Decoding the bencher elections // Editor's Note

Melissa Kluger, editor, Precedent magazine
Precedent staffers tackle both a magazine redesign and the baffling jargon of the bencher elections

By Melissa Kluger

On Tuesday March 10th, 2015


Every time someone joins our staff, they get a vocabulary lesson. Most people on the Precedent team are not lawyers — they bring other skill sets, like marketing, editing, writing and design, and then learn the law part when they walk in the door. It’s a smart group of people, but there are aspects of legal reporting that are indecipherable to an outsider. And now that it’s bencher election season, our language is at its most obtuse. Case in point: We are electing benchers to lead the Law Society of Upper Canada. They will meet once a month under the leadership of the treasurer at Convocation.

It’s like a secret code. And so I explain: Well, a “bencher” is an elected representative. The “Law Society of Upper Canada” is really the Law Society of Ontario. “Convocation” is a meeting. And the “treasurer” is really the president. Ah, now it makes sense.

It’s not just language that makes the profession’s self-governing body inaccessible. As you’ll read in our coverage of the 2015 bencher elections, getting elected as a bencher can be pretty inaccessible, too. Running a campaign can be expensive and it’s tough to win without the support of a big firm. And yet, it’s in our best interest that Convocation represent the diversity of the profession. Not only when it comes to area of practice (right now almost half of all benchers are litigators), or gender (60 percent are men), but also when it comes to age. Today, only two out of 40 benchers are under the age of 50.

Over the next four years, benchers will have to decide whether to continue the Law Practice Program, and discussion will be heated about whether to allow alternative business structures in Ontario. With so much future-thinking on the docket, it would be nice to see some younger lawyers leading the discussion.

Of course, Convocation isn’t the only place where you can be a leader in law. In this issue, you’ll meet more than a dozen productive lawyers who excel at their careers and manage to fit the rest of their lives into their busy days. See our feature story “Making it work.” I promise you, you’ll be blown away by these amazing role models.

While the lawyers we’ve featured are awesome all on their own, you might notice they look especially great in this particular issue: Precedent has undergone a redesign. We’ve changed our fonts, updated our style and added new departments. We make this magazine just for you. We want to be sure that we continue to both inform and delight. I hope you agree that Precedent looks better than ever. Thank you to my dedicated staff (who now can discuss “benchers” and “Convocation” with the best of them) for working so hard to bring us something so clever and beautiful.





Melissa Kluger
Publisher & Editor


Post Script: My secret productivity weapons

Metropass by mail

Every month, the TTC debits my account and mails me my pass. Even when I don’t get my money’s worth in terms of cost-per-ride, it’s worth it for the convenience.

OurGroceries iPhone app

This brilliant app lets you sort your grocery list by area of the store. Plus, you can keep recipes on your phone and add the ingredients to your list with the touch of a button.

Uber everywhere

The taxi app with estimated pick-up times, automatic billing (tip included) and, best of all, professional invoices. No more of those pesky blank receipts.

More from the spring issue:

Angela ChaissonEdible Witness by Jeannie PhanJesse Razaqpur secret lifeEmma Gregg House CallHarvey Specter suits wardrobe