Diversity survey and Twitter Town Hall // Bencher Election Watch

The Bencher elections take to social media to talk about the issues

By Todd Harrison

On Thursday April 14th, 2011


photo by Oliver Mallich   There are a lot of bencher election–related emails circulating right now. Here’s some news from a couple of recent dispatches that caught our eye:

Results from a survey of bencher candidates about diversity, equity, and access to justice issues are rolling in, and being posted at www.benchersurvey.com [Ed. Note: No longer available]. This initiative was led by the Federation of Asian-Canadian Lawyers, in association with the OBA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, the South Asian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, and the Hispanic Ontario Lawyer Association.

Tomorrow, April 15, a Twitter Town Hall about the 2011 bencher election will begin at 9:30 a.m. Use the hashtag #bencher to participate in and follow the conversation. This is being organized by Monica Goyal — one of the participants in our survey of recently called bencher candidates. Suggested topics for discussion include:

  1. The competition bureau in Canada has completed a report questioning the competitiveness of the legal industry. A similar report in the UK led to the de-regulation of the industry. Do you think we could have a similar pronouncement in Canada? And are we slated to the same fate as in the UK?
  2. Australia, the U.K. and South Carolina are moving forward with alternative business structures. Do you support alternative business structures in Ontario? Why or why not?
  3. Legalzoom has announced its intention for an IPO.
    a) Many legal professionals feel that Legalzoom is not just a document production company, but is delivering legal advice.  What are your thoughts on this?  Are they treading a grey line?
    b) They are said to become the largest provider of legal services in the USA. Eventually, they will come to Canada; they have already partnered with incorporationcentre.ca. What impact do you think they will have on the profession? And what do you think we should do, if anything?
  4. How important is it for lawyers to have an online presence? And what steps can we take as a profession to bridge the growing gap between law and technology?
  5. What are your thoughts on the unbundling of legal services?
  6. Is the Law Society adequately dealing with innovative ways to deliver legal services? Is the Law Society itself being innovative enough? Richard Susskind’s The End of Lawyers has generated enormous interest amongst public policy-makers and strategic planners in law firms around the world. What is your view?
  7. @jbrink Query for #Bencher hopefuls: NY – $359/2 years; CA – $410/year; #LSUC – $2,017/year! Why are our fees so high?
  8. Should there be a cap on bencher election spending?

Photo by Oliver Mallich