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Solicitors need a strong voice in convocation!

As you know, solicitors have historically been underrepresented in convocation. With this year’s LSO bencher election, I strongly urge you to: a) vote and b) make a conscious decision to vote for strong solicitor representation.

Many lawyers campaigning for STOP. It’s obvious what they are against, but do you know what they are for?

Convocation deals with more than one issue.

I have the experience and good standing among my peers to be a voice for all lawyers across the province. I am endorsed by the following lawyers, inside and outside of Toronto.

Reuben Rosenblatt
Sid Troister
Jeff Lem
Maurizio Romanin
Bob Aaron
Larry Banack
Alan Silverstein
Bram Potechin
Eldon Horner
Harvey Strosberg
Jonathon Rosenthal
Andrew Dilkens
Don Thompson

How can you help?

  • Let your colleagues know of my bid for re-election by forwarding a link to this blog, http://www.bencherblog.ca/; and
  • Use the social media Share buttons below to spread the word to your networks.

Thank you for your support.

SPEAK UP OR QUIT COMPLAINING

When I first got elected as a Bencher many, many of you congratulated me and thanked me for being “the voice of the non-GTA Solicitor” in Convocation. I was flattered and honoured to accept your comments and words of encouragement. I continue to do my best to bring the perspective of a “non- GTA”, experienced, solicitor to the work of the Law Society.

When I first started this Blog it was my intention to post something weekly or monthly updating the profession on what was happening in Convocation. I have always felt that there is a real and perceived “disconnect” between this of us who are “slugging it out” on a daily basis outside of the GTA and those who practice on Bay Street and/or have no idea of what it takes to make a living outside of Toronto.

I have learned the dynamics in both places are unique.

I haven’t posted in a while as others such as Larry Banack have a much more extensive email list and are better at getting the message regarding the general events that happen in Convocation or at the LSO out there than I.

In recent weeks, notices have been posted in many places about a request from the Law Society regarding input from the profession regarding Title Insurance.

On other occasions, I have received complaints from the profession that there hasn’t been sufficient consultation. On Title Insurance, this is your chance to speak up.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to voice your opinion.

While the issue is relatively simple – the solution may not be so simple.

Should a lawyer be allowed to received examining counsel fees and/or incentives from Title Insurers? Some people feel there should be a total ban on both. Other feel fees are acceptable provided a genuine service is provided by the lawyer to the title insurer and there is full client disclosure and consent.

But what happens if the premium would be less to the client if those payments weren’t paid by the Title Insurer to the lawyer? A payment for services rendered that actually reduces the costs incurred by a Title Insurer is one thing – but an incentive to refer work to a Title Insurer is another.

If the cost to the Tile Insurer is more because of incentive payments or excessive fee payments, the insurer’s cost will:

A) be passed on to the client; or

B) swallowed by the insurer.

Most of us are not naive to think B will happen.

Let’s be clear.

The LSO does not permit lawyers to receive incentives for recommending a specific title insurance product or to receive commissions or fees with respect to any title insurance coverage.

The LSO has rules in place that require lawyers to disclose and obtain consent where they are retained to provide services to multiple parties. But, a recent survey revealed at least 30% don’t disclose to their clients that payments are being received from title insurers.

If you do residential purchases (like I do), the client just wants to know the bottom line and when they can get the keys. They want to spend as little time in your office as possible and usually will sign almost anything without taking the time to read it (even when you insist they do so). I am concerned whether genuine disclosure and consent is realistic and I’m also concerned whether the true cost and price of title insurance is being inflated because of payments by title insurers.

A lot of emails have been sent out from various stakeholders/advocates promoting different propositions.

My position on this issue has been clear from the beginning.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of a ban on providing paid services.
But, how to we implement a system that is fair to everyone, including both lawyers and clients?

Yes, I’m a fan of TitlePlus Title Insurance BUT
No
, I don’t use TitlePlus exclusively. Under various circumstances I have used Stewart title, Chicago Title and other Insurers.

Yes, other Title Insurers may be easier to use and get policies from.

Yes, every policy has its pros and cons.

Not all policies and coverage are the same.

If you think the present policy is ok then let the LSO know why you support the present approach. Make suggestions on how to insure “full disclosure” is real disclosure.

It is the LSO’s obligation to ensure the public is being treated fairly. But we are also entitled to be paid fairly for the services we provide.

If you have changes/alterations or suggestions, please, let them know.

The time to speak up is now.

LAWPRO Reduces Fees by more than 10%

LAWPRO base premium decreased to $2,950

PLUS strategies to promote access to justice

Toronto, ON, September 22, 2016 –LAWPRO is pleased to announce that Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada approved its 2017 insurance program for the Ontario Bar.

After careful analysis of claims history, capital accumulation, and the need to continue to operate the company in a commercially reasonable manner, the 2017 base premium was reduced from $3,350 to $2,950.

