusing on both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead – including those posed by new technologies. That is why we struck a new task force last summer to look at how to appropriately consider public protection and the potential for enhanced legal services that comes with new technologies. The task force has been engaging with experts, the professions and the public as we address potentially transformative innovation.

So, the road ahead is an exciting one and I extend my thanks to the benchers, our CEO Diana Miles and the Law Society management and staff for their hard work and dedication, ensuring that we continue together on a course that is principled, thoughtful and forward-looking. We have achieved what we set out to do with our 2015-2019 strategic plan. With newly elected benchers and new ideas, it is time to forge ahead again.

— Malcolm M. Mercer, Treasurer

Message
from the CEO

Achieving success through greater alignment

My first full year as CEO of the Law Society was exciting and challenging. While the Law Society continued to implement policies to achieve the board’s strategic priorities, operationally we focused on building greater alignment across all our divisions.

To achieve this, the Senior Management Executive and I worked to improve cross-functional interactions and information exchange, and enhance clarity around our common objectives. I would like to highlight, in particular, the work of the Policy and Professional Regulation divisions, which both completed significant reorganizations over the last year.

In addition to the considerable progress made operationally in 2018, I am pleased to report that implementation of the strategic priorities set by our board for the 2015-2019 bencher term are near completion.

In a culmination of our efforts to better engage stakeholders, we adopted a modern logo reflecting our new name, and rolled out the first stage of a public awareness campaign, Our Society is Your Society, to build recognition and understanding of the Law Society.

Another major undertaking was the ongoing operationalization of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiative. This historic initiative involves implementing 13 strategies aimed at breaking down the barriers faced by racialized licensees.

We also completed the Dialogue on Licensing, one of the Law Society’s most ambitious consultative efforts, which led to the adoption of a series of recommendations to enhance the lawyer licensing process.

Implementation of these recommendations will be a major focus in the coming months, along with the ongoing development of the new family law licensing framework. A component of the Family Law Action Plan, the new licensing framework will help improve access to justice for Ontario’s families by permitting appropriately licensed paralegals and others to provide certain family legal services.

The leadership of Treasurer Malcolm Mercer and our benchers has enabled the many accomplishments of the last year. I thank the board and my team at the Law Society for their dedication.

I look forward to working with our new board in developing strategic objectives for the next four years that will solidify our alignment efforts and better position the Law Society to serve the public and regulate and support our licensees.

—Diana Miles, Chief Executive Officer

At a
Glance

2,400
lawyers and

900
paralegals
licensed in 2018

Membership:
53,700
lawyers and
9,000
paralegals

36,000
lawyers
practising law and
3,600
paralegals providing
legal services

4,200
complaints referred
to Professional
Regulation Division

47%
of complaints in Professional
Regulation were about
service issues

132
Discipline
Notices
issued

Our
Mandate

The Law Society of Ontario (Law Society) governs the legal professions in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct.

In fulfilling its regulatory mandate, the Law Society observes principles that encompass a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.


Strategic Priorities for
2015-2019

Following the election of a new board (known as Convocation) in 2015, the Law Society developed a strategic plan with five key priorities:

  • 1 Lead as a professional regulator
  • 2 Prioritize life-long competence for lawyers and paralegals
  • 3 Enhance access to justice across Ontario
  • 4 Engage stakeholders and the public with responsive communications
  • 5 Increase organizational effectiveness

Strategic
Initiatives

Over the past four years, we have pursued these five priorities by undertaking a number of key initiatives that support them and have made great progress in advancing these goals. You can read about our most recent accomplishments – what we have done and why it is important – in the strategic initiatives section below.

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Financial
Statements

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Board
Membership

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Statistics

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