Should Lakehead University have a law school? Should the Law Society of Upper Canada base its member fees on income?
Those were among some of the questions during a virtual town hall session for candidates in the upcoming Law Society of Upper Canada bencher elections this afternoon.
The third in a series of town halls included Toronto candidates Monica Goyal and Mitch Kowalski as well as sitting bencher Susan Hare from Manitoulin Island, Ont. This third session, which I moderated, focused on the future of law and articling, and included two additional speakers with interest in the area: Catherine McKenna of Canadian Lawyers Abroad and articling student Omar Ha-Redeye.
For her part, Goyal touched on issues specific to young lawyers, including law society fees, LawPRO rates, continuing legal education requirements, work-life balance, and the availability of articling positions. Responding to a question from the audience on the wisdom of establishing a new law school at Lakehead University, Goyal said there wasn't an easy answer given the shortage of articling positions.
Kowalski echoed that concern. "I cannot support a new law school unless we get articling sorted out." he said.
"We have to revisit the articling program.”
Hare, however, said she "wholeheartedly supports" the idea of a law school at Lakehead, something she argued would address the diversity and innovation issues the law profession is currently dealing with. Hare also spoke about the need for better mentoring programs for young lawyers.
In addition, the panellists considered the issue of having older and more established lawyers pay more to the LSUC to reduce the fee burden for their younger counterparts.
For her part, Hare emphasized that the regulator needs the fees it collects to carry out its mandate. Kowalski, however, called for a freeze in fees along with some consideration for people's ability to pay. He mentioned the idea of basing fees on income given his view that it would be "more palatable that lawyers making tons of money will pay a higher fee because they can afford it.”