Law Society builds roster for new Coach and Advisor Network

Interested lawyers and paralegals encouraged to apply

Toronto — The Law Society of Upper Canada is calling on Ontario lawyers and paralegals interested in becoming volunteer coaches and advisors to apply to its new Coach and Advisor Network (CAN).

Approved by the Law Society’s governing body last January, CAN is designed to make coaching and advising an integral aspect of legal competence and culture throughout Ontario.

“We all have a responsibility to foster collective competence — both in the public interest — and in the interest of professional renewal and support,” Law Society Treasurer Paul Schabas told lawyers and paralegals attending a recent CAN information and volunteer recruitment session. “It’s a very important and ambitious initiative. While participants will gain by increasing their competence and confidence, coaches and advisors will also have opportunities to learn and hone their own skills. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The network will provide short-term advisor supports and longer term coaching supports to foster best practices throughout the professions.

CAN is also designed to respond to the needs identified by Law Society committees and reports that recognize the barriers faced by racialized licensees and challenges faced by women in private practice.

While volunteer coaches and advisors are needed in every area of law and within the paralegal scope of practice, there is particular need in family, criminal, real estate, civil litigation and wills and estates.

The initiative is receiving positive reviews from coaches/advisors and participants.

“I like the idea of the two streams of support — advising and coaching, in which the participant may choose either or both, depending on their file issues or goal-setting requirements,” says Toronto paralegal and CAN volunteer coach and advisor, Minda Bowman. “I hope that the structured sessions will result in highly positive results for my paralegal peers — and by extension, their clients. I believe that to overcome one’s own practice and life challenges, one should enlist and participate in programs to help others in need first.”

Toronto lawyer and CAN participant Shaheem Joya says, “As a junior lawyer with a solo practice, I found myself between a rock and a hard place: I wanted to work on files in an area of law where I had little experience, civil litigation, or risk not finding enough work. At the same time, I felt a need for guidance by experienced counsel on discrete or general questions, and I did not have an extended network of advisors.

“The Coach and Advisor Network put me in touch with an experienced counsel who was supremely helpful,” he says. “I will definitely urge any lawyers looking to venture outside their area of expertise, or encountering an issue for the first time, to reach out to CAN."

Another information session, CAN – Mentorship Best Practices, was held December 13 and other events are scheduled to follow as the program continues to evolve.

More details about CAN are available online.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.   

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Media contact: Susan Tonkin, Communications Advisor, Media Relations, 416-947-7605 or stonkin@lsuc.on.ca.

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