THE ADVOCATE 383
VOL. 76 PART 3 MAY 2018
In light of recent experience in Ontario, some people might question the
eighth objective—equity, diversity and inclusion. When viewing the eighth
element, however, it is important to note that the Law Society is not asking
firms or their lawyers to declare support for, or to promote, the principles
engaged. Element eight is included to encourage firms to turn their mind
to and develop policies and processes to deal with the Human Rights Code
and workplace safety legislation, which require firms to implement human
rights protections and address issues such as bullying and workplace
harassment as well as consider the broader principles of equity, diversity
and inclusion in their workplace policies.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR LAW FIRMS AND THE PROFESSION AT
Law firm regulation should provide law firms with the tools they need to
improve practice management, so that the lawyers at those firms can focus
on the practice of law. Law firms are an important part of the legal profession.
As noted earlier, it is perhaps surprising that they are not currently regulated.
The form of regulation chosen to regulate firms is a new direction,
as the Law Society endeavours to proactively support the development of
robust practice management structures and positive professional cultures in
the entities through which many legal services in the province are provided.
In effect, the Law Society is trying to leverage the benefit that strong,
positive firm cultures can have on the practice of law in order to reduce
instances of unprofessional behaviour. Firms that create or maintain policies
and processes that address the elements identified under the law firm
regulation scheme will have management structures in place that, the Law
Society believes, and studies elsewhere bear out, will address practice
issues before they result in complaints. Over time, this aims to increase the
effectiveness of regulation, reduce the associated costs and improve
lawyers’ practices and the public’s confidence in the legal profession.
This is proactive regulation in action. Rather than setting standards and
sanctioning firms that fail to comply with them, the Law Society is setting
expected outcomes and will be working with firms to assist them in achieving
those outcomes. How firms develop and implement policies and
processes to achieve these outcomes will be largely left to firms to determine,
recognizing that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
As stated above, law firms should expect to see some communication from
the Law Society concerning registration beginning in May 2018. Firms will