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Mercer re-elected as treasurer, hopes LSO will ‘work together’ in public interest

Friday, June 28, 2019 @ 12:43 PM | By Amanda Jerome

The Law Society of Ontario has re-elected Malcolm Mercer as treasurer for a second term. Mercer beat Chi-Kun Shi 31-22.    

“I’m very grateful that Convocation has expressed its confidence in me for a second term,” Mercer told The Lawyer’s Daily after the vote at Convocation on June 27.

“I look forward to the many challenges that are, no doubt, going to be before the law society, and I’m going to try and do a good job,” he added.

Malcolm Mercer image 2

Malcolm Mercer

Mercer said his hope for the year to come is “that we’ll have a Convocation that will work together in the public interest and move forward on issues that matter.”

Mercer’s election to a second term was met by a sustained applause. After the vote, he thanked Shi for running in the election and invited her to address Convocation.

“I want to thank everybody for being so open to let me come and visit you, and speak with you, and learn from you,” said Shi. “This campaign has been a great experience for me and I am very grateful. I know that there are a lot of us who are concerned about differences in this Convocation, but having met with most of you, I say that I think we are going to be just fine because of all the dedication, talent, energy and the will to serve in this Convocation.

“Finally, I’d like to make a motion to make the election of Malcolm Mercer as treasurer unanimous,” she added to further applause.

In his first remarks to Convocation, Mercer said he wanted to thank all of those who supported him for re-election.

“I’m predictably grateful for the fact that those that I have worked with over the last years have been supportive, and that means people on all sides of all issues, and I’m grateful for that. As for those who supported Chi-Kun let me simply say, I believe that the role of the treasurer is to lead the law society without regard to personal politics. Going forward I will simply do what I think is best in accordance to the role assigned to me and our rules and policies,” he said.

“Going forward, I will ask the same of each of you. That you come to Convocation simply as yourself to listen, consider, and exercise your own bencher judgment,” he added, noting that the group had been divided by the treasurer election and the Statement of Principles.

“Going forward, proper governance of the legal professions does not permit the division to continue. That’s not to say we won’t disagree, sometimes passionately, but our disagreements must be as benchers individually at Convocation in order to have Convocation do its work and for each of us to do the job that we’ve undertaken to do,” he noted before the debate on the Statement of Principles commenced.

Mercer, a partner in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group, has been a bencher since 2011. His work on various law society committees includes: chairing the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, acting as vice-chair for the Professional Regulation Committee and the Alternative Business Structures Working Group, serving on the Access to Justice Committee, Paralegal Standing Committee, Priority Planning Committee, and Summary Disposition Committee — as well as the Compliance-Based Entity Regulation Task Force, the Real Estate Working Group and the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group.

In previous interviews about the treasurer election, Mercer told The Lawyer’s Daily that there are two broad issues the regulator needs to address over the next year: the administration of justice and access to justice.

Before being re-elected, Mercer said the law society has a “role to play in advocating for change,” but has a specific role in “trying to make the existing system work.”

“Whether that’s a matter of getting legal services to people who need them, dealing with the realities of self-represented litigants, [or] mitigating the problems that people experience trying to navigate the system” there continues to be “significant unserved areas where lawyers and paralegals are not now providing services,” he noted.

“It may be that technology is the answer; it may be [that in] the unserved areas that we need to do a better job of getting out of the way. So, I think we need to be looking at all of that and it’s not just a one-year project,” he added, stressing that regulating in the access to justice and legal services context is “central to the role of the law society.”

According to the McCarthy Tétrault’s website, Mercer was recognized by the Canadian Bar Association with the prestigious Louis St. Laurent award in 2013. As an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, he teaches legal ethics and is also a member of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics. Mercer also acts as the national chair of the Victorian Order of Nurses-Canada and is a past board member of Pro Bono Ontario.

File photo of Malcolm Mercer by Amanda Jerome