The Manitoba Co-op Housing Tribunal is looking for panel members. They are seeking lawyers with experience in housing issues and administrative law to oversee hearings as the chair of a 3 person panel (with 2 community members) and to draft decisions based on the written and oral evidence presented. Often the parties are unrepresented so the tribunal member should also be able to explain all the relevant rules & laws and make sure the parties understand the potential consequences, while maintaining impartiality. No legal training is provided and your work will be scrutinized by a public servant with a background in finance. As the presiding member, you will be compensated at a flat rate of $336.00 per decision.
Full disclosure: I was a member of the Manitoba Co-op Housing Tribunal from March 2015 until July 2017 when I resigned my position. Subsequently, I have been contacted by the tribunal due to a lack of interest within the legal community and I agreed to assist to find new members.
I will say that, overall, my experience at the tribunal was positive. Working with the community members (who have an equal vote on the panel) can be a challenge but it is also an opportunity to explain how legal principles are applied. There are often internal personal grievances aired out during the hearings. Some community members are aware of the internal politics within the other housing co-ops and it can be interesting to hear how that information may influence their decisions. This position has given me an entirely new perspective on how folks live together in a co-op.
I will say that interested lawyers should be aware of the commitment beforehand. In one case, we were dealing with a situation of a co-op member with mental health issues who was living with her daughter and her granddaughter. Tensions with her neighbours and the housing co-op clearly ran deep. The 3 of us on the panel had lengthy discussions on how to best draft the decision to respect the positions of all the parties. In the end, we spent many hours to ensure we were clear and sensitive to the issues.
Lastly, I need to say something about compensation. I will preface by saying that I am very fortunate to have a workplace where we take work based on the legal issues and needs of the client, not based on their financial resources. We accept Legal Aid Certificates and we do work pro bono through the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program. I did a rough calculation based on the hours and compensation for the work done at the tribunal and I was paid slightly more than minimum wage.
In a conversation with the Deputy Superintendent at the Manitoba Financial Institutions Regulations Branch (directed to oversee the tribunal), they explain they are seeking lawyers who are interested in the experience of serving on a tribunal and, in his words, to “broaden their resume”. If you are interested, you may contact the Manitoba Financial Institutions Regulations Branch.