Tired of ABS fear-mongering.
Tired of disingenuous and protectionist arguments made by those who know very little about ABS – yet are fiercely opposed to it.
And tired of the misinformation being floated by ABS opponents.
Now I know what it was like in the McCarthy-era.
Lawyers (particularly trial lawyers) are trained to argue a position based on logic and evidence – not hyperbole and emotion.
OTLA’s recent pronouncements in the Law Times on December 29, 2014, are particularly troubling:
“We have studied ABS from the time it was first raised by the law society in the summer of 2013, through the release of the CBA Futures report, to the LSUC paper released just this past fall,” said Charles Gluckstein, immediate past-president of the OTLA. “As an association, we do not accept that there are any compelling reasons to move ahead on ABS.”
This however, is merely opinion, not logic – and it’s devoid of any evidence in support. Amusingly, OTLA has provided no compelling reason not to move forward with ABS.
“The proof is just not there,” added Gluckstein. “No matter where it’s been implemented —– whether it’s Australia or the United Kingdom — ABS has not resulted in greater access to justice, lower costs for consumers, nor has it facilitated technological advancements and innovation in the profession. “Despite what the main proponents suggest, ABS is no panacea for any real or perceived ills within the legal profession,” he said.
Sadly OTLA’s “research” is flawed.
OTLA’s “research” seems to have completely missed Salvos Law in Australia.
Salvos Law is owned by the Salvation Army, something that is not permitted in Ontario.
Since its creation in 2010, Slavos Law has conducted over 11,000 pro bono cases in Australia – all at no cost to taxpayers, Legal Aid or even to the Salvation Army.
Perhaps OTLA’s members have conducted a similar number of pro bono cases in the last 4 years. Perhaps OTLA could share its data on this point.
Perhaps helping 11,000 people who could not otherwise afford legal services, at no cost to anyone, is not a compelling reason for OTLA to support ABS. If so, perhaps OTLA could share its metrics for determining what would be a compelling reason. 12,000? 20,000?
Salvos Law is really two firms: Salvos Legal (which is a commercial law firm) and Salvos Humanitarian (a pro bono law firm) – both are wholly owned by the Salvation Army (again not allowed in Ontario). All profits from Salvos Legal fund the work of Salvos Humanitarian.
In 2014, Salvos Law won the very prestigious Australian Law Firm of the Year Award, beating every other law firm in the country. Perhaps OTLA does not consider winning such an honour to be a compelling reason in favour of ABS; again perhaps OTLA could share its metrics for making such a determination.
OTLA’s “research” should have come across Vancouver’s Pivot Legal. In the early part of this century, Pivot Legal tried to create a structure similar to Salvos Law.
An admirable attempt, but unfortunately it failed.
Failure was due to a number of reasons, but most importantly, it was due to a lack of affordable capital, and lack of business management skills. Two things that ABS would bring to law firms.
Again, if OTLA does not see Pivot Legal’s failure versus Salvos Law’s success as compelling, perhaps it should provide an explanation.
As for innovation and technological advancement, OTLA’s “research” has also missed out on Riverview Law in the UK, and Slater & Gordon in Australia. Both firms are miles ahead of every other law firm around the globe in terms of technology – I know, because I’ve actually been to their offices. Both firms have stream-lined the “process” of legal services delivery to make the client experience better and more affordable; both firms were built through access to outside capital.
In fact, Slater and Gordon’s mission statement is: To give everyday people easier access to world class legal services. How many law firms in Ontario have a similiar mission statement?
Legislation in Australia has permitted outside investment in law firms since 2000. So, it’s hardly at the experimental stage. Anyone who suggests otherwise, is being disingenuous.
Finally, what OTLA has forgotten, and by doing so, done a grave disservice to its members, is that ABS provides an exit strategy for lawyers seeking to retire from law.
We hear so much about the so-called “greying of the bar” and that older lawyers have no one to sell their practices to; so they simply close them. Lawyers spend a lifetime building something only to watch it quietly slip away into nothing.
Even mediocre “research” would have found that many UK ABS applications are from small firms – I imagine similar in size to that of many OTLA members – who use conversion to an ABS as an exit strategy, and a way to allow their staff to share in profits. In Australia, Kain C+C Lawyers is a small firm of 17 lawyers which converted to ABS in order to source management expertise that lawyers simply don’t have.
Even the simplest “research” would have found that in Australia, Slater and Gordon has grown through acquiring practices, not destroying them – providing many “greying” Australian lawyers with an exit strategy.
Given these huge “misses” by OTLA, one has to wonder if it did any “research” at all, and whether its fierce opposition is grounded more in emotion, than evidence and logic.
In response to Mr. Gluckstein’s “demand,” I am running for Bencher in 2015, and I am in favour of ABS.
So, OTLA, I have now provided you with the evidence that your “research” missed.
Now, please show me some evidence to support your position that ABS should not be permitted in Ontario.