The Law Society of Upper
Canada (LSUC) is responsible for the self-regulation of
lawyers in the Canadian province of
Founded in 1797, it is known in French
as "Le Barreau du Haut-Canada". The
motto of the Society is "Let Right Prevail".
History and function
The Law Society of Upper Canada
created almost 20 years before the earliest such association in any
other Canadian province or territory. The creation of this
self-governing body by an Act of the Legislature was an
innovation in the English-speaking world and it became the model
for law societies across Canada and the
It is one of the oldest Law Societies in the
English speaking world.
In 1994, the Law Society affirmed its role by adopting the
following Role Statement: "The Law Society of Upper Canada exists
to govern the legal profession in the public interest by ensuring
that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers who meet high
standards of learning, competence and professional conduct, and
upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal
profession, for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and
the rule of law."
The Law Society regulates approximately 40,000 lawyers (barristers
and solicitors) in Ontario. It is responsible for ensuring that
lawyers are both ethical and competent. The Society has the power
to set standards for admission into the profession. It can
discipline lawyers who violate those standards. Available sanctions
range from admonitions to disbarment
based in Toronto, at Osgoode Hall.
Effective May 1, 2007, as a result of amendments to the Law
, the Law Society regulates approximately 2000
licensees in Ontario. Paralegals
are licensed to provide limited legal services, such as providing
representation before provincial tribunals.
Effective March 8, 2008, the benchers
Convocation, who also serve as impartial adjudicators at discipline
hearings and corporate directors at Convocation, voted to begin
revealing tribunal decisions wherein members won at hearings.
Decisions favouring members made prior to that date remain hidden.
No complete registry of matters heard is made available to the
bench, bar or public, creating an insurmountable hurdle for those
wishing to perform legal research on the secretive regulator. The
conflicting roles of corporate director, impartial adjudicator and
lawyer have been a source of heated debate.
The society is headed by a Treasurer. He or she is selected by, and
from among, the Benchers, who comprise "Convocation" - in effect,
the Society's board of directors
as the Society is an Ontario Corporation without share capital. All
lawyer-benchers are elected by the Society's members, and eight lay
Benchers are appointed by the provincial government. Section 12(2)
of the Law Society Act, R.S.O. 1990, provides that Ontario's
Bencher of convocation while Section 13(1) provides that the
Attorney General is "Guardian of the Public Interest" and, as such,
may require the production of any document or thing possessed by
the regulator. The regulator falls under the supervision of the
Ministry of the Attorney General, according to the ministry's web
The current Treasurer is W. Derry Miller. The current CEO, or staff
head, of the Society, is Malcolm Heins. In 2006, the Law Society
had close to 400 staff.
The Law Society of Upper Canada was successfully sued for wrongful
dismissal and punitive damages in 1997 by its registrar L. Brown,
according to the report of this case in the All Canada Weekly
Summaries. However, it now strives to be known as
In October 2008, the Law Society was named one of Greater Toronto's Top
by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by the
2. www.lsuc.on.ca3. Department of Justice of Canada4. The Charter
Digests5. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms6. Law Society Act,