Convocation approves changes for ex officio and emeritus Benchers

Posted: 11/30/2018

Convocation approved recommendations on November 30, 2018, that will result in changes to the rights and privileges of ex officio and emeritus Benchers, effective for the next Bencher term, which begins in the spring of 2019.

Presented in a report by the Law Society’s Governance Task Force, the recommendations were developed based on the Task Force’s research, information provided by Benchers and the input from the call for comment launched in August 2018.

Convocation voted against a recommendation to end the offices of emeritus Treasurer. A recommendation to change the term limit for elected benchers from 12 to eight years, effective for the Bencher election in 2023, was also defeated.

As well, Convocation tabled a recommendation to adopt new Governance Practices and Policies for the Law Society, which incorporates a Bencher Code of Conduct.

Future Consideration

The Task Force determined that certain structural and other governance changes, as outlined in the Report, be considered at a future date. These include:

  • ending all ex officio Bencher positions in Convocation,
  • reducing the number of elected Benchers,
  • modifying the length of the Treasurer’s term of office, and
  • modernizing the terminology used to described the board, board members and the president of the Law Society.

Convocation also recommended that consideration of changes to committees, including the number and size of committees, and meeting schedules, should await future consideration in keeping with its proposal for an incremental approach to governance reform — and determining the effect of the initial changes that come into effect in 2019.

“This approach will help Convocation assess the changes and assist it in recommending the most appropriate future changes,” says Law Society Treasurer Malcolm Mercer.

This is the Task Force’s fourth report to Convocation. Since its formation in September 2016 and in addition to the work leading up to this report, the Task Force also recommended a single election date for the election of lawyer and paralegal benchers, which Convocation approved in May 2017.

More information about the work of the Governance Task Force is available online.


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