Forging pathways to success
As I write this I am aware that my term as President is nearing the half-way mark. The OBA Institute has just ended with the largest number of registrants – over 1,600 lawyers – to participate in the last decade. In addition to the registrants, more than 300 speakers provided current legal updates and insights over the course of three days, making Institute, once again, the largest CLE event in Canada. Institute is a one-stop opportunity for our members and others to secure all of their required annual CPD programming and to network with friends and colleagues.
The keynote speech at the Thursday luncheon was focused on creativity. The speaker, David Usher, is a speaker, songwriter, musical performer and member of the Juno Award-winning band Moist. His inspiring message was well worth the price of admission by itself. Kudos to our Institute Committee, our volunteers and the OBA staff team, without whom this successful event would not have been possible.
Another success story is our new Find a Lawyer website tool. More than 1,450 lawyers have signed on since we launched in the fall and I expect that number will continue to grow as our members discover this free tool. Find a Lawyer provides members exposure to the more than 6,000 visitors the OBA website receives every day, many of whom are looking for legal representation.
The 2014 OBA President’s Tour is underway, and includes consultations on the Law Practice Program. As many readers will know, the OBA entered into a strategic alliance with Ryerson University last year and Ryerson was selected by the Law Society of Upper Canada to deliver the pilot alternative to articling. This program, which will deliver the necessary practice experience required for licensing in Ontario, is scheduled to start in September 2014. Our LPP Committee is chaired by OBA’s Treasurer, Doug Downey. Together with Ontario’s former Attorney General Chris Bentley, who is spearheading this project on behalf of Ryerson, we will be consulting with our members across the province over the next few months.
The OBA will also play a role in helping to find mentors for the LPP students and placements for their four-month work terms. There is some expectation that law firms in smaller centres, or in rural and northern communities, who might not have the resources to offer a traditional articling experience, may well decide they wish to host, and benefit from, an LPP student. Hopefully many of the LPP students who experience a practice session in a smaller community will consider remaining in that community once they are called to the Bar. As someone who comes from a smaller city, I am very excited about the positive impact this could have on access to legal services outside major metropolitan centres.
April is now OBA Make a Power of Attorney month, a brand new initiative. Less than half of all Canadians have Powers of Attorney for Property or Personal Care (sometimes called living wills). We have partnered with the Trillium Gift of Life Foundation in this venture, a marketing campaign primarily using social media. In addition, view the OBA website to access marketing tools for your practice. These tools include templates for labels that can be downloaded, printed and added to outgoing correspondence. The messaging on the labels encourage the public to consider who decides if they can’t, and to take appropriate action. Since many lawyers communicate electronically with their clients, electronic messaging and links, which can be added to outgoing emails, will also be made available. Our OBA POA Month video serves to educate members of the general public about the importance of having powers of attorney. Should you be interested in participating in our campaign, I invite you to contact me at Pascale@OBA.org.
April is the OBA’s Make a Power of Attorney Month.
The OBA has prepared a number of resources for our members to help get the message out about the value of making a Power of Attorney:
- a grassroots social media campaign
- a member marketing kit that will include templates for mailing labels and email signatures
- an online portal that the public can use to learn more about Power of Attorneys and even
- Find a Power of Attorney Lawyer in their community that can create one for them (along with a Will of course)
Take advantage of these resources on oba.org/For-the-Public/POA