Law Times

January 14, 2019

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Page 2 January 14, 2019 • Law Times Gluckstein says the OTLA, for one, does want this proposal to go forward to fill a void in the legal services landscape. But one suggestion from the OTLA — echoed in the orga- nization's 2017 submissions to the LSO — is that a fourth prin- ciple be added to the proposed regulations, so that "the [Civil Society Organization] cannot directly or indirectly charge any fee from clients in respect of any legal service provided by the CSO to them through its embedded licensees, nor can the CSO take any fee or receive any donation directly or indi- rectly for referring any matter to a licensee not employed by the CSO." A statement on behalf of Ron Bohm, president of the OTLA, said the association "did respond to the LSO submitting that we could support the proposal with CSO's as long as there was no conf lict of interest through refer- rals to private for-profit firms." "Therefore, the CSO should not be charging a fee directly or indirectly through its embed- ded licensees or take any fee or receive any donation directly or indirectly for referring any mat- ter to a licensee not employed by the CSO," said the statement. "We also wanted to ensure that the solicitor-client privilege is protected through the licensee working in the CSO multidisci- plinary setting with these vul- nerable clients. We felt satisfied by the most recent proposal from LSO that this would be the case and therefore we supported the initiative." Michael Lesage, a Toronto sole practitioner at Michael's Law Firm who is running to be a bencher, says that that access to justice issues are exacerbated not by a lack of lawyers, per say, but by lengthy procedures required by the rules of the justice system. Adding more types of busi- nesses to employ more lawyers could glut the market with legal services and drive prices down, deterring competent candidates from entering the profession, Lesage says. "It's a much greater risk of making the situation worse rath- er than better," says Lesage. Rebecca Bromwich, a lawyer who is running for bencher and who is program director for the graduate diploma in conf lict resolution program at Carleton University, says she is aware some lawyers feel that allowing alternative business structures at all is a "slippery slope." But, she says, the proposal that's on the table now is quite controlled, narrow and thoughtful. "[W]e have to do better at connecting the supply and de- mand in a sensible way," says Bromwich. Tania Perlin is a bencher can- didate and a Thornhill, Ont. sole practitioner who also practices across the greater Toronto area. She says she has seen these issues first-hand in family court. "Having represented in fam- ily court women with high-con- f lict divorces, they may have had to live in shelters at some point. They need access to lawyers but they are not always [able to have] access to that," says Perlin. A public consultation on regulations for civil service or- ganizations to provide legal ser- vices ends Jan. 18, and the next step in the process is for the Oct. 25, 2018 report, from the law society's alternative business structures working group, to go before Convocation this spring, says Susan Tonkin, communica- tions advisor at the LSO. LT first iteration. Other, more corporate imple- mentations of alternative busi- ness structures may not get the same level of support, he says. "We really do support [the cur- rent proposal]," says Gluckstein. "The concern we have is that the issue of ABS is not put to bed. We do think it is going to keep knock- ing on the door to expand." The Law Society of Ontario currently allows a few key law- yer- and paralegal-owned busi- ness structures in the province: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, and multidisciplinary practice, ac- cording to the law society's 2014 discussion paper on the topic. So-called alternative business structures provide expanded options for business structures, such as equity financing by non- lawyers or non-paralegals, firms offering both legal and non-legal services, and firms offering le- gal tech solutions, the discus- sion paper said. The proposal currently under consideration, however, is specific to civil soci- ety organizations, defined by the law society as including chari- ties and not-for-profit organiza- tions, as approved in principle by Convocation in 2017. In particular, the October 2018 report suggests in more detail a registration process for civil societies, rule changes to the rules of conduct for lawyers and paralegals, a ban on charg- ing clients or accepting referral fees through a civil society, and setting a professional liability insurance requirements, among other options. A civil society that employs lawyers, for instance, would apply to LAWPRO as a "desig- nated agency," which would give lawyers employed by the civil society a 75 per cent discount, the report said. Civil societies would not be allowed to refer clients to lawyers or paralegals in exchange for donations, and the regulations would exclude entities funded by Legal Aid Ontario, the report said. In-house lawyers at civil so- cieties may also provide advice to clients with the correct insur- ance, the report said. Law Soci- ety treasurer Malcolm Mercer, who worked closely on the pro- posal before his election as trea- surer last year, says there are no plans to continue the working group on alternative business structures after this proposal is implemented, so there is no in- tent to expand to other models. "The hope is that we change the regulatory structure slightly for civil services organizations to add legal services to the ser- vice offering that they provide to the people that they serve. That's the essential logic: to try to al- low legal services to be provided where we know there are people that need them and in a way which is effective," Mercer says. "We focused on civil society organizations because that was a clear focus on access to jus- tice without raising collateral concerns." Superior Court of Justice in To- ronto. Osgoode Hall Law School communications manager Vir- ginia Corner said in a statement that interim dean, Mary Condon appreciates the concerns raised by the alumni and will be re- sponding to their letter. In the school year ending in 2016, Osgoode said on its web- site, it awarded $4.7 million in financial aid to students — $3.5 million of which were bursaries based solely on financial need. Richard Bogoroch, founder and managing partner of Bogoroch & Associates LLP in Toronto, is a donor to the school and sponsors a $200,000 en- trance award. "High cost of tuition, is unfor- tunately, a fact of life. What we, as a profession, must do is recog- nize that law school education, like other professional schools is very expensive," says Bogoroch, who is an alumnus of McGill University but an admirer of Osgoode. He says he was sur- prised to hear of the movement to stop donations to the school. "I think law schools are all facing financial burdens. With government funding I'm sure they are facing difficulties, like all institutions, such as hospi- tals — law schools are placed in a very difficult position today. They want to attract and pay for the top academics and that's ex- pensive, and that's what it takes to provide a platform of excel- lence," says Bogoroch. Jeffrey Hernaez, one of the nine former students who signed the letter, is currently an associate at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Vancouver. He says he was inspired to sign the letter based on his own personal experiences paying for law school. "I grew up in a very modest childhood and I really had to scrape and borrow . . . to be able to cough up the over $20,000 to go to Osgoode. And it was close then," says Hernaez. Osgoode Hall is not the only law school that has received criticism for its tuition rates. Last year, alumni of the Uni- versity of Toronto's Faculty of Law started a campaign calling for the school to set an upper limit of $40,000 per year for tu- ition until the school can release information about how alumni donations are spent. Tuition at the University of Toronto Faculty of law is $38,233.45 for first-year students and $38,183.45 for upper-year students, about $10,000 more than at Osgoode Hall. The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University, on the other end of the pricing spec- trum, charges about $19,620 for incoming domestic students. Douglas Judson, a lawyer and municipal councillor in Fort Frances, Ont., was another of the nine original signatories of the letter. "I think what we really want to see is the legal academy — and I say it generally because it is not just an Osgoode problem — to engage with a discussion with the other regulatory stakehold- ers to solve this problem," says Judson. LT NEWS Law school tuition scrutinized Continued from page 1 Continued from page 1 ABS proposal heads to Convocation THE ULTIMATE SOURCE For Today's Legal Profession | 416.609.3800 | 1.800.387.5164 Online Subscribe today! ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION INCLUDES: • 10 issues print and digital editions • FREE exclusive access to Canadian Lawyer digital edition archives • FREE weekly e-newsletter: Canadian Legal Newswire • Interactive & immersive feature-rich digital for desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone Each issue of Canadian Lawyer is packed with unbiased in-depth case analyses, valuable strategies, expert insights, and a wealth of information that will allow readers to prepare for cases and effectively manage their practice. 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