RANT: Does the Law Society of Ontario Have ANY Teeth?

by | Mar 31, 2022 | Rant

I started my career as a Law Clerk in December 1991. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed like all lawyers will tell you, the pursuit of justice, equity, fairness, and truth was my driving force.

I even wrote my LSATS a couple of years later, having contemplated becoming that ‘keeper of the keys of justice’ (so-called).

After working with and for lawyers for 2+ years at the time, I soon realized, it was all a sham. Rules, regulations, processes, legal-loop holes – none of these things advance ‘justice’.

So, who is governing these ‘keepers of justice’?

The LSO: About LSO | Law Society of Ontario

Surely, having been created as an act of the Legislative Assembly in 1797, there is room for improvement.

Particularly since, the LSO (@LawSocietyLSO) has an absolute “duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open, and efficient manner”. (Taken from LSO’s website, of course.)

Their ‘espoused’ mission, mandate and implied ‘values, morals and ethics’ are just that: espoused, mythical – like a long-forgotten unicorn.

Take, for example, a senior partner in a well-known employment law firm, reporting another senior partner for fraud (albeit anonymously – because lawyers will be lawyers: they are not a transparent bunch) and nothing coming of that ‘Duty to Report’/complaint. No investigation; nothing.

“Unless to do so would be unlawful or would involve a breach of solicitor-client privilege, a lawyer shall report to the Law Society conduct that raises a substantial question as to another lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or competency as a lawyer.”

Is this then not more than a case of ‘broken trust’? Broken trust: Two faces of justice | Toronto Star (thestar.com)

Who are the ‘keepers of Justice’ currently employed by the LSO, paid for by their ‘brethren’?

Why does this regulator of all lawyers in Ontario have ‘no teeth’? Is this simply a matter of (in HR lingo) a lack of engagement and affective commitment to their organization, its mandate, principles, and mission statement? Or is it much more than that?

Is it fear? Is it embarrassment? Are they not really only protecting themselves?

Is it not the ‘thin blue line’ type of mentality? Cops support Cops; no matter what. Partisan politicians support the cause; no matter what. Lawyers and their ‘brethren’ don’t tattle on each other. Lawyers are taught and indoctrinated into the mantra that they are somehow ‘special’ and by this, the myth is perpetuated: they are, above the law, i.e., that the ‘brethren’ and the ‘brotherhood’ (both male terms, in case you missed the memo re: Law Society = created in 1797), and the maintenance of the body itself far outweighs the actual task and mandate they are obliged to follow, respect, and adhere to.

When a senior partner of a well-recognized employment law firm, who also happens to be, perhaps, let us say (ahem) a municipally-appointed member of another ‘body’, de-frauds their client(s) [note the plural tense, here] by charging personal nail salon, dining, and travel expenses back to a client file, and this, under ‘duty to report’, is reported to the LSO and the LSO does nothing to investigate, is this then not cause for dismissal, or relief of your duties (this is about you, LSO peeps)? If the LSO has no teeth, why then is it still in existence? Is this not one protecting their own job, political agenda and, obviously, incompetence? Fraud is a criminal offence; yet the LSO does not have an obligation to report fraud to the police.

Lawyers tend to be a highly neurotic, insecure, often-times narcissistic, always-concerned-about-where-the-next-client-is-coming-from group of individuals (hence, the term “ambulance-chasers”). Not all lawyers–caveat: Just ‘most’ lawyers (I have a few exceptional, highly ethical, moral, lawyer friends and clients – far and few between, though. I stand behind my opinions). Having worked with and for many lawyers in my 31-year professional career, in my most humble opinion, these people have been taught and are brainwashed, in their law schools, by their law professors (and browbeaten during their articles), to fear. This fear and their subsequent forever-remaining insecurity has been drilled into their heads–that they could be ‘sued’ at any time, at any moment. This perpetuates their neuroticism, anxiety, and mistrust. They are risk averse. Yet, some of them are litigators. I don’t know; I am just asking, do you really want an insecure, risk averse, fearful body of lawyers (the LSO) governing their own kind? EEK! Lawyers are supposed to ‘self-regulate’. (What an utter joke.)