“LAWPRO offers an affordable and effective insurance program that is sensitive to the needs of a changing bar. Our commitment is to refine the insurance policy and terms to take into account developments in the profession we serve and the needs of lawyers’ clients,” said LAWPRO CEO, Kathleen Waters.

The 2017 LAWPRO insurance program also includes the following updates:

  • To promote access to justice and to address the lower demonstrated risk of certain government employed lawyers, there is a new 75% premium adjustment available for those employed by specific Designated Agencies. These Designated Agencies will typically assist those who would otherwise have challenges in accessing legal advice, and thus advance access to justice. Civil litigation transaction levy payments are not needed for the services provided in the course of the lawyer’s employment with a Designated Agency.
  • The 2017 primary insurance policy has also been amended to better address coverage for seconded lawyers and to extend the $250,000 defence-only coverage to the benefit of the seconded lawyer if the “employer exclusion” of the Policy applies.

For details on the LAWPRO 2017 insurance program, see LAWPRO Magazine Insurance Issue.

About LAWPRO

LAWPRO is owned by the Law Society of Upper Canada and is licensed to provide professional liability insurance in Ontario and title insurance in numerous jurisdictions across Canada. Through its malpractice insurance program, LAWPRO insures over 25,500 practising lawyers in Ontario, as well as providing them with risk and practice management information under the practicePRO® banner. LAWPRO’s TitlePLUS® title insurance program is available to Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries to better meet their clients’ needs for professional legal advice and superior protection for their real estate transactions.

Contact:
Naomi Dummett, Director of Communications
Naomi.dummett@lawpro.ca
416-596-4652

® Registered trademark of Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company

Advertising and Fee Arrangement Working Group Needs YOUR Input

Tired of Real Estate Lawyers advertising misleading ads or all-inclusive fees that don’t truly reflect the real cost to your clients??

The Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group is seeking the professions’ input regarding issues related to advertising, referral fees and fee arrangements, as described in its report. The final date to submit comments is September 30, 2016. The working group was formed in February 2016, following a call for input on proposed amendments to the advertising rules that revealed a need for additional, focused study.

To access the report and make submissions:

www.mailoutinteractive.com/Industry/Redirect.aspx?u=1715915&q=1051929001&lm=30018638&r=815037&qz=dbb279b090f20c9a4e3cf161afe5d9a0

This is your chance to have your voice heard. If you don’t speak up now, it may be too late later on!!

New Treasurer Elected

Paul Schabas, of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, is the new Treasurer.

Paul Schabas

Mr. Schabas was elected Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, on a third ballot at Convocation’s June meeting. He has served for two previous terms as a Bencher and has been very active in many Committees.

Mr. Schabas beat out the other candidates Howard Goldblatt, Raj Anand, and Susan McGrath   It took three ballots, with Mr. Schabas defeating Mr. Goldblatt by a vote of 38-21. Mr. Schabas is a partner and trial and appellate lawyer He is also adjunct professor at the University of Toronto.

I am hoping to interview him in the near future and publish the interview in this blog.

Have any questions???? Please send them to me and I will do my best to see if I can get answers.

Convocation Update

Convocation met on May 26 and the following items came up that may be of interest to you.

Lawyer and paralegal conduct rules amended

  • Transactions with Clients: The amendments ensure the rules on conflicts of interest in circumstances where licensees engage in transactions with clients are clear, consistent, and logical and able to provide appropriate guidance to the professions.
  • Duty to Report: The amendments clarify when the duty to report a licensee to the Law Society arises. They also revise the rules’ approach to the issue of the duty to report to the Law Society a concern about another licensee’s capacity to provide professional services.
  • Errors and Omissions: The amendments clarify the rules regarding the relationship between a licensee’s ethical duties and a licensee’s obligations under mandatory liability insurance contracts. The amendments also make it clear that a licensee’s ethical duty to notify their insurer of a potential claim may arise regardless of whether the licensee believes the claim has merit.

Update on proposed enhancements to the lawyer licensing process

Proposed enhancements to the Lawyer Licensing Process were reported for information by the Professional Development and Competence Committee to April Convocation with the intent of obtaining input from the profession.

The proposal was part of the Law Society’s strategic priority to enhance licensing standards to ensure new lawyers are competent to meet and surpass the expectations of future law practice.

The Committee, having benefitted from the input received to date, has decided to address and respond to concerns raised, as appropriate, and to continue to receive and assess any additional input over the coming months. Accordingly, the Committee plans to consider these enhancements in conjunction with its assessment of the Pathways Pilot Project, in the fall of 2016.

As a result, the licensing process changes that were discussed in the April report to Convocation will not be implemented for the 2017-18 licensing year.

Nominations for Law Society Treasurer

The following benchers have been nominated for the office of Treasurer:

  • Raj Anand
  • Howard Goldblatt
  • Susan McGrath
  • Paul Schabas

The Treasurer is elected through secret ballot by the benchers of the Law Society. The election will take place at Convocation on June 23, 2016. The newly elected Treasurer will succeed Treasurer Janet E. Minor, who was first elected in June, 2014.