Benchers Hijack a Convocation Gripped by Fear

What if a law society created an articling task force that canvassed the view of stakeholders over the course of many months, prepared an interim report, then a final report and then asked for a vote.

One would think that a vote would then take place, no?


Today the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Bencher debate was hijacked by a group of Benchers who – wait for it – wanted even more time to study the issues and seek stakeholder input.

The climate of fear in Convocation was palpable as a number of Benchers seemed completely unprepared to vote on an issue that for over a year has been considered to be critical.

Benchers are elected to govern and to make decisions.

Instead, a group of dithering Benchers succeeded in kicking the can down the road to the next Convocation to more carefully consider the matter.

What exactly has this small group of elected (and paid) Benchers been doing since the final report was released?

Apparently, nothing.

One Bencher went so far as to suggest that more time was needed to come up with yet another recommendation to the crisis! I want some of what she was smoking…..

The debate over deferring the debate raged throughout the morning, right up to the morning recess. In that time a number of different motions were put forward, (i) defer the entire matter (ii) defer the debate but allow the presentations, and another that quite frankly I’ve forgotten because I was making a motion toward the coffee station.

In the end, during recess the Benchers agreed to defer the debate to the November Convocation, but allow presentations of the two committee recommendations.

“Impressive” would not be a word that I would use to describe the maelstrom at Convocation.

However, as the very first webcast of Convocation it was successful in throwing back the curtain to expose how the wizard and Convocation really works. LSUC is finally moving in the right direction (now if we could just change the name….).

I hope that this openness will continue and that a fresh slate of Benchers will come forward for the next election, completely undaunted after seeing how Convocation operates – afterall, the newbies could hardly do worse than today, and I’ll bet that many of them would have the good sense and professional courtesy to mute their phones when calling in to Convocation.


  1. What is lacking in many self-regulating organizations, such as the Law Societies in Canada, is an independent public over-sight body to audit their ability and effectiveness to self-regulate including disciplining their membership and themselves. The articling crisis is just the tip of the governance iceberg. I am not at all surprised that the Benchers exercised their power to delay the democratic process; the vote, hoping the problem will eventually solve itself while they continue to study it. I guess in some legal circles if you can delay a crisis, then one doesn’t really need to be concerned that it really is a crisis, eh? Incidently, I spent six years following the yellow brick road and, thus far, their is no wizard of accountability. For now, it is solely the responsibility of the membership to cast the deciding vote on who is fit to represent them in their exclusive “non-smoking” society.

    Mitch, I think the word I would use to describe the event would be directionless.