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Civil Litigation, The Profession

Policy needs effective enforcement: bencher candidate Rastin

Barrie-area litigator Steve Rastin, says if elected as a Law Society of Ontario (LSO) bencher, he will strive to find "ways to ensure lawyers can continue to provide outstanding service in an age of disruption.”

Rastin, managing partner with Rastin & Associates, says he is running for bencher because he is “concerned about the future of the profession and the preservation of the independent practitioner."

He says if he is elected his priorities will be:

  • the public interest
  • access to justice
  • effective enforcement of professional competence and professional conduct

Rastin, who has practised civil litigation throughout Ontario from his firm in Barrie, says he wants to ensure LSO policy is applied for the betterment of the profession.

“I think policy is critically important, but it has got to be married with the means of sending a message to the profession and the public that our policies matter and you can see them in action rather than just a discussion at Convocation,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“Say what you mean and mean what you say. We have to pass policies and then live by them. I think that the law society ought to send a message through the enforcement of the rules of professional conduct and ethical behaviour that bad behaviour is not going to be tolerated.”

Rastin says the majority of lawyers he encounters “are good, honest, hard-working folk who want to do the right thing.”

However, Rastin says he has experienced  “a vocal minority of people who are loud enough, who have enough money, who can drown out the majority.”

“So if the majority of lawyers are conducting themselves in an honourable manner but a small vocal minority are misbehaving, all everybody talks about is the vocal minority,” he says.

Rastin says he believes there is an “increased concern about law firms that don't follow the rules of conduct on issues such as advertising and professional behaviour." 

He says he has heard people point to examples of law firms that “bring the reputation of the profession into disrepute” and that “generally lawyers are not as well thought of as they once were.

“I think law is a noble calling. Lawyers are the ones who protect democracy and make sure that people have a voice in our court system and stop unfair laws from moving forward,” Rastin says. “I think anything that undermines the role of lawyers in our society is not in the public interest.”

He points to the example of “what some people call American-style advertising campaigns taking place in Ontario.” Rastin says the LSO has rules governing such behaviour that need to be “aggressively” enforced with stronger deterrents to discourage repeat offences.

“Enforcing rules of professional conduct is for the good of the profession,” he says.

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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