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Opinion: Legal professions should protect the public, not themselves

By Andrew Spurgeon, Coalition candidate and Bencher

The legal professions exist to protect others – not themselves. Our vocation is ensuring justice and fairness for all, and enforcing the rules and laws that govern our affairs apply in such a way that our fellow citizens are not harmed by others who would exercise power over them arbitrarily.

The first order of business for any professional regulator (including our own) is ensuring that the members of that profession understand it is the public and the client who come first – not them. To that end, the rules of professionalism must be upheld and asserted; for it is those rules which at their core, are designed to make the professional a fiduciary of the client – namely, putting the client’s interest ahead of his or her own.

This concept of being a fiduciary – specifically the need to treat other people especially people who may not look like, sound like, or think like you – was the guiding logic behind the much-debated, and very much dead, Statement of Principles in the lead-up to the last Bencher election in 2019.

Rhetoric from some who objected to the Statement of Principles was histrionic. From others it was measured, constructive and thoughtful. The debate occurred; the matter was resolved and the issue is decided. And so it’s worth repeating: the Statement of Principles is dead. No one is interested in reviving that issue – except its opponents: the FullStop Slate, which, given that this year’s Bencher election is fast approaching, wish to flog that dead horse again.

It argues that an initiative the LSO’s Professional Regulation Committee currently has out for consultation – to give the LSO’s Proceedings Advisory Committee the ability to impose a remediation order on a licensee requiring them to clean up their practice without initiating full-blown discipline proceedings against them is a grievous act of thought control.

The real goal of this initiative is to help our colleagues who have complaints against them and are struggling with their practices, or in keeping proper records and accounts, to get their practices in order without facing a discipline Tribunal Hearing. This would save the licensee an embarrassing charge of professional misconduct and the Law Society the cost of prosecuting that licensee.

Some members of the slate equate the LSO requiring licensees to learn how to do a better job of accounting and keep better records of your clients’ money as an opportunity for “woke indoctrination”. Nothing can be further from the truth. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The Law Society’s Professional Regulation Committee just wants its members to keep good records and accounts; provide good service to their clients and get fewer complaints from the public.

If all this can be done, the Law Society can protect the public better, save some money and perhaps reduce your fees. All of which are desirable.

It is time to put aside the ideological paranoia of the slate and instead elect folks to Convocation who have a proven history of commitment to the profession and are experienced leaders who value a moderate, pragmatic approach. For an approach that will protect lawyers’ and paralegals’ ability to self-regulate, which should not be taken for granted, vote for the members of the Bencher Good Governance Coalition.

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Thank you!

The Good Governance Coalition is honoured and grateful for the support of lawyers and paralegals from across Ontario. We will take our fiduciary responsibilities seriously, value respectful debate, an


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