Danger faced by essential county law libraries underlines need for good governance at the LSO
Toronto—The Good Governance Coalition today said the debate surrounding the Law Society of Ontario’s $100-million-budget underlines the need for good governance to return to Convocation.
Six months into the budget’s formulation, Benchers who were elected as part of the slate in the last election proposed to freeze most fees—which would likely have led to severe cuts in funding to essential county law libraries across Ontario had their motion succeeded.
“Formulating and passing a realistic, fiscally-responsible budget is core to a Bencher’s fiduciary duty,” said Bencher Andrew Spurgeon, seeking re-election as a Coalition candidate. “Endangering county law libraries and delaying passage of the budget for the sake of talking points in the next election is regrettable and beneath what lawyers and paralegals expect.”
At Thursday’s meeting of Convocation, two slate Benchers, Cheryl Lean and Chi-Kun Shi, unsuccessfully moved to freeze all fees aside from a necessary top-up to the compensation fund and delay passing the budget until December. Had their motion passed, it would have eliminated a proposed $17 increase to the levy paid to the Legal Information Network of Ontario (LIRN), which funds law libraries.
“County law libraries are one of the most valuable services the LSO provides to lawyers,” said Spurgeon. “They allow access to resources many lawyers could not otherwise afford and are essential hubs for the legal community, especially in smaller and rural centres. We deserve Benchers who support the LSO’s important services and understand the value of sound budgeting—and by voting for Coalition candidates, that’s what we’ll get.”
The Federation of Ontario Law Associations has written Benchers, stating it is “imperative” that Convocation deliver “sustainable funding” to the 48 law libraries across the province.