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LSO convocation to vote on Rosenthal resuming position as bencher

Thursday, October 17, 2019 @ 8:56 AM | By Amanda Jerome

Former Law Society of Ontario (LSO) bencher Jonathan Rosenthal will be returning to Convocation, pending a vote to elect him as the next eligible candidate, to fill the seat left by Orlando Da Silva in September. 

According to law society spokesperson Susan Tonkin, Da Silva “officially resigned as a bencher following the September Convocation, resulting in a vacancy in the number of benchers elected from the Toronto region. Under By-law 3, S 43 (1), a motion to elect the next eligible candidate from Toronto, Jonathan Rosenthal, as a bencher, will be made at the October Convocation.”

Da Silva, who was elected as a bencher in May, was appointed as the chief administrator of the Administrative Tribunal Support Service of Canada in August, which meant he had to step back from his role with the regulator.

Orlando Da Silva, chief administrator of the Administrative Tribunal Support Service of Canada

Da Silva assumes his position with the tribunal on Oct. 27.

“I was very proud of the fact that I got elected as bencher on a platform of improving mental health in the justice system,” Da Silva told The Lawyer’s Daily, noting that he was “very disappointed” that the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner decided he couldn’t continue to serve as a bencher while taking on his new role.

“I feel disappointed and a bit sad that I’m letting down the people who voted for me, but I want to try and continue to serve the justice sector in that way by focusing some mental health work through the federal government, the Department of Justice, the service that I’m going to be heading and through the Canadian Juries Commission that will look at the mental health of jurors and the resources they have to recover from vicarious trauma or post-traumatic stress from serving their civic duty,” he added.

Rosenthal said he’s excited to return to Convocation and the work he was doing as a bencher.

“I really enjoyed my first four years as a bencher. I think there’s a great number of different challenges facing our profession, [and] there’s a number of initiatives, and task forces, and working groups I was involved with, and I want to get back to the hard work to help our profession,” he explained.

Jonathan Rosenthal, lawyer

The most pressing challenge facing the legal profession, Rosenthal believes, is access to justice.

“I’ve repeatedly said that no Ontarian facing a criminal accusation should be without independent representation. I think that’s a very important issue. I think access to justice will be an issue that will remain on the forefront and hopefully the law society will take some progressive steps to ensure that access to justice is properly dealt with,” he said, adding that access to justice in family law is also of “great concern.”

Rosenthal was a part of the Advertising Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, as well as the Paralegal Standing Committee, and hopes to continue working on those issues.

Rosenthal didn’t win re-election in May so he was not present at Convocation during the Statement of Principles (SOP) debate. He acknowledged that the SOP was a “divisive” issue between benchers and the profession as whole, but he hopes that tension is gone so the work can begin.

“That issue has now been voted on [and] resolved. I look forward to getting to know some of my new bencher colleagues, both those that were part of the [Stop the SOP] slate and those that were not part of the slate. And I sincerely hope the divisiveness is now gone. That all of the benchers can now get together and start to do the hard work that the law society needs done by the benchers. I hope this issue is now done. It divided, as I said, both the benchers and the profession, the election, but it’s done. And I know my view, it was obviously not the view of all of the benchers, but as I say, I want to get to know them and work on the issues that remain,” he said, stressing the need for Convocation to move on.

“I just want to get back to work. I find it very challenging, interesting work and I want to get back to it. And I say it with great sincerity, the divisiveness, I hope it’s gone and it’s time to do the work we were all elected to do.”