Convocation votes overwhelmingly to change the Law Society’s name at next meeting
To further its commitment to facilitating access to justice for Ontarians, Convocation voted overwhelmingly to change the Law Society’s name at its next meeting in November and to discontinue use of the words “Upper Canada.”
The initial name change motion, which was amended from the floor, was put forward by the Law Society’s Strategic Communications Steering Group. After lengthy discussion, 38 Benchers voted in favour of the amended motion, while 11 opposed it. The motion stated that options for a new name will be developed and brought to the next Convocation for decision.
The steering group was established in response to the Law Society’s strategic priority to engage stakeholders and the public with responsive communications. The group directs and works with Law Society staff to develop communications initiatives and plans to build a better understanding of its work and services among the public.
The Law Society also commissioned independent research as part of its work to enhance engagement with the public and members. Feedback from surveys of the public showed that most people are not familiar with the Law Society and its regulatory role, and that the name contributes to numerous challenges and barriers to inclusion.
“Our role at the Law Society is to act in the public interest and serve the public, which means we need to be more visible and establish ourselves as the place to turn for legal help and information,” said Law Society Treasurer Paul Schabas. “It had become apparent that the ‘Upper Canada’ part of our name, while liked by many in the profession, was not only confusing for the public, but actually was a barrier to people contacting us, or knowing who we are and what we do,” he said.
The name change on November 2 is part of a robust communications initiative, Treasurer Schabas noted. A full public awareness campaign will be considered by Convocation. Research also showed that Ontarians want to learn more about what to do when they need legal help, how to find it — and to better understand the services that lawyers and paralegals provide.
See the Strategic Communications Steering Group Report for more information.