After two-and-a-half years as Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Gavin MacKenzie recently passed the torch to WeirFoulds LLP partner Derry Millar. MacKenzie will now focus on his law practice at Heenan Blaikie LLP, where he specializes in professional liability and discipline litigation.
What’s it like returning to your practice full-time?
It’s great. This is really the first time that I’ve been practicing full-time for a number of years without Law Society responsibilities. Although my term as treasurer was for two-and-a-half years, there was about 11 years before that that I was a bencher.
What do you plan to do with all your extra time?
Whether I have extra time remains to be seen. I’m expecting my practice will be busy. But even when I was serving as treasurer I was able to devote time to other interests. I ran the Boston Marathon three times when I was treasurer. So keeping my distance running up was a great way to stay healthy and deal with stress during my term and I’m certainly keeping that up now that I’ve returned to practice. I’ve also agreed to serve as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall law school.
A lot has happened in the two years that you were treasurer. What would you say was your biggest achievement?
I think one [initiative] that really stands out was the work of our task force on retention of women in private practice … I think the proposals that the group made, which were adopted by Convocation, were really very inventive — both for large firms and perhaps even more importantly for small firm lawyers and sole practitioners, particularly outside the metropolitan areas.
Will you be helping to implement some of those proposals at Heenan Blaikie?
Yes. Heenan Blaikie, along with most other major firms, is a signatory to the Justicia Project and will be implementing the recommendations of the taskforce as adopted by Convocation.
During your term, there was also a proposal to cancel articling. Why did you think this was a bad idea?
My own view is that we should retain articling. I’m confident that we will. Articling was an invaluable part of my legal education … With increased numbers of applicants, and the possibility of a declining economy, what we really should be focusing on is whether there can be alternatives to articling for those students who aren’t offered positions.