Public invited to apply to sit on discipline and credentials hearing panels

The Law Society is inviting members of the public to apply to participate in its hearing panels. Starting June 1, ads began ­appearing in newspapers across the province seeking qualified applicants.

The Benchers decided to expand ­tribunal membership to include non-Bencher lawyers and non-lawyers to create greater public confidence in the hearing process.

Hearing panels will consist of a current lawyer Bencher as chair, another ­lawyer who is not a Bencher selected from a lawyer hearing panel pool and an individual who is not a lawyer selected from a non-lawyer pool. Lawyers were invited to apply for the non-Bencher lawyer pool in the Spring 2011 Benchers’ Bulletin, March E-Brief and through the website.

The hearing process already includes some non-lawyers, by the inclusion of the Appointed Benchers. This new group of people that will be called upon for panels will further expand the role the public plays in the regulatory process.

Hearings are important to the Society’s role in ensuring lawyers meet high standards of professional conduct, learning and competence. Hearing panels hear cases about alleged discipline violations and incompetence, as well as the character and fitness of new lawyer applicants.

“There is growing public scrutiny of self-regulatory organizations, and we are taking a number of proactive measures, including this one, to maintain confidence in the Law Society’s regulatory process,” said President Gavin Hume, QC.

The response has been excellent. In the first two days after the ads appeared, the web page has had over 600 hits from people wanting more information, and we have received over 60 applications.

As well, over 130 lawyers applied for the lawyer pool.

All applications are being carefully considered, and we expect to make the final selections for both pools by the end of summer.

For more information about the conditions and qualifications required, see the Law Society website.

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