Most responses to LSUC ABS proposals negative

At its monthly meeting of benchers last week, the Law Society of Upper Canada released an overview of the submissions it had received in response to its working paper on alternative business structures.

The overview lays out the wide-ranging perspectives the LSUC has received so far from the profession and other stakeholders on whether to let non-lawyers own law firms. It received more than 40 responses. And as the overview notes: “Many responses passionately expressed opposition to
any ABSs being introduced in Ontario.”

Many agreed with the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, which said the role of alternative business structures in fostering innovation is “overstated.” Others, like Cognition LLP, said alternative business structures would allow them to lock in capital more easily, thereby insulating firms from cash-flow troubles.

Still others conjured up a new concept, dubbed “ABS plus,” that the law society should be considering.

According to University of Ottawa Faculty of Law professor David Wiseman, new models will only have a “trickle-down” benefit for poor Ontarians who lack access to justice. That’s why he suggested the law society look into an enhanced version of alternative business structures.

The attached chart provides a quick overview of the responses received by the LSUC. Read more about it in this week’s Law Times.  All of the submissions are available on the law society's web site.

Update March 3: Chart updated to better reflect LawPRO's stance.

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