The Profession

LSO in need of revamp: Lesage

By Staff

The recent announcement by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) that it's raising its annual fees for lawyers in 2019 is yet another example of how the organization appears oblivious to the plight of its members, Toronto litigator Michael Lesage tells

While the increase is modest — another $18 a year for lawyers, bringing the total to $2,201 — fees are already too high, says Lesage, who practises insurance, business law, personal injury, malpractice and other liabilities at Michael’s Law Firm.

“A few years ago, Canadian Business published statistics showing the median salary of a lawyer is about $80,000 a year,” he says. “That’s lower than other professionals who also pay lower fees to their professional bodies. For example, dentists pay $200 a year while doctors pay $1,725. Why are lawyers paying so much which is out of line with our income?”

Not all lawyers charge $1,000 an hour and occupy swanky offices on Bay St., Lesage says. The vast majority of Ontario’s lawyers work long hours for much less than people assume, particularly once they cover even modest overheads such as an office and other expenses like Errors and Omissions insurance, he says.

“On top of that, we have to spend two unpaid days a year undergoing mandatory continuing education,” Lesage says.

The LSO says the fees cover “continued implementation of recommendations from the Indigenous Review Panel and the Indigenous Framework, continued support for the regulator’s public awareness campaign, improvements to the Practice Management Helpline, and development of a new licence for the provision of some family law legal services.”

Lesage, who is seeking election to the LSO’s governing body, says restructuring is needed, adding that it’s time to bring fiscal responsibility to the organization.

He wants to see tougher bar exams and fewer of them to slow the entry of new lawyers into the profession, saying there are already too many to meet the declining demand.

“Simply put, there are too many lawyers in Ontario and adding to the supply just doesn’t make sense for anyone — not the profession nor the clients,” says Lesage

“I will push common-sense solutions, such as using technology to allow lawyers to save time and money, which also benefits the public,” he says. “I will also push for belt-tightening at the LSO, including fewer Call to the Bar ceremonies.”

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