In 2017, we undertook a number of initiatives to help anticipate and meet the needs of an ever-evolving legal landscape — and to strengthen our framework for meaningful and long-lasting change in a number of key areas of our operational mandate.
Our divisions have been developing the groundwork to support an organizational change in approach that will see us engaging more effectively with our stakeholders and, in particular, building a more direct line of communication with the public. We also began to turn our focus to implementing policy initiatives in a more timely, practical and achievable way, to ensure that our licensees are able to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing market and legal professional environment.
To better prepare the organization and our licensees for change, we began operational projects in 2017 that will see the organization improving the way we manage and deliver a number of our key services and resources. To better serve and protect the public, we launched reviews in two critical areas of our mandate: competence and conduct.
We launched a comprehensive review of the lawyer licensing process with Dialogue on Licensing, a province-wide discussion to inform the development of an appropriate, sustainable licensing system for lawyers. We will continue to work closely with the profession on this critical undertaking in the coming months, as we define our competence assessment for lawyers of the future.
Our complaints, investigations and discipline activities are also being realigned to improve efficiency and provide more timely conduct outcomes. New approaches to engaging in our processes, including improved triage and supporting electronic document management, are all at the forefront of the evolution in our regulatory areas.
The Law Society’s Policy Division continues to support our Board with effective and responsive analysis and the development of policies supporting the effective provision of legal services that impact the public and licensees. Getting out ahead of the issues will be a key objective for 2018, with an emphasis on emerging issues and proactive advancement of the organization’s principled approach to regulating in the public interest.
In 2017, operational realignments were made to demonstrate our commitment to improving engagement with the public and licensees. We amalgamated our stakeholder relations, issues management and communications functions to ensure a more holistic approach to our outreach efforts.
As part of the Law Society’s strategic objectives, our Board has also approved a robust public awareness campaign. We are looking forward to more actively engaging the public in discussions about what lawyers and paralegals can do for them, how to find legal help, and the role of the regulator in supporting access to legal services.
I look forward to continuing to build on the thoughtful discussion and enthusiasm for change that we began in 2017.
I would like to commend the staff of the Law Society for their tremendous capability, flexibility and resilience. Not surprisingly, the Law Society was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers in 2017, for the 11th year in a row, thanks to the dedication of our wonderful team.
I also thank the Benchers and Treasurer Paul Schabas, for their continued commitment to the Law Society's ongoing evolution and their enduring support as we move forward with our change efforts.