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The Law Society of Upper Canada needs a new name, so let's help them choose it!

I have always found the Law Society of Upper Canada a bit of an anomaly, not so much because of its rumoured multimillion-dollar wine cellar but because of its name.

Where in Middle-earth is Upper Canada, anyway? Is it near the Shire or is it halfway between Gondor and Rivendell? Or is it closer to Mordor? Maybe it's near Tatooine? Or on Alderaan?

Well, all I know is that Upper Canada was the name given, in the mists of ancient time, to southern Ontario and Lower Canada was the name given to what is now the warmest part of Quebec. Perhaps those names had something to do with mythical swords, lakes and ladies. Or maybe Mad King George was otherwise preoccupied that day and could only think of calling modern-day Ontario "Upper" Canada and modern-day Quebec "Lower" Canada because that’s where the land was situated in relation to the St. Lawrence River.

As a political unit, Upper Canada was established in 1791 to deal with the influx of American refugees after their misguided revolutionary experiment and to allow these English-speaking Loyalists to be "maîtres chez nous," so to speak, in their own colony. Upper Canada ended with a thud in 1841, when the British Crown attempted to enforce the Durham Report and assimilate the French (ha!), merging Upper and Lower Canada to create a really bad 26-year marriage called the "United Province of Canada." It was replaced in 1867 by a really good divorce called "Canada" – a 150-year divorce that we are celebrating this year. I suppose you could say the breakup of the United Province of Canada and the creation of Canada as a federal state was an act of separatism!

But if Upper Canada was cast into the dustbin of history in 1841 (176 years ago), why on earth does the Law Society of Upper Canada still keep that name? And if the name "Upper Canada" is so wonderfully historic, why haven't other organizations (other than Upper Canada College, Upper Canada Soap and The Upper Canada Brewing Company) retained it?

When I did my undergraduate degree in the late 1970s, I did not go to the “University of Western Upper Canada” nor did I get my hydro bills from "Upper Canada Hydro" or watch Elwy Yost discuss movies on "TV Upper Canada."

The lyrics to A Place To Stand (Ontario Song) aren’t: "A place to stand, a place to grow, Upper-Upper-Upper-Upper-Canada" (even though it's probably catchier than the original).

I have been to legal conferences where my friends from the Law Society of Upper Canada have had to clarify that they are really from the province of Ontario, that Toronto is a world-class city with a baseball team and a subway (although it has never hosted an Olympics); that Upper Canada doesn't really exist anymore and that they are truly, madly and deeply sorry for confusing everyone other than those with Canadian history degrees. At one conference that I recently attended, they simply called themselves the Law Society of Ontario and totally ignored the words Upper Canada.

So, let's be frank. The Law Society of Upper Canada is in desperate need of a new name; perhaps something for the 20th century (or if they want to be really bold, something for the 21st).

They most certainly need a new acronym. There’s something about "LSUC" that is off-message and doesn't work.

As I have been responsible for the names of at least seven restaurants in Vancouver, I offer my assistance in the LSUC's rebranding, and I invite other readers to contribute their thoughts as well. I'd like everyone who's reading this to come up with a new name to replace the Law Society of Upper Canada. The rules are that it has to be respectful and it has to have a far politer acronym than the current one.

A new name for the regulator of the legal profession in Ontario is a major undertaking, not only because the name has to be historically and geographically up to date (so as not to confuse the rest of the world) but because the benchers have to make sure they don't make a boo-boo with the acronym.

Perhaps the worst acronym in history is the Washington Public Power Supply System, which goes by the name WPPSS. When you pronounce the acronym, it sounds like "whoops," which is not what you want the organization that owns and operates your nuclear reactors and stores your plutonium to be called.

Likewise, the Wisconsin Tourism Federation changed its name when it finally figured out what the acronym WTF really meant.

As if it happened in an episode of Veep, when the Progressive Conservatives, the Canadian Alliance and the Reform Party merged in 2000 to create the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, somebody discovered the acronym — CCRAP — a day after the announcement. Needless to say, it was changed.

Thus, if the Law Society of Upper Canada were rebranded as the Ontario Law Society, the acronym OLS might confuse people with a religious organization called Our Lady of Sorrows, which is not the nickname by which you want your regulator to be known.

The "Law Society of Ontario" isn't a bad choice, although its acronym is confusingly similar to the one used by the London Symphony Orchestra (as well as the other LSO acronyms that you can find here). It would be problematic if mail from licensees ended up being sent to the Symphony's French horn section instead of the Law Society's offices in Toronto.

