A leader to improve our legal system
TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Our legal system needs disruptive innovation, March 11
March 14, 2017.
Law Society treasurer Paul Schabas correctly indicates that the body he heads exists “to act in the public interest.” If there ever was a treasurer who could make self-regulation produce enhanced access that person would be Paul Schabas. The simple fact is that he cannot, for the reason pointed out by Martin Regg Cohn that the membership of the Law Society are all in a conflict of interest on the proposal made by Annemarie Bonkalo.
Whether because they honestly believe clients require the services of a lawyer or out of naked self-interest, the lawyers of Ontario will not authorize Schabas to increase the number of bread-and-butter practice areas like real estate, family, estates and criminal law, in which lawyers must compete with paralegals. Their howls of protest should not be allowed to drown out the realization that maintaining the status quo means a large and increasing number of people are going to court unrepresented.
When demanding relief, those being denied access to justice must look beyond lawyers and judges and turn instead to the provincial government. In addition to expanding the role of paralegals, the government could transfer many basic legal issues such as employment and motor vehicle claims from the courts to speedier and more efficient administrative tribunals. It could review legislation to reduce reliance on lawyers altogether through proven innovations such as expanding no- fault compensation for accident victims and installing default safeguards in real estate and testamentary transactions.
To find a leader for such a process the premier need look no further than her own back benches. Recently elected MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers has headed the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Law Reform Commission of Canada, and was the dean of a leading law school. It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified to lead the visionary process of disruptive innovation our legal system so desperately needs.
David Baker, Toronto