Ontario opts for breakaway lawyers' union

LAWYERS in Canada's most populous province are in the process of setting up a single union which they hope will give them greater representation than their law society, the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Prime movers behind the plan to build the new union for lawyers in Ontario, which can be compared to the grassroots bid to break up the Law Society of England and Wales last year, have said their law society cannot possibly both regulate and act on behalf of lawyers.

The proposed changes have already led to plans to merge two of Ontario's biggest lawyer organisations, the County and District Law Presidents' Association (CDLPA), which currently has 6,300 lawyer members, and the Ontario wing of the Canadian Bar Association (CBAO), which represents 12,300 lawyers and 1,400 students. The Law Society of Upper Canada has 24,000 registered members.

The CBAO and the CDLPA and the Metropolitan Toronto Lawyers' Association are currently negotiating over the proposed details of the union.

The organisers hope that all Ontario lawyers will automatically become members.