Rebecca Durcan

REBECCA DURCAN

Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc

WHERE I WORK

I love my job. I work with incredible lawyers and dynamic clients at SML. SML is a small firm (9 lawyers) and we practise exclusively in professional regulation.

My practice is diverse and incredibly interesting. As prosecution counsel I represent the regulator in discipline hearings. As independent legal counsel to discipline committees, I assist lay panels in providing advice so that they may make informed decisions. As general counsel I assist registrars and councils manoeuver through governance matters by developing policy, drafting by-laws, and providing practical advice. All of my roles are tethered to ensuring the public interest is protected. I believe that this experience is particularly helpful to being a bencher.

WHY I'M RUNNING AGAIN

I ran in 2015 at the behest of former Bencher, Beth Symes. I came in 24th (only the top 20 are elected). However, by August of 2018 I had made my way up the list (through appointments to the Bench and elections of Treasurers) and was officially a Bencher. I have only been a Bencher for a few months. But I believe that my voice and perspective is unique and will assist Convocation. For example, as a working mother, I know the pressures placed on the profession. As a partner of a small firm, I know the realities of trying to create a healthy and supportive environment while complying with the various regulatory requirements. As a lawyer who focuses solely on professional regulation (which is translated to mean that I assist regulators), I am attuned to national and international regulatory trends. I have co-authored a text used by law schools and administrative tribunals. I am currently the co-author of a judicially cited loose leaf and co-authoring a text dedicated to professional regulation. I have acted as adjudicator, prosecutor, and independent legal advisor for tribunals. I am asked to speak nationally and internationally on various matters of professional regulation. All of these experiences will allow me to bring a distinctive, balanced and individual voice to Convocation.

IF RE-ELECTED AS BENCHER, I WOULD STRIVE TO DO THE FOLLOWING:


1

Access to justice

There are many factors that contribute to Ontarians not being able to access justice. The Law Society has a platform to address some of these factors. For example, I believe that there is a correlation between the massive student debt load that many new lawyers are saddled with and their ability to practise in areas that directly affect Ontarians. The Law Society could assist by reducing or eliminating licensing fees for new calls, and providing financial support or incentives for law students and recent calls who commit to working in underserviced areas of Ontario. This would ensure that new graduates do not defer licensure (due to the cost) and allow themselves to invest those fees into repaying their debt or their area of practice.

The Law Society can also look at how legal services can be more efficaciously and effectively utilized. For example, the Law Society can work directly with community stakeholders to address how Ontarians can access the legal system in a less expensive manner. By speaking to the experts on the ground (who are not necessarily lawyers or paralegals) the Law Society can direct resources and efforts to ensure that any needless regulatory hurdles are removed and allow Ontarians to access justice in a more timely manner.

The Law Society can also look to providing additional resources to solo and small firms who provide legal services to the majority of Ontarians. By making it easier and less burdensome for lawyers to start their own practises and by encouraging collaboration with paralegals the Law Society can increase the pool of available licensees who can then in turn assist Ontarians. Lawyers in small firms face de facto higher hurdles than lawyers in larger firms. Smaller and solo firms have difficulty hiring articling students or attracting associates. Lawyers in small and solo firms are disproportionately represented at discipline hearings. The Law Society can assist in this regard by incentivizing the hiring of articling students and associates. By providing the necessary tools, forms, and notices to solo and small firms, the Law Society can ensure that Ontarians have access to affordable and effective legal services.

Finally, the Law Society can invest in technological innovation so the legal system becomes more accessible and less expensive for Ontarians. This may result in less actual interface with lawyers. However, the role of the Law Society is to determine what is best for the public interest as opposed to the interest of the profession.





3

Increase diversity within the profession and leadership ranks

The public benefits with a robust and diverse legal profession. It is in the interest of the public that women, Indigenous, parent and racialized licensees remain within the profession and assume positions of leadership. Continued efforts to ensure inclusion are required and necessary. The Law Society has done a great job of creating the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel. But more work is needed. The Law Society needs to amplify its efforts to address the #METOO movement.

2

Continue with Governance Review

Convocation is too large (40 Lawyer Benchers + 5 Paralegal Benchers + 8 Public Benchers + Other Ex Officio Benchers). The Law Society should continue its efforts to make the board smaller. The Law Society should look to Bencher selection criteria other than simply geographic location. Other factors should be considered when selecting benchers - such as year of call (thereby ensuring that Convocation includes a bencher that is within 10 years of call) and look to competency based criteria.

The Law Society can either lead or follow in the area of governance reform. I would vote to lead.





4

Commit to heightened transparency

Lawyers pay $2,201 per year to maintain their license with the Law Society. The Law Society can make greater efforts in being transparent with its licensees to show how and why their money is being spent. For example, the Law Society could share with its licensees the actual cost of committee meetings, Convocations, investigations, hearings, conferences, Calls to the Bar, and other costs of doing business. In doing so the Law Society is showing where your money is being spent.

The Law Society also needs to ensure that it is sharing sufficient and relevant information on the Directory. If the public does not consider the Directory as a credible source of information it will quickly be abandoned and other third party registers will supplant its purpose. Several other regulators have decided to expand the content of their directories to combat this issue. Unless the profession wants non-credible or unregulated websites to provide information to the public, it needs to accept that the Law Society Directory needs to address the needs of the public. For the public is the true intended beneficiary of the Directory.

WHO I AM

I was born in Dublin, Ireland and raised in Burlington, Ontario. I am married to Shane Smith and mother to Harry (12), Jude (10) and Teddy (7).


  • 2019

    Co-Author

    Anticipated publication of Understanding Professional Regulation, co-authored with Robin McKechney: Emond Publishing

  • 2018

    Elected Bencher

    Elected as Bencher, Member of Professional Regulation Committee and Law Society Tribunal; Co-Author of A Complete Guide to the Regulated Health Professions Act: Carswell

  • 2016

    Certificate in Risk Management

    Attended University of Toronto Obtained my Certificate in Risk Management; Co-Author of Annotated Statutory Powers Procedure Act, with Julie Maciura: Thomson Reuters

  • 2009-Present

    Joined Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc

    Partner in firm dedicated to professional regulation
    Founded by Richard Steinecke, Julia Martin and Julie Maciura in 1997

  • 2003-2006

    Attended Osgoode Hall Law School

    Obtained my Masters in Health Law

  • 2003-2009

    Joined Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto

    Practice focussed on malpractice defence on behalf of hospitals and regulated health professionals

  • 2002

    Called to the Bar

    Ontario

  • 2000-2001

    Articled at Miller Thomson LLP

    Assisted at the Walkerton Inquiry and lived in Walkerton

  • 1997-2000

    Attended University of Windsor Law School

  • 1993-1997

    Attended Queen’s University

    Obtained my BAH in History

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CONTACT INFORMATION

Rebecca Catherine Durcan
Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc
401 Bay Street, Suite 2308
Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4

Email: rdurcan@sml-law.com
Telephone: 416.644.4783
Fax: 416.593.7867

 @Durcanrebecca