The Law Society of Upper Canada has a new governing board for the years 2011–15, following the election, on April 29, 2011, of 40 directors from a list of 106 candidates.
Eighteen of the 40 elected benchers are women, tying the 2007 result, which was the highest number of women ever elected. In 2003, 11 women were elected.
“This is an excellent board and well-equipped to lead the Law Society through the challenges and opportunities of the next four years,” said Law Society Treasurer Laurie H. Pawlitza. “We have a broad range of legal expertise and skill in this group of men and women. I am confident that they will carefully consider the matters we will address in meeting the Law Society’s mandate to govern in the public interest. It is encouraging to see so many women engaged in the leadership of the profession. They are role models for the increasing number of women called to the bar each year.”
15,592 lawyers voted in 2011, representing 37 per cent of the profession, and reversing a longer-term trend of declining voter turnout. The turnout in 2007 was 34.5 per cent.
Every four years, Ontario lawyers elect 40 benchers, 20 from inside Toronto and 20 from outside Toronto, to sit on the Law Society’s governing board – referred to as Convocation. Eight of the 40 benchers are regional benchers — the candidates who received the highest number of votes from voters in their own electoral region. The remaining 32 benchers are the 13 candidates from outside Toronto who received the most votes from all voters and the 19 candidates from inside Toronto who received the most votes from all voters.The regions are Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), East (E), Central East (CE), Central West (CW), Central South (CS), Southwest (SW) and Toronto.
For more information, see Benchers Inside Toronto and Benchers Outside Toronto.
Complete list of results
In addition to the 40 elected lawyer benchers, the Law Society's governing body, Convocation, also includes two elected paralegal benchers and eight lay benchers (non-lawyers and non-paralegals) appointed by the province. There are also a number of ex-officio benchers.
Benchers meet regularly to formulate policy on matters related to the governance of the legal profession. They also participate on Law Society committees and sit on hearing panels to hear conduct, capacity and competence proceedings.
The head of the Law Society is called the Treasurer, who presides over Convocation and is elected by benchers.
The Law Society governs legal service providers in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct, and by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.