Law Times

February 11, 2019

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LAW TIMES 4 COVERING ONTARIO'S LEGAL SCENE | FEBRUARY 11, 2019 Former MP graduated last year even articling at the high court. But after immi- grating to Canada as a young person, he says he had to start over, and he opted to take a path into law through fellowships in arbitration and inter- national insurance. Be- fore entering politics, he worked as an insurance executive and business- man, according to his parliamentary record. "I always wanted to go back to law studies, and in a sense, finish what I'd done, and that's what motivated me in part," he says. Lincoln completed his LLM in 2018 with a focus on sus- tainable development, drawing inspiration from his tenure as minister of the environment. One of the most memorable courses for Lincoln was a legal methodology class. "Out of the 30 or 35 students, there might have been five or six that lived in Canada on a permanent basis or were Ca- nadians. All the others were people from Bangladesh, Africa, Asia, Germany, Poland — it was amazing, almost a cross- roads of the world. And when we were doing our presenta- tions, I sensed they were there because they had a commit- ment to a cause," he says. Lincoln says his experience at law school made him hopeful for the future of the legal profession. "What surprised me the most was the fact that, when I would sit in the law library, I used to find so many young people in their early 20s. You would walk into the library [and] it was hard to find a seat. And you could not hear a sound; people were very attentive to what they were doing," he says. "It gives you an encouragement for the future. You see so much diligence and commitment." LT BY JULIA NOWICKI Law Times WITH the 2019 bencher elec- tions on the horizon, lawyers in the province are advocating for changes to be made to how the Law Society of Ontario handles disciplinary investigations upon discovering the lawyer in ques- tion may be dealing with a men- tal health issue. Darryl Singer, a trial lawyer and head of the commercial and civil litigation practice group at Diamond and Diamond Per- sonal Injury Lawyers, says the LSO's current investigatory and disciplinary process on matters of conduct and its emphasis on public prosecution has a nega- tive impact on legal profession- als with mental health concerns. "The LSO does not intervene in what I'll call a humane or ap- propriate way," Singer says. Some legal professionals of- ten do not become aware of their own mental illness or feel com- pelled to remain silent for fear of repercussions in their career until the point that a conduct application is filed against their name, Singer says. Both Singer and Bill Trudell, who practises at Simcoe Cham- bers and regularly acts for licens- ees at the law society, are advo- cating for an alternative system to be implemented — a route of diversion when it becomes ap- parent early in a conduct inves- tigation or hearing that mental health may have been a factor in the complaints lodged against a lawyer or paralegal. "There should be another off- ramp as opposed to the public prosecution," Trudell says. Orlando Da Silva, a senior Crown counsel at the serious fraud office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, went pub- lic with his own experience as a lawyer with depression back in 2014. However, as a candidate in the upcoming bencher election, he hopes the LSO can do more to destigmatize mental illness in the legal profession. "They [the LSO] have to make an environment where lawyers or paralegals feel comfortable ap- proaching and disclosing early," Da Silva says, "and that means confidentiality in that process." Da Silva says the Mental Health Strategy Task Force implemented in 2015 was a step in the right direction and other initiatives such as the Member Assistance Program have been beneficial. However, he says there is still widespread hesitancy to access the confidential counselling ser- vices provided by MAP for fear it will somehow end in a disci- plinary investigation. In the upcoming February Convocation, benchers will be voting on proposed changes to the Law Society Tribunal Rules of Practice as first prepared by the Tribunal Committee in No- vember. Among the new rules being proposed to the LSO are ones that will address the very concerns these Ontario lawyers have by modifying how the tri- bunal may deal with matters re- lated to mental health. If adopted, the new rules will allow conduct applications to be converted to capacity applica- tions on consent of all parties and publication bans to be im- plemented on capacity hearings, should there be a concern for the licensee's health in disclosure. Isfahan Merali is a senior counsel at the Consent and Ca- pacity Board in Ontario, a cur- rent bencher and chairwoman of the Tribunal Committee. "I hope that the tribunal rules that have been proposed will get approved by Convocation," says Merali, who is running for bencher again. "I know that the tribunal has already been working for a num- ber of years to ensure that the publication of reasons, orders and disclosure file materials relating to licensees don't reinforce stigma or interfere with treatment." Regardless of whether those rules are adopted into the LSO, Merali says, several preven- tive and management strategies have already been implemented as a result of the earlier efforts of the Mental Health Strategy Task Force that have aimed to reduce stigma and increase early access to support systems. This included increasing awareness of the MAP and ensuring that "there was specialized training on mental health and addictions for law society staff and law soci- ety tribunal adjudicators, as well as making sure that tribunal adjudicators had training on ac- commodation requirements for mental health," says Merali. Regulatory changes have also been made in the tribunal pro- cess, which included expanding the volunteer duty counsel pro- gram, she says. LT Darryl Singer says the LSO's current investigatory and disciplinary process on matters of conduct has a negative impact on legal professionals with mental health concerns. Mental health issues need consideration Push for discipline changes NEWS Continued from page 1 Clifford Lincoln recently graduated with a law degree. Celebrating Change Agents in Law Bronze Sponsor Media Partner THE E B O L G AND MAIL NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN This is a call for nominations for the 2019 Lexpert Zenith Awards: Celebrating Change Agents in Law We encourage nominations of individual lawyers who have made changes to the legal profession and to thought leadership. Winners may be drawn from law firms, corporate legal and government departments, academia and alternative legal careers. To access the nomination form visit To view a description of the Awards visit Nomination deadline: February 28, 2019 Event date: June 18, 2019, Arcadian Court, Toronto For sponsorship inquiries contact us at or call 416.649.8841. Untitled-1 1 2019-02-07 2:23 PM

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