A detailed analysis of the results of the 2014 Paralegal Bencher Election is now available. The analysis shows a reasonably wide geographic distribution of voters, as well as a good distribution based on age and years of practice.
Voter turnout fell when compared to the first paralegal election in 2010.
Beyond the Law Society's extensive communication campaign around the 2014 election, which included use of social media and the legal press, the Law Society will consider what more it can do to increase voting in the next election.
Five paralegals elected to join Law Society's governing body
Ontario’s licensed paralegals elected five of their peers to become Law Society benchers and members of the Paralegal Standing Committee during an online election held March 12 to 31, 2014.
The five elected paralegals are: Robert Burd of Brampton, Cathy Corsetti of Mississauga, Michelle L. Haigh, of Burlington, Brian Lawrie of Mississauga and Marian Lippa of Newmarket. As benchers, they will participate in and vote at Convocation, the Law Society’s governing body. The length of the term of office is four years.
The election was the second to be held since the Law Society began regulating Ontario’s paralegals in 2007. Passage last December of Bill 111, Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act, 2013, increased the number of paralegal benchers from two to five.
Through the Paralegal Standing Committee, elected paralegals play a prominent role in the governance of their profession by developing policy options relating to the regulation and licensing of paralegals. Paralegal benchers also sit as adjudicators to consider cases related to the licensing, competence, conduct and capacity of paralegals.
“Convocation is pleased to welcome the five elected paralegal benchers,” says Law Society Treasurer Thomas G. Conway. “Their participation at Convocation will enhance the governance of the profession.”
Order of standing from the 2014 Paralegal Bencher Election
The Voting Guide for the 2014 Paralegal Bencher Election is still available online.
New legislation that received Royal Assent on December 12, 2013, will enhance Law Society governance by increasing the number of elected paralegal benchers from two to five.
Bill 111, Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act, 2013 was introduced by Attorney General John Gerretsen on October 1, 2013, following governance reforms adopted by the Law Society’s board of directors last spring.
Previously, two of the five licensed paralegals elected as members of the Law Society’s Paralegal Standing Committee were elected as benchers and participated as voting members of Convocation. Now, all five paralegals will be elected as benchers and will be members of the Paralegal Standing Committee.
Elected paralegals play a prominent role in the governance of their profession, and the Law Society encourages all licensed paralegals to take part by considering running for election or nominating a colleague, and voting. Paralegals in Ontario whose licences are not suspended are eligible to stand as a candidate, nominate a candidate or vote.
Voting will begin the second week of March 2014, and will close at 5 p.m. EDT on March 31, 2014. The election will be conducted entirely online.
Paralegals must ensure that the Law Society has their current unique email address on record, as voting instructions will be sent by email.
Conduct of Election
The 2014 Election of Paralegals to the Paralegal Standing Committee will be conducted in accordance with the Law Society Act and By-Law 3 made pursuant to the Law Society Act. The election will be conducted entirely online and in both French and English.
The Law Society has hired Computershare, a third party company, to conduct the election.
Computershare will email voting information to all eligible voters during the second week of March 2014.
Computershare will randomly assign a control number to every eligible voter. The control number is a personal voter identification number. Only Computershare knows the numbers assigned to eligible voters. The control number is required to access the Internet voting system.
Voters who do not receive, or who lose or delete, their control number must contact Computershare at 1-866-301-2518. Voters will be asked to provide their licensee number and other personal identifiers to receive their control number.
Licensed paralegals whose licenses on March 7, 2014 are not suspended are eligible to vote in the election.
The Law Society of Upper Canada will produce a Voting Guide to provide voters with information about the candidates running in the election. All candidates were invited to submit a photograph, biographical statement and election statement, which reflect their views only, for inclusion in the Voting Guide. The Voting Guide will be available on Computershare's election website throughout the election period, and will be available of the Law Society's website.
Five licensed paralegals will be elected.
During the second week in March 2014, all eligible voters will receive an email from Computershare that will include voting instructions and the control number for each voter. This control number is required to access the election website and the Internet voting system. The email will provide voters with access to the online Internet voting system and the online Voting Guide. The voting instructions will provide detailed information on how to vote online.
On the day the election opens online, voters will go to the election website through the link provided by Computershare, where they will be prompted to enter their control number to access the voting site. Once they are logged into the system, the list of candidates will be displayed and voters will be instructed on how to vote online.
Voters select candidates by clicking the boxes next to the candidates' names. The system will not permit voters to vote for more than five candidates. Once voters have made their selections, voters click the "Submit" button. Voters will then be prompted to review their selections and make any changes they want prior to final submission of their votes. Once the votes are submitted, voters will receive a confirmation message that their votes have been submitted.
Voters can cast five votes in total. Voters are not required to cast all five of their votes. Voters may only vote for a candidate once. Voters can submit their votes only once.
The five candidates who receive the highest number of votes will be elected.
The deadline for voting is March 31, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The Internet voting system will shut down at precisely 5:00 p.m. EDT on March 31, 2014.
Counting Votes and Announcement of Results
Counting of votes will be completed after 5:00 p.m. EDT on March 31, 2014. The election results will be announced by news release and on the Law Society's website once the counting and tabulation of votes has been completed.
For more information, please contact the Law Society at 416-947-3404, 1-877-947-3404 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.