My vote goes to the Legal Commission of Barristers of Ontario. Although that name ignores solicitors, that's to be expected because barristers always ignore solicitors. Moreover, the name has a catchy but remotely familiar acronym. But I haven't lived in Ontario for a long time, so I can't quite remember what LCBO could possibly mean. Nothing bad, I expect.

In any event, if you have a better idea than OLS, LSO or LCBO, please provide your comment below. I don't speak for them, but I'm sure the executive director of the LSUC would send you a coffee mug with the new brand on it.

  • Ms.

    Susan M
    The Ontario Commission of Licensed Law Practitioners (OCLLP)

    The Ontario Society of Licensed Law Practitioners (OSLLP)

    The Ontario Commission of Solicitors, Barristers and Paralegals (OCSBP)

    Licensed Law Practitioners of the Province of Ontario (LLP PO)

    The Ontario Society of Benchers, Lawyers and Paralegals (OSBLP)

    The Ontario Commission of Legal Advocates for Truth, Justice and Social Wellbeing (OCLA-TJSW)
  • Legislative Counsel

    Doug Ward
    I've had a number of dealings with the Law Society over the years and, in my view, LSUC is the perfect acronym.
  • Mr.

    howard W
    Why bother changing things? LSUC is as good as it is.
  • Retired

    Anna Zachariah
    Total agreement. I believe there have been various attempts to change the name. The Law Society of Ontario would be easily searchable and analogous to other Canadian societies. Maybe a change to takes place in 2020 to give time for logo etc changes??
  • Esq.

    S.R. Simon
    Other unfortunate acronyms include the South Houston Industrial Terminal, the Anthony Scalia Law School, and "Samuel A Alito," which is itself an anagram for "I AM A SELLOUT."
  • Mr.

    Edward Woods
    Hahaha, good one. Ignoring Solicitors. Except the truth also ignores the other licensees, you know, the one who died the "Actual" grunt work..... Paralegals.

    My 2 cents :)
  • Lawyer

    Igor Ellyn
    LAw Society of Ontario is the only one that makes any sense,. We've has a weird name for years, why have another one?
  • Lawyer

    Igor Ellyn
    The Law Society of Ontario is the only one that makes any sense to me.
  • Mr.

    Thomas Harrison
    The 'barristers' suggestion not only ignores solicitors, but paralegals too. Ontario Law Society is simplest, just use ON as in ONLS to distingush it from other acronyms. Love the tradition of the older name, but also believe it should be changed now to symbolize how the profession is looking forward rather that 176 years into the past.
  • Consistent

    Hobb Goblin
    While we're at it, British Columbia needs a new name. It is neither British nor Columbian.
  • lawyer

    Marg McKillop
    I like the current name and see no reason to change it- the initials are great too- LSUC!
  • Sole Practitioner

    Keith Lee-Whiting
    This is truly a stupid humor column from someone who thinks he is a great humorist. For someone who lives in BRITISH Columbia, he should learn that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Academics should leave alone what us practitioners find fine, thank you very much and leave humor to those who are funny for a living. One of the many advantages of the name is it strikes a note of fear in potential miscreants who want to cheat their clients. It also makes us less like the Americans, which is a good thing.
  • Ms

    Bobbi Lewin
    Ontario Bar Association
  • Keep the name

    Joel Hertz
    No need to change.
    Lawyers should be able to figure out what Upper Canada is.
    Is nothing sacred?
    Must everything change?
    There are so few historical manes left.
    Maybe I am just an old fogie.
  • Lawyer

    Rob Kozak
    Very entertaining article; bravo!
  • Lawyer

    Michael Balter
    Mark this down as another vote for "Law Society of Upper Canada" though willing to consider "A Law Society..." or "The Law Society..."

    This is just another example of how people with too much time on their hands make issues out of nothing. Come on LSUC, work on something that matters.
  • Mr.

    Harry Blaier
    I agree with Malcolm Graham. I too like the name Law Society of Upper Canada. However, if we really feel compelled to change it, I understand that Pink Floyd might be available.
  • Lawyer

    Julian Dudley
  • Lawyer

    Malcolm Graham
    I like the name Law Society of Upper Canada and sent this email to make sure that there does not appear to be some ground swell for a different name. I don't find any of Mr. Wilson's reasons particularly compelling.
  • partner and Ontario lawyer

    george vassos
    OLPA --- Ontario Lawyers' Professional Association
    OLGB --- Ontario Lawyers' Governing Body
    OLPGB -- Ontario Lawyers' Professional Governing Body
    COL --- College of Ontario Lawyers
    OL --- Ontario Lawyers

    p.s we have 6 kids so we need 8 mugs. thanks.