Skip Navigation
Back to Navigation
Strategic priorities and initiatives

Strategic priorities

Following the election of our new board of directors (known also as Convocation) in 2019, the Law Society established four key objectives to guide and direct its strategic agenda for the 2019-2023 board term. They are:

  1. proportionate regulation
  2. scope of regulation
  3. competence and quality of service
  4. access to justice.

 
The Law Society is pursuing these objectives in tandem with our core operational priorities. You can read more about our most recent accomplishments in the Strategic initiatives’ section (below) and the Key trends and financials section of this report.


Strategic initiatives

Competence

Why it’s important:
Professional competence is an integral part of the Law Society’s mandate to regulate in the public interest — and it is essential that we continually enhance opportunities, and develop new ones, to support our members in strengthening their skills and knowledge base in order to best serve Ontarians.

  • What we did:
    • The Coach and Advisor Network (CAN) marked five years of providing lawyers and paralegals with access to short-term, outcome-oriented relationships with coaches and advisors drawn from the professions. CAN continues to grow and meet members’ needs, facilitating 662 advisor and 191 coaching engagements for a total of 853 matches in 2021. This was a 32 per cent increase in matches over 2020, with 98 per cent of these participants expressing that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
    • The Competence Task Force held a call for comment on regulatory approaches to ensure lawyer and paralegal career-long competence. The task force is formulating recommendations for a proportionate regulatory framework that addresses post-licensure competence and is responsive to the public’s legal needs.
    • In recognition of the increased risk of mental health challenges for those in the legal professions, the Member Well-being Resources Group was established to promote awareness of well-being resources and work to reduce stigma across the professions. The Mental Health for Legal Professionals Summit was a key initiative in 2021. With over 4,350 registrations, it was the Law Society’s top-most attended continuing professional development program. The Law Society also partnered with researchers from the University of Sherbrooke and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to encourage members to participate in the first-ever national well-being study of legal professionals.
    • Work on the Paralegal Comprehensive Study continued with an extensive research project which included interviews, focus groups and surveys of current and prospective members of the paralegal profession. This research will provide valuable insight into potential regulatory enhancements aimed at strengthening the paralegal profession and supporting long-term retention.
    • The Practice Management Helpline remained a vital support for the professions, responding to over 10,000 inquiries from lawyers and paralegals, developing new resources to support contingency fee reforms and enhanced anti-money-laundering requirements, and maintaining over 60 resources to address practice management challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the helpline also introduced an automated feedback collection process to assess caller experience. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with 96 per cent of callers indicating that they would recommend the helpline and are likely to call again.
       

Access to justice

Why it’s important:
It is critical that all Ontarians have fair and equal access to the justice system. Many individuals, especially those with modest means, have limited or no ability to access the help they need to address their legal issues. Facilitating access to justice in Ontario is part of the Law Society’s statutory obligations and we continue to collaborate with our justice system partners to support initiatives and programs that enhance access for everyone.

  • What we did:
    • The five-year Access to Innovation (A2I) pilot project was launched in November 2021. By safely removing regulatory barriers, the A2I project encourages the development and operation of innovative technological legal services that can reach legal consumers in new ways, especially in areas of high unmet legal need. As a ‘regulatory sandbox’, A2I provides a space in which potentially beneficial products and services can be tested, while protection of the public is ensured.
    • New Contingency Fee Requirements came into effect July 1, 2021. The new requirements enhance access to justice and consumer protection by improving transparency and fairness for clients. The changes also benefit lawyers and paralegals by increasing efficiency and reducing burdens. 
    • As part of the Family Law Action Plan, in partnership with the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, the Law Society launched a pilot project which allows eligible lawyer licensing candidates to attend to an increased number of matters related to family law cases without first needing permission of the court.
    • A Paralegal Promotional Campaign was launched to educate Ontarians about the services that paralegals provide as well as when and why it may be beneficial to engage a paralegal. A variety of channels were employed to raise the profile of the profession. The campaign followed a research initiative that revealed a lack of understanding of the role of paralegals in the justice system.
    • The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) celebrated its sixth annual Access to Justice Week. A2J Week 2021 was the largest and most attended to date with more than 2,670 attendees participating in 25 virtual programs across the country. Locally and nationally, sessions centering on enhancing the legal professions’ relationships with Indigenous Peoples were prominent in the week’s programming. In addition to opportunities for legal professionals, this year’s programming featured three public-facing workshops designed to help break down every-day barriers faced by those accessing the justice system.

Equity initiatives

Why it’s important:
The Law Society seeks to ensure that both the law and the practice of law are reflective of all the peoples of Ontario, including Indigenous Peoples, Francophones and equity-seeking communities. The Law Society also works to ensure that its workplace and the legal professions are free of harassment and discrimination.
 

  • What we did:
    • The latest Change of Status research reports were published comparing 2016-2020 data to previous waves of research. The study of lawyers and paralegals who change their practice setting or status with the Law Society assists in building an understanding of movements within the legal professions, and, in particular, if, why and how women are leaving private practice.
    • The Law Society continued to offer quality, virtual programming in 2021 in its delivery of the Equity Legal Education Series. All events were organized and held online with presenters and attendees participating from across Ontario. In all, 10 events were held, with a total of over 9,000 attendees. 
    • The Law Society hosted the inaugural Treasurer’s Roundtable on Women in Law in collaboration with the Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges. A diverse group of over 60 women participated in the event, with the goal of identifying challenges faced by women lawyers and paralegals and putting forward meaningful ways to address these challenges.
    • The Women in Law Advisory Group was established to share opinions and perspectives, study issues and consider strategies to address challenges faced by women in law. As part of its research, the group will review the summary report from the Roundtable on Women in Law.
Terms or Concepts Explained