The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) is responsible for regulating lawyers in Ontario. The primary role of the LSUC is to protect the public interest and to facilitate access to justice for consumers.
Soon the LSUC will hold a bencher election that could have a serious impact on consumers and law firms throughout the province. A major issue in the election is the proposed adoption of alternative business structures (ABS) in the legal profession, and Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers have taken a stand in the matter.
Gluckstein Lawyers are against the adoption of the ABS model, which would allow for law firms regulated by the LSUC to be publicly traded. Adoption of the model would effectively give control of law firms to shareholders and other non-lawyers.
ABS has already been adopted in the United Kingdom and Australia, but there is a lack of evidence that the change has benefited consumers.
In a recent article in Law Times, Charles Gluckstein, who is the immediate past-president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA), spoke of the matter succinctly: "The proof is just not there. No matter where it's been implemented -- whether it's Australia or the United Kingdom -- ABS has not resulted in greater access to justice, lower costs for consumers, nor has it facilitated technological advancements and innovation in the profession."
Should the profit concerns of shareholders have an impact on how lawyers serve their clients? Should non-lawyers whose main concern is return on investment have control over how the law is practiced? Should profitability and market share outweigh the legal concerns of consumers?
These are the ethical questions put to the candidates in the upcoming bencher election, and the OTLA has demanded that the candidates state their position on ABS. Already the OTLA has said the ABS proposal is ill-advised.
You can read more on this important topic in Gluckstein Lawyers' previous post, "Will Canadian Law Firms' Business Model Change?"
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