The Profession

Sole practitioners need a seat at LSO table: Lesage

By Tony Poland, Associate Editor

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) needs benchers who are sole practitioners with experience in personal injury law, candidate Michael Lesage tells

“As a personal injury lawyer, I deal with everyday people, and on occasion, their very serious problems. I know what it takes to represent their interests and, in our system, I know what it costs,” he says.

“I know how our courts work and, owing to my time working in the United States, I have a number of ideas to address those challenges, including pushing for revisions to rules that delay actions and waste scarce judicial resources.”

Lesage, who practises insurance, business law, personal injury, malpractice and other liabilities at Michael’s Law Firm, says he believes it is important for sole practitioners to have a say at Convocation.

“I believe that the law society is increasingly out of touch with the realities of the average lawyer, and specifically those lawyers practising in small firms and smaller towns,” he says. “The business of law is changing, and I don't believe that the current benchers recognize that or are reflective of that.

He has the endorsement of personal injury lawyer Alfred M. Kwinter, founding partner of Singer Kwinter, who says Lesage is “somebody who I believe will get things done.”

“Michael is a very sincere and hard-working person, and he is most importantly a sole practitioner,” says Kwinter. “I believe we need the voice of a small firm and sole practitioner on the law society to represent that sector of the profession. There are just too few people in that position currently serving as benchers.”

Kwinter says Lesage has a “keen understanding of people’s needs and is appreciative of some of the issues which face the public today such as fees, victims’ rights, and advertising.”

“I also believe that his knowledge of other jurisdictions will be a valuable asset,” he says.

Lesage would bring a much-needed voice to the LSO, Kwinter says.

As a former director of The Advocates' Society, "I understand what it is like to be sitting among large firm people and hearing their concerns,” he says. “The concerns of a small firm and sole practitioner are totally different from those of large firm members. I believe the law society needs Michael to represent that sector of the profession.”

Kwinter says Lesage has a “very serious concern for the number of lawyers currently in Ontario” and can make a meaningful contribution as a bencher.

“His ideas are progressive, and I have no question that he will work in the best interest of the LSO,” he says. “Given his experience, compassion and desire to work on behalf of accident victims, I believe he will do whatever he can within his power to shape LSO policy in favour of those less-advantaged members of society he represents.”

If elected, Lesage says he will:

  • push for common-sense solutions, such as using technology to allow lawyers to save time and money
  • encourage belt-tightening at the LSO
  • advocate for tougher bar exams
  • endeavour to keep bad ideas from Convocation by insisting on further committee study and more discussion and debate

Lesage says there are five key points in his platform: LSO inefficiency, civil expenses, the overabundance of lawyers, rising society fees, and poor judgment shown in such matters as the expanded scope of paralegal practice into family law along with the issue of Alternative Business Structures (ABS).

As someone who runs a small firm and “wears many hats,” he says he believes he has something to bring to the table at Convocation.

“Being a sole practitioner, I'm used to having to rely upon myself to get things done. I don't have a legion of associates or assistants to look after things, so I see both where time is spent on files and the services clients value — and those they don't,” Lesage explains.

“I recognize that being a lawyer in Ontario is a challenging job and I think that all too often, the LSO treats its members in an adversarial way — it's time for that to change. I also think its time to hold the law society to account.”

Forty lawyer benchers will be elected — 20 from inside Toronto and 20 from outside. The deadline for voting is 5 p.m. April 30, 2019.

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