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Articling Debate Exposes Convocation’s Flaws

Today the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) once again considered the issue of what to do with articling in Ontario.

Once again, the matter was webcast so that all could see the debate.

Once again, viewers were shocked by what they saw.

Once again, Benchers came across as clubby and out-of-touch.

Time and again, they stood up and made verbose, rambling arguments based on nothing more than anecdotes, personal experience and emotional pleas.

Given that most are litigators, it’s astounding that so many do not understand how to make brief, pithy remarks; they’ve clearly been trained (perhaps during articling) to only stop speaking when nearly dead from oxygen-starvation.

Empirical evidence was glaringly absent in the debate – this alone should raise red flags over whether or not the debate was driven by logic and reason.

Still, far too many Benchers wanted even more study of the issue. It seems that the work of the special committee was taken very lightly by some Benchers (who didn’t do nearly the same amount of study themselves).

Even when Lay Bencher Marion Boyd rose to suggest that as a representative of the public (remembering that LSUC is supposed to act in the public interest, not in accordance with the whims of those who elect them), the public demands a decision, many Benchers blithely suggested that more time was needed.

In the end, the decision was finally made to move forward with the Majority Proposal at a vote of 36 to 20.

What the past two viewings of Convocation have shown me is that the usefulness of Convocation to manage LSUC has finally run its course. And it also suggests to me that the natural life cycle for the self-governance of the profession is also at an end.