Another Law Society of Ontario bencher election is in the books, with plenty of new faces set to take their places at Convocation. These 40 people will decide policy related to the governance of legal professions in Ontario and the provision of legal services in the province. They can also be appointed to the Law Society Tribunal.
Overall, 16,156 lawyers voted during the election period, which ended on April 30. This represents 30 per cent of eligible voters, which is down from 34 per cent in 2015. This follows a recent pattern of decline in participation, with 37 per cent having voted in 2011. There were a total of 128 lawyer candidates (54 in Toronto and 74 outside Toronto). Jack Braithwaite was acclaimed in the Northeast as the only candidate from that region.
In Toronto, only six of the 20 benchers will be returning for another term. This includes Treasurer Malcolm Mercer. Outside Toronto, which comprises seven regions collectively (Northwest, Northeast, East, Central East, Central West, Central South and Southwest), the situation mirrors Toronto, with six incumbent benchers successfully returning to their seats.
22 of the elected benchers are members of the Ontario Bar Association.
Regional breakdowns of successful candidates remain relatively equal and spread out, and are similar to the results seen in 2015. They are:
Central East 4
Central West 4
Central South 3
Out of the 40 benchers elected, the candidates who receive the most votes in their region are considered Regional Benchers. Following 2019 results, these benchers are:
Toronto: Murray Klippenstein
Northwest: Etienne Esquega
Northeast: Jack Braithwaite
East: Cheryl Lean
Central East: Joseph Chiummiento
Central West: Gary Graham
Central South: Andrew Spurgeon
Southwest: Gerard Charette
The practice areas the new benchers identified themselves with during the campaign include:
- Real estate and estate planning
- Criminal law
- Corporate/commercial law
- Public sector
- General practitioner
- Family law
- Employment law
- Tax planning
- Securities law
- Personal injury
- Aboriginal law
- Crown prosecutor
This year, 27.5 per cent of benchers who were elected are women. This is down from 40 per cent in 2015, and 45 per cent in both 2007 and 2011.
The first Convocation featuring the new crop of benchers was on May 23 at Osgoode Hall.
UPDATE: During the June 27 Convocation, Malcolm Mercer was re-elected and will serve as LSO Treasurer for a second term.
For more, including lawyer tabulation, visit: https://lso.ca/about-lso/governance/bencher-election-2019.