April 28, 2005 Providing broad access to justice by supporting the long-term viability of sole practitioners and small firms
Convocation on April 28 decided to seek the input of the profession concerning the Final Report of the Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Task Force
The profession and legal organizations will be invited to submit written comments on the on the report and recommendations over the spring and summer and the Task Force will report back to Convocation in October.
The Task Force was established in March 2003 to identify the challenges sole practitioners and small firms face, and to understand the implications for the public's access to justice.
Sole and small firm practices form the backbone of Ontario's legal profession, comprising 52% of lawyers in the province.
The Task Force's work included surveying more than 700 lawyers who completed detailed questionnaires.
The Task Force confirmed the integral and valuable role sole practitioners and small firms have in providing access to lawyer services to individuals. Not only are sole practitioners and small firm lawyers located in communities across the province, they are the most likely segment of Ontario's legal profession to include lawyers from various backgrounds able to address the cultural, linguistic and community needs of the province's diverse population.
The Task Force also identified trends that point to pressures on this segment of the profession, including a decreasing number of young/new lawyers entering the sole and small firm practice area. For example, in 1995, young lawyers comprised 20 per cent of all sole practitioners in the province. By 2002, that number had dropped to nine per cent.
With small and rural communities dependent on small firms and sole practitioners for the provision of lawyer services, a decline in the number of these lawyers could affect entire communities.
View all of the recommendations and the final report.