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LSO boldly leaps into the '20th Century'

Now that the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) has dropped “Upper Canada” from its name, Toronto litigator Michael Lesage tells AdvocateDaily.com the regulator might want to look at modernizing other aspects of the profession.

Lesage, who practises insurance, business law, personal injury, malpractice and other liabilities at Michael’s Law Firm, says the name change could signal that the LSO is considering joining the digital age.

“While Upper Canada changed its name in 1841, becoming the United Province of Canada until 1867, then Ontario, I salute the LSO for this brave and bold step after a mere 177 year period of prudent deliberation," he jokes. “I’m happy they didn’t rush into anything and look forward to their continued leadership on the pressing issues of the day, such as the need for further regulation of the ubiquitous horse and buggy or consideration of the issues posed were humans to achieve powered flight.”

Proponents of the regulator’s name change — despite resistance from some members — suggest it reflects the need to modernize and become more relevant.

“Perhaps it’s a small step on a long journey towards joining the present, and I think that’s wonderful,” Lesage says. “Maybe now we can look at lawyers filing electronically across the board instead of clear-cutting small forests to print paper copies that must be filed in person? Likewise, perhaps its time to look at electronic standards for the exchange of documents and admission of documents in court, rather than relying upon Sedona’s principles of agreeing to agree?"

Lesage is being sarcastic but says he’s frustrated by the lack of progress with issues of modernization facing the justice system.

He recently applauded an announcement by Attorney General of Ontario Yasir Naqvi on a plan to modernize the provincial justice system but says there’s still much work to be done.

"Modernization and digitization will have a much bigger impact on the profession and may actually reduce some of the costs of litigation,” he adds.

A passionate advocate for the increased use of technology in the courts, Lesage says he’s continuing his fight because — despite glacial moves by the Ministry of the Attorney General to modernize — he’s skeptical it may be too little, too late.

“We need systems that aren’t too expensive or proprietary-based,” he says. “Let’s look at simple, tested, off-the-shelf solutions.

“I’m obviously being somewhat tongue-in-cheek here and I mean no great offense to the LSO but the profession needs to move forward at a much quicker pace,” Lesage says. “For example, it’s 2018, yet to change the name of a client on a case caption can take close to 10 hours if the other side opposes.

“It really is time for change.”

 

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