A Memorandum for Judging the Candidates Running in the Law Society of Upper Canada's (Ontario’s) 2015 Bencher Election

13 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2015

Date Written: April 25, 2015


The candidates for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s bencher election, which concluded on April 30, 2015, should have dealt with the national unaffordable legal services problem as the determinative issue, because: (1) it afflicts the majority of the population in that people cannot afford lawyers’ legal advice services; (2) it is clogging the courts with self-represented litigants; (3) it is greatly depressing the economic future of Canada’s legal profession; and, (4) it is making increasingly difficult the funding of legal aid organizations as more taxpayers cannot obtain a lawyer’s advice services.

Because of its much outmoded method of delivering legal services, the legal profession has priced itself beyond the majority of the population. It uses a “handcraftsman’s method” instead of a support services method for producing legal services. Like handcraftsmen, law firms use no outside, specialized, scaled-up volume, support services. “Nothing cuts costs as effectively as scaling-up,” i.e., “bigger is better.” The legal profession has no counterpart to the medical profession’s infrastructure of mutually interdependent, highly specialized support services of specialized doctors, technicians, technical tests, drugs, and hospital services. No doctor’s office provides all treatments and remedies to all patients, as does a law firm for all clients.

Benchers perform like the charitable, part-time amateurs that were the 19th bencher-managers of law societies. They are amateurs because they lack the expertise to solve problems as complex as the unaffordable legal services problem, and they don’t go out and get it, and in the province of Ontario, they average only 31 days work per year, and their work is almost totally unpaid. Their legal duties are to the public, but they are elected by the lawyer-members of Ontario’s law society, the Law Society of Upper Canada. Therefore: (1) they are a politically unaccountable regulator of an important professional service; and, (2) the public has insufficient opportunity to affect the making of law society policy and practice. And their law society work conflicts with their need to cope with their duties to their clients or institutional legal departments, and with their motivations for becoming benchers. Therefore, there are eight major reasons for the inadequacy of law society management. As a result, a different management structure is needed for Canada’s law societies.

If law societies are to avoid government intervention into their management, they must create: (1) a national institute of experts that can: (a) provide advice on the necessary changes in the demand for legal services and how to satisfy them; (b) advise how to maintain legal services as affordable to the population; and, (c) expertly monitor similar changes and innovations in other countries; and (2) create specialized support services, having greater cost-efficiency in their production of specialized legal services than law firms can provide for themselves.

See also: “Access to Justice – Canada's Unaffordable Legal Services – CanLII as the Necessary Support Service” (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2365818); and the other “access to justice” papers on my SSRN author’s page.

Keywords: law society, benchers, affordable legal services, government intervention, independence of the legal profession, support services, economies of scale, production of goods and services, legal advice, professional infrastructure of support services, cost-efficiency in the production of legal services.

Suggested Citation

Chasse, Ken, A Memorandum for Judging the Candidates Running in the Law Society of Upper Canada's (Ontario’s) 2015 Bencher Election (April 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2598898 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2598898

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