Benchers are the governors of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the members
of its board of governors. There are currently 53 Benchers, 40 of whom were elected by the Society's lawyer licensees, 5 representing independent paralegals, and 8 that were appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council. Benchers meet each month in a
gathering called Convocation to deal with matters
related to the governance of the legal professions and to make policy decisions.
Benchers also sit on various Law Society committees, and they participate
on panels that hear cases concerning the conduct and competence of lawyers and paralegals.
The word "bencher" was borrowed from the English Inns of Court from which
the Law Society inherited many of its traditions.
Call to the bar
Admission to the legal profession as a lawyer. In Ontario, candidates are
eligible to be called after meeting all the educational, training and character
requirements established by the Law Society as necessary to becoming a lawyer
in this province.
Monthly gathering of the Benchers. Also used to refer to the assembled
benchers as in "...Convocation voted to...". While the word
"convocation" is generally associated with university graduation ceremonies,
it is also used in relation to the church and in the context of the governance
of the Law Society. "Convocation" stems from the Latin convocare, to call
together, to summon.
County Law Associations
County Law Associations were originally constituted through the Law Society
in the late 19th century to help create and organize law libraries in local
county courthouses. The associations eventually became a means for lawyers
of a region to organize, network and voice their concerns. There are currently
48 county and district law associations.
The Great Library at Osgoode Hall is the library of the Law Society of Upper
Canada. It is a private library for the use of its members. The library was
created in the early 19th century. The "Great Library" seems to have acquired
its name when it became necessary to distinguish between the main library
and the students' collection. The main reading room of the library has been
described as one of the most beautiful rooms in Canada.
Law Society Secretary
The position of Secretary at the Law Society dates from 1833. The responsibilities
of the position have changed over time. For the period under consideration
here, the Secretary would have been responsible for the efficient operation
of Convocation and the "professional purposes" area of Law Society operations
such as discipline, professional conduct, professional standards and public
information. Since 2002 the responsibilities of the position have been divided between a number of individuals.
Ontario Bar Association
The Ontario Bar Association is a branch of the Canadian Bar Association. It
was created in 1907. It is a voluntary organization of members of the legal
profession that support the legal community by providing educational programmes
and advocacy with governments.
Home of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 1832, Osgoode Hall housed
Osgoode Hall Law School until 1968. The expression "I did not know he
had been at Osgoode Hall" refers to the fact that the subject of the conversation
had studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Until 1957 the Law Society
had the monopoly over legal education in Ontario and Osgoode Hall Law
School was the alma mater of all Ontario-trained lawyers up to that time.
Osgoode Hall Rifle Association
The Osgoode Hall Rifle Association, a volunteer regiment of the legal profession,
was formed in 1914 in response to the outbreak of World War One.
The Law Society of Upper Canada
The Law Society of Upper Canada is the self-governing body for lawyers and paralegals in
Ontario. The primary responsibility or mandate of the Law Society is to regulate
the legal professions in the public interest according to Ontario law and the
Law Society's rules, regulations and guidelines.
The head of the Law Society, he or she presides over Convocation. The Treasurer
is elected by Benchers entitled to vote in Convocation. An election for Treasurer
is held each year at the regular June meeting of Convocation. The word Treasurer
was borrowed from the Inns of Court in England.