Multiple legal groups endorse LSO’s Good Governance Coalition, emphasize self-regulation

By Amanda Jerome

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2023 @ 2:06 PM

Law360 Canada (February 21, 2023, 12:19 PM EST) -- The Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA), Group of Racialized Ontario Women Litigators (GROWL) and the Black Female Lawyers Network (BFLN) have all endorsed the bencher Good Governance Coalition (GGC) in the upcoming bencher election at the Law Society of Ontario (LSO).

“The Good Governance Coalition collectively recognizes the existence of systemic racism and each candidate has undertaken to focus on issues of access to justice which are of critical importance to the criminal defence bar and the legal profession at large,” explained a statement released by the CLA, noting that the organization “enthusiastically endorses” the GGC.

The CLA “has supported and continues to support measures to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and believes more must be done to ensure these laudable goals are achieved,” the statement added, emphasizing that the association “also recognizes the importance of preserving lawyers’ ability to self-regulate.”

“This is critical to the independence of the defence bar,” the statement stressed, noting that the members of the GGC are “running to be independent fiduciaries of the LSO’s board of directors, and have undertaken to vote independently and in the public interest.”

Jonathan Rosenthal, Good Governance Coalition

Jonathan Rosenthal, Good Governance Coalition

Jonathan Rosenthal, an incumbent bencher and member of the GGC, said the CLA’s endorsement means the organization “both recognizes the importance of self-regulation and the existence of systemic racism in the legal profession.”

“Self-regulation is a huge privilege. There is no doubt that self-regulation is at risk should the GGC not be successful in this election. Many other legal groups are stepping forward. We have all seen the conduct of the many members of the Full Stop who are intent on dismantling the LSO,” he added.

In an interview with Law360 Canada, Rosenthal explained that “based on the conduct of the majority of members of the Full Stop movement, there’s no doubt” in his mind that “self-regulation will come to an end.”

He noted that if “you look at the conduct” the Full Stop slate has “exhibited over the past three and a half years,” such as “bringing motions to cut fees by 25 per cent without any consideration of what impact that will have on the operations of the law society” or “the savings could come out of professional regulation.”

“The law society’s core mandate is professional regulation. We’re in the regulation business,” he stressed, noting that slate members also suggested doing away with the Bencher Code of Conduct.

“We’re a highly regulated profession. Are they really suggesting that there shouldn’t be rules for benchers who are on the board?” he asked.

“If you cut the budget, and you can’t properly regulate your profession, you’re going to lose it. The law society’s core mandate is to protect the public. It’s not to make money for lawyers but to protect the public. And if you’re not doing that, you’re going to lose the right of self-regulation. Plain and simple,” he added.

“It’s just clear to me that the majority of the slate want to dismantle the law society,” Rosenthal explained, noting that “self-regulation of a law society is not the norm,” but is “really the exception.”

“Self-regulation, especially to criminal lawyers, is paramount. You don’t want to be regulated by the Attorney General who’s prosecuting your clients,” Rosenthal emphasized.

According to Rosenthal, the GGC has a full collation of 40 lawyers and five paralegal benchers. The coalition’s website notes that the GGC was formed to “give lawyers and paralegals a clear choice in the 2023 Bencher elections.”

“You can elect experienced leaders who will return good governance and decorum to Convocation — or risk the LSO being taken over by the Full Stop slate,” the website explains.

While the coalition is running in the election as an organized group, Rosenthal stressed it is “not a political party.”

“We will not vote as a bloc because you cannot vote as a bloc when you have an independent fiduciary duty as a director,” he emphasized.

Law360 Canada reached out to the Full Stop slate to inquire about endorsements and campaign details, but no information was available by press time.

The nomination period for the bencher election closes Feb. 24 and voting will be open April 19-28. The results will be announced on May 1.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for Law360 Canada, please contact Amanda Jerome at or 416-524-2152.