President's Message

  • June 01, 2012
  • Paul R. Sweeny

Paul R. SweenyWhat has the Ontario Bar Association done for you lately? (Besides changing the name and format of this magazine!)

We have revised our Strategic Plan to focus on four key strategic priorities, which are:


  1. Be recognized as the primary policy advocate for the membership and the legal profession in Ontario.
  2. Be recognized as the premier provider of continuing professional development programming in Ontario.
  3. Be recognized as the leader of the legal community in Ontario.
  4. Achieve organizational excellence to ensure the best member experience possible.

Consistent with our strategic priorities, the OBA:

Continues to advocate on behalf of lawyers in addressing legal issues. These advocacy efforts include:

  • Submissions before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy on Bill 34 to advocate our position that it is neither appropriate nor necessary that persons entering or found in a courthouse need provide their name and reason for being in that public space and that lawyers should not be subject to search upon entering the courthouse.
  • A submission to the Law Society of Upper Canada on the future of articling.
  • A submission which addressed the issue of cash collateralization under the PPSA, which was adopted by the province in its most recent budget.
  • My meeting with the Attorney General to discuss issues of importance to the Ontario Bar Association.

Continues to offer relevant, high-quality legal education programs. We have updated and upgraded our conference centre, which enables us to provide high-quality webcasting of our CLE programs. Our facility is now recognized as cutting edge and is used by a number of organizations to record programs and disseminate information to their various constituencies.

Organized and facilitated high school mooting programs to ensure knowledge of the justice system and the Charter, culminating in a reception and awards ceremony on Law Day (April 19th) marking the 30th anniversary of the Charter.

Planned, staged and hosted award dinners to recognize significant contributions and achievements made by members of the Ontario Bar Association.

Commenced offering free section membership to members of the sections’ executives.

And we have done more …

After I declared that I wanted to move public opinion about lawyers - to improve the public perception of lawyers, many advised me that to do so was impossible. What do we know? People respect and value their own lawyers; there are still astronomical numbers of young people applying to law school who want to become lawyers; and, people are generally envious of lawyers.

Our members have suggested that we do for lawyers what advertising campaigns are apparently doing for accountants and doctors. There are three problems with that:

  1. those ads don’t, in fact, change the public’s perception of members of those professions;
  2. those ads cost millions of dollars; and,
  3. our association doesn’t represent all lawyers, only our members.

So, if we can’t easily change the public’s perception of lawyers, what can we do? We can, we should, and we will, improve the public’s appreciation of the value of lawyers and in doing so improve the profession’s perception of Ontario Bar Association lawyers. What I want is for OBA lawyers to look in the mirror that is the media and say “That is what I am. You got it right.” We then present that lawyer to our towns, cities, regions, province, and country. When there is an alignment between our desired perception and the picture presented, we can feel satisfied.

We have undertaken some research to address these issues and have determined that the appropriate message is “Lawyers solve people’s problems – big and small.” We may go further and say “Lawyers solve people’s problems – one case, one client at a time.”

Your Ontario Bar Association seeks to solve your problems - lawyers’ problems. We will continue to advocate for the protection of lawyer/client privilege, which is a fundamental to the rule of law in a free and democratic society. We will continue to address the issue of conflicts of interest, which create problems for lawyers. And we will continue to provide high quality continuing legal education programs for our members.

This is just a taste of what we have done for you lately!

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