Questions and Answers from the Law Times 2015 Bencher Candidate Survey
Q: Which region are you running in?
Q: State your name and tell us about yourself.
My name is Sean Robichaud. I am 38 years old, father or twin boys, avid motorcycle rider, business owner, loving husband, pizza aficionado, photographer, …and like most of you, a lawyer in Ontario that feels some serious changes need to come to our present regulatory body.
I was called the bar in 2005 after completing my law degree at Queen’s University and articling with Pinkofskys criminal law firm in Toronto. Following my articles, I remained at Pinkofskys as an associate before becoming a partner in 2008. In 2009, I started my own boutique criminal law firm that now employs two junior associates and support staff. To date, my practice has remained exclusive to criminal trial litigation. In 2013, I obtained my LL.M. (Criminal Specialization) from Osgoode Hall Law School.
I am a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, an active member and Toronto Director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and qualified under Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Cases” panel – which includes eligibility to represent individuals charged with the most serious criminal offences such as homicide and terrorism.
Beyond my criminal firm, I am also the founder/operator of King Law Chambers that provides innovative office space and solutions to lawyers in Toronto. KLC is focused on assisting recent called lawyers successfully start-up and maintain their practice for all areas of law.
Q: What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
My inspiration comes from the disconnect that many recently called and/or younger lawyers feel towards the Law Society and our benchers. To their own detriment, 38 of the 40 Law Society Benchers are over the age of 50. Governance is better served by diversity. Despite the invaluable wisdom of senior counsel, junior counsel can equally contribute to the improvement of our profession and our governance. Without a direct and influential voice for younger lawyers and relativley recent calls, these advancements cannot be implemented.
I am inspired by stories of lawyers’ unemployment, discrimination, inequality, inaccessibility to justice, feelings of neglect. I am also inspired by lawyers’ stories of optimism, justice served, justice being done, and by success. I’m inspired by who we are as lawyers and what we can become through more diverse representation.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Unemployment and the public’s perception of lawyers; which, in many ways are one and the same issue. The Law Society has neglected the important role it has in educating the public in the importance and value of lawyers. We have done nothing to market ourselves as essential components to a civilized and just society. Any public relations that does exist from the Law Society is in the form of reactive triaging to a crises that media has seized upon. Lawyers’ reputation is bombarded with media coverage of unethical lawyers that, as we know, is a rarity in comparison to our colleagues we practice with.
We are ethical. We make a difference in people’s lives for the better. We are essential components a just society. We work tirelessly and fearlessly for our clients. We sacrifice our own physical and mental health, family, leisure, and finances for the advancement of our client’s interests. And yet, we are often perceived by the public in exactly the opposite way. As a result, the public now looks to other options other than lawyers. Even lawyers have convinced themselves, through measures like Alternative Business Structures, that we are not good enough to deal with justice problems on our own.
How many times have we heard from our regulatory body and senior counsel that “reputation is everything in the law”, and yet our Law Society has unequvocally failed in protecting, promoting, and advancing who we truly are and our value.
With perceived value comes jobs and a recognition by our government to ensure access to justice (which is really about access to lawyers). With value comes citizens and companies to accept hiring a lawyer is not only in their best interests, but necessary for justice.
Q: What would be your first priority upon election?
On a macro level, influencing the benchers to look at at broader issues about public perception and the promotion of our profession in a positive light. It would be about advancing access to justice measures, opposing alternative business structures, increasing and entrenching a more diverse representation of our benchers, and ensuring that those most in need within our profession have their voices heard.
On a micro level, immersing myself in understanding the workings of the Society and how decisions are made, how lobbying efforts are effectively engaged, and how to make things happen. This would come by reaching out to incumbent and former benchers and their advice. It would also require reaching out more diversely to various legal groups to better understand what issues are most important to them and how they believe changes can be made.
Q: What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
My list would include (in no particular order): 1) ending the push to implement alternative business structures, 2) strengthen and improve the parental leave program, 3) entrench special categories of benchers to ensure diversity in representation, including a “recent call” category of bencher for those under 10 years of call, 4) increase access to justice vis a vis increasing the reputation and necessity of lawyers and the exposing the access issues presently facing the province – which in turn would put pressure on the government to improve Legal Aid Ontario as well as advance private interests in retaining counsel, 5) ending the LPP program and returning to modular training modulars as they were in 2005 when I became a lawyer and as they presently are in BC, 6) required accreditation for complex and specialized legal matters akin to the practice of medicine – the present Certified Specialist program could be built upon.
Q: What’s the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Toronto is flooded with recent calls without jobs. This is a serious issue that needs honest and serious reflection upon.
Q: Do you favour allowing alternative business structures?
No. I stand firmly and vocally against these measures. I have throughly analyzed and considered the various arguments. My detailed position is best stated by submissions (available online) I co-authored on behalf of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association opposing ABS. I also echo the position taken by the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association in their submissions to the Law Society on ABS.