I just wrapped up meetings this weekend in Montreal with the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Young Lawyers conference. The National Directorate from across Canada conducted brainstorming and discussions on issues of importance to young lawyers, particularly the future of the profession.
As expected, the articling debate in Ontario has been closely watched in other jurisdictions. Young lawyers across Canada are thinking deeply about where entry to practice licensing should end up. You can read some of my thoughts about the motion passed this week at Convocation in an article yesterday by Kirk Makin in The Globe.
But as we all know, the challenges facing lawyers don’t end with entry to the profession. Instead of work-life balance, the term “life integration” is being preferred as a more accurate way to descibe the competing demands placed on all lawyers. Time at work is very much part of our life, and the two should not necessarily be in opposition with each other. The growth of mobile technologies also means that leaving the office rarely means leaving work behind.
In 2009, Simon Fodden mentioned a talk by Richard Susskind in Toronto, hosted by the CBA. The event coincided with an announcement that Susskind would serve as a special advisor to the CBA. The relationship has led to an inquiry through the Futures Committee, which provides recommendations to make help lawyers relevant.
The issues examined by the Inquiry into the Future of Legal Practice include:
• Economic, social, legal and technological factors likely to influence the market for legal services in 2020 and beyond;
• Likely shifts in client demands – from major companies through to individual consumers;
• Organization and structure of the profession and of legal businesses so that legal services remain relevant and robust;
• Training and education of the next generation of lawyers; and
• Implications of these issues for the regulation of the profession.
The Committee has provided previous reports in 2004 and 2005, although quite a bit has changed since the consultations held during that period.
The report emerging from the inquiry currently underway should be worth keeping an eye on, especially since the question of self-regulation has been raised repeatedly here in Ontario during and following the articling debate.