On May 11, 2016 the Law Society of Upper Canada held its Annual General Meeting. A self-admitted legal geek, and a curious person by nature, I thought I would attend. After all, all members of the Law Society were invited, and I am a member (or technically a ‘licensee’). When I asked around if any other lawyers were going, people would give me an odd look, and say “No, of course not” or “Why would you waste your time?”
Undeterred, at 5 p.m. I walked through the doors of the Law Society fully expecting to enter a small room with Treasurer Janet Minor, CEO Robert Lapper, and a few benchers giving me a funny look for showing up. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I walked into a bustling room full of people meeting and greeting each other. While admittedly a lot were benchers, when I signed in at the non-bencher registration table, at least 20 other lawyers and paralegals had already signed in before me (and many came after). I took my seat in the Donald Lamont Learning Centre surprised at the number there and the law geek in me was happy and a little proud (sort of like how Canadians got excited to do the census).
The meeting progressed like any other AGM for a corporation. Treasurer Minor called the meeting to order. She reminded us that only those members whose licenses were not currently suspended could be in attendance. Similar to that moment in a wedding where the officiant asks if anyone knows any reason why these two people should not be married to speak now or forever hold their peace, I waited to see if anyone got up to leave. No one did.
Treasurer Minor provided a summary of the Annual Report and the five priorities that the LSUC will focus on in coming years: to lead as a professional regulator; engage stakeholders and the public with responsive communications; increase organizational effectiveness, prioritize life-long competence for lawyers and paralegals and enhance access to justice across Ontario.
Then bencher Peter Wardle presented the financial statements for 2015 (the LSUC is doing well financially) and the floor was open for questions. While there were a few questions about paralegal issues and the continuing professional development requirements, there were no questions about the LSUC’s finances. And, as there were no motions this year, the meeting was adjourned.
Next came the best part of the evening: the AGM reception. I had no idea there was a reception. Up we went to Convocation Hall and we were greeted with wine and wonderful food, and, most importantly, there were interesting and engaging people in attendance. The reception was a great place to interact with individuals from the LSUC and other lawyers and paralegals. I spent the evening chatting it up with benchers, the Treasurer, the CEO and networking with other professionals.
Leaving the event, I felt like I had stumbled upon an amazing little secret. This legal geek had a surprisingly good time.
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance litigator, researcher & writer at Cowling Legal Freelance and President and Founder of FLEX LEGAL, a network of freelance lawyers.