Law Society of Upper Canada Votes to Change its Name

The Law Society of Upper Canada held a vote on Sept. 28, 2017, and voted to change its name to remove the words “Upper Canada,”

To further its commitment to facilitating access to justice for Ontarians, Convocation voted overwhelmingly to change the Law Society’s name at its next meeting in November and to discontinue use of the words “Upper Canada.”

In 2012, a motion was introduced to achieve the same goal. Only 3 lawyers at the time were willing to support to motion. The Toronto Star reported,

Tradition prevailed at the site of one of Toronto’s most historic landmarks as members of the Law Society of Upper Canada shot down the motion of a few rogue lawyers to change its 215-year-old name.

The raucous debate in the storied Osgoode Hall — with the ornate portraits of past treasurers (that’s society speak for presidents) looking down upon the speakers in Convocation Hall — came down to a clash between upholding tradition and providing clarity.

Federal lawyer Tom Vincent, who proposed the motion to change the name to the Ontario Law Society, arrived at the microphone Wednesday evening with a simple question: “Where do they tell people when they ask, ‘Where is Upper Canada’?”

But Toronto lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye, one of the few who stood in favour of the motion, said there was a disconnect between the lawyers in the room and the vulnerable people who need the law society’s oversight most.

“We’re a self-regulated profession and the law society is there to protect the public when lawyers aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. By having a name that doesn’t clearly embody Ontario or the services provided, Ha-Redeye said, “the law society is not fully meeting its mandate.”

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