When a Profession Ignores Good Decision-Making Processes

I should be happy with The Professional Development & Competence Committee’s (“PDCC”) recent flip flop on its recommendation for the Law Practice Program (“LPP”). But I’m not.

This flip flop only reinforces my belief that Benchers are poor decision-makers who come to conclusions based not on logic and a clear set of measurable criteria, but rather on gut-feel and popular opinion – and that makes me sad.

I’m sad that Benchers don’t understand their role as the board of directors for the Law Society.

I’m sad that Benchers don’t understand good decision-making processes.

But mostly I’m sad because Benchers don’t seem to care about these issues at all.

The legal services industry is in the throes of reformation and this is exactly the wrong time for lawyers to have a governing body that is nothing more than a weather vane spinning around according to the whims of the noisiest group of lawyers.

Convocation is not a parliament, nor is it the voice of the legal profession.

Convocation’s role is to make decisions in accordance with the duties and functions set out in The Law Society Act; making decisions based upon popularity among lawyers is not a statutory requirement.

Good decision-making clearly defines the standards by which a decision will be determined at the beginning of the process. In this case the PDCC would have stated at the very beginning of its report that its recommendation would be based upon a defined set of criteria with a defined set of weighted measurables. The PDCC report would have also identified why those criteria, measurables and weightings were relevant to the decision to be made. Finally the PDCC report would have also made a decision statement along the lines of, “Convocation asked PDCC to determine if LPP was better or worse training than Articling.”

If this had been done the Benchers on the PDCC would have been able to focus on the relevant issues and come to a clear defensible decision. Instead the PDCC resorted to gut-feel, politics and in the case of two Benchers, indecision.

Due to a flawed process the PDCC made a poor, indefensible decision from which it quickly retreated when the winds of fortune changed.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Most, if not all, decisions made by Convocation suffer from the same lack of a defined, relevant and measureable process.

Both the profession and the citizens of Ontario continue to suffer as a result.

The Treasurer needs to sort this out, and fast.

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