I recall my own personal interaction with the then-called Law Society of Upper Canada (or, as I properly referred to that body at the time, LSUC – L-S-U-C-K). I was a young 30-something and I was engaged in a real estate / mortgage deal at the time. My lawyer owed me, from my perspective, $250. I filed a complaint with then-LSUCK. It was a one-pager. After months of back and forth (6 months to be exact) with L-S-U-C-K, the lawyer replied with a 22-page diatribe of bullshit as to why he did everything right, quoting various case law (yawn), advancing his bullshit argument, as to why he did not feel he owed me the $250. In the end, L-S-U-C-K ruled against ‘my lawyer’ (again, it took the Law Society 6 months to deal with a $250 complaint – I wonder how much the LSO peeps get paid); and he paid me the $250. The moral of that little tidbit is that this neurotic, anxiety-ridden, insecure, narcissist would rather spend 18 hours writing his diatribe, advancing useless, overly-verbose (read: nobody cares; really), irrelevant case law, than taking accountability, mea culpa–ing, and paying me the $250 which he ended up doing anyway.

Hey LSO! Here is a question for ya: Why do so many lawyers who steal from their clients avoid criminal justice? Why does the LSO do nothing when these acts are reported? Maybe, to reiterate, the better question is this: Why is the LSO still in existence!?

“The Law Society of Ontario is governed by a board of directors, who are known as benchers. This board includes lawyers, paralegals, and lay persons (non-lawyers and non-paralegals). The Law Society is funded through lawyer and paralegal licensing fees. To maintain the privilege of self-governance, the public interest must always be of paramount concern to the Law Society.”[Emphasis added.]

WHAT A JOKE.

So many laws and statutes have been improved and amended (provincial and federal) yet the LSO, an antiquated no-teeth, useless body of incompetents remains in existence – paid for by (risk-averse, by nature) lawyers’ annual fees. Is it any surprise then that the LSO has no teeth?

Here is what the LSO’s own employees think about the LSO (taken from various Glassdoor reviews):

“2.0-star review:

Great place to work if you know someone [Emphasis added.]. Great pay and office location. A very political ecosystem with moving up or being hired by someone you know. Advice to Management: Weed out the biased decision-makers and hire based on experience. Be more innovative and modern with best practices.”

“It is a regulatory body run by Lawyers” (in 6 reviews).

“Unfortunately, there [are] not too much vertical growth opportunities” (in 3 reviews).

“They are old school in management style”.

“Current employee review:
Poor pay, no room for growth and no WORK LIFE balance

Pros: You get 3 paid personal days, 2 additional paid days to volunteer and days off for religious holidays. You get 15 days vacations from the start.

Cons: You have to wait a year to participate in the pension plan, no room for growth, out of date processes, resistant to change, indecisive, no work life balance, employees have to pay for all health and dental benefits except Life and AD&D, the organization only cares about the lawyers and paralegals and employees have poor technology and lack of resources to succeed. There is no training, equal distribution of work or support from management.

Advice to Management: We need strategic managers that are forward thinking and drive change instead of doing what they are told. There are leaders that know less than their subordinates and underqualified for the management positions. [Emphasis added.] Retention for high performers is low because there is no support or plan to keep them satisfied. Employees should be compensated based on performance and not their title.”

Me-thinks ‘tis time for this dinosaur to either step up, do its job, or face extinction – like its predecessor dinosaurs.

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men”.
The LSO is not irreplaceable.

Would your legal practice benefit from an HR overhaul? Check out our custom tailored HR consulting geared specifically for law firms, call 416.788.8069 or email us at info@tsergas.ca to find out how TSERGAS Human Capital can help modernize your practice and keep it safe from extinction.

Effie Tsergas

Founding Principal

Effie has been a champion of positive organizational behavior for over twenty-five years. She founded TSERGAS Human Capital 8 years ago. Aside from her “effervescent” personality and unwavering commitment to HR best practices, Effie is well-known for her work with some of the top legal firms in Canada. She assists clients across various industries with everything from targeted recruitment, strategic human resources planning, and growth and change management initiatives. With a wealth of experience in human resources, investigations, law, public relations, and marketing communications, Effie is a seasoned strategist with expertise you can bank on.