Antoine Aylwin
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Candidats en lice

Antoine Aylwin

Candidate for the bâtonnier position - 2 years

Member of the Barreau since 2003

Presentation

I always wanted to be a lawyer. However, when I was young, no one around me was a lawyer... and the east end of Montreal where I grew up wasn't full of law firms, either. When I entered the Faculty of Law at the Université de Montréal in 1999, I was able to confirm that I belonged. Twenty years later, I maintain that belief.

The world of law has changed a lot in 20 years. So have I. I am a family man, less athletic, greyer, wiser. But I remain as passionate about the profession and am ready to contribute to help face its challenges.

If I had to summarize my career, I would certainly describe it using the words rigour, commitment, professionalism.

I want to be Bâtonnier of the Barreau du Québec for the 2021-2023 fiscal year, because I want the profession to respond even better to the needs of Quebéc’s population. And because I am proud to be a lawyer. I believe that we play an important role in our society and I have ideas to go even further.

Influenced by the events of the last year – notably COVID-19, our technological inertia, the inequalities linked to racism and mental health issues – this campaign is the fruition of a lengthy reflection and a testimony to my commitment to my profession, my clients and my practice.

Visit my website for more details and follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Experiences

A lawyer since 2003, lecturer and author, I practice at Fasken in civil and administrative litigation, especially in the areas of privacy, access to information, economic regulation of agricultural markets and estate law.

I have been fortunate to receive several professional recognitions, including a nomination by Lexpert magazine in the Rising Stars 2021 ranking, which highlights the work of lawyers 40 years of age and under across Canada. I am very proud of these awards, as they attest to my daily investment in my work, and the dedication and rigour I put into it.

Since the very beginning, I’ve been involved with the Barreau: several committees, the presidency of the Young Bar of Montreal, and a director of the Barreau du Québec (for 5 years), including two mandates as vice-president. I have had the opportunity to travel around Quebec and better understand the different realities of all types of practice. The details of my involvement are on my website.

Objectives

Committed to maintaining responsible financial management and aiming for the status quo or a reduction in our fees, I believe the time has come to exercise leadership towards the modernization of our profession. My discussions with hundreds of you have led me to make 64 proposals on 10 themes, as detailed on my website.

1. Technological transformation

The pandemic has turned our lives upside down, demonstrating the limits of the traditional way of practicing law before the courts, the result of a very slow evolution! We experienced telework: this is an opportunity to continue applying those aspects that have worked well. Finally, whether we like it or not, all professions will be affected by artificial intelligence... let's think about AI now, so we don't miss the boat!

Both law firms and the courts remain huge paper warehouses, while our clients experience only drawbacks, such as the slowness of the system and the printing costs they have to bear. We need electronic court records, document exchange platforms, screens and software to process information and documents in real time.

The Barreau du Québec must support its members seeking to integrate technology into their practices.

2 of my 13 proposals on this theme:

3) Demand free access to judicial information contained in docket information and documents contained in remote court files, with an improvement in the interface and content;

4) Demand that the government equip the judiciary and government lawyers with sufficient technological tools, including service centres in regions where the IT infrastructure is lacking.

2. Legal Education for All

In order for citizens to be able to assert their rights and respect their obligations, they must first have knowledge of them, along with the development of legal skills and reflexes. It is not normal that only the Highway Safety Code is the subject of mandatory training in Québec. Moreover, a better understanding of the legal system will lead to a better understanding of the importance of our profession, demystifying it and emphasizing the value of our role in society.

The Barreau du Québec has contributed to a number of key initiatives over the years, notably through the creation of Éducaloi and Community Justice Centres, whose expansion into the regions has yet to be completed.

In everyday practice, it is an excellent investment for the profession that clients better understand the situations when it is necessary to consult a lawyer.

2 of my 5 proposals on this theme:

14) Demand that the Ministère de l’Éducation and the Ministère de la Justice make the integration of legal education in secondary and elementary school compulsory and that learning materials are developed accordingly;

17) Demand that the government deploy Community Justice Centres in all regions.

3. École du Barreau and its Legal Clinic

Transforming the profession requires a long-term commitment and reflection on the practical training of students at the École du Barreau.

The École du Barreau has been working on a vast reform project. The biggest innovation that I enthusiastically support is the development of the École du Barreau Legal Clinic as a major access to justice project. Under the supervision of experienced lawyers, students will offer legal services to the public to meet currently unserved needs in order to develop real practical expertise under supervision prior to articling and demonstrate the value of legal professional services.

2 of my 4 proposals on this theme:

19) Assist the École du Barreau with the rollout of the current reform for a more practical and realistic training program; 

21) Establish a permanent policy for the École du Barreau to evaluate its curriculum and monitor the reality of the practice and the different types of practices in our profession, in particular by setting up incubation workshops for new projects by students.

4. Joining with Notaries to Create a Single, Unified Professional Order

Historically, the notarial profession was created in New France in a context where the legal profession was formally prohibited.  With the passage of time and the evolution of our professions, it is time to seriously reconsider the matter.

The accounting professions have recently joined forces to create a more consistent and enhanced service offering. Québec is the only jurisdiction in Canada and the United States to separate the legal profession into two distinct and mutually exclusive professions. There is competition between members of the two professions for legal advice, representation in non-contentious matters, arbitration and mediation.

Why fund two similar professional orders? It's time we all have a frank and open discussion about the legal professions.

1 of my 4 proposals on this theme:

23) Create a committee made up of lawyers and notaries to study various aspects related to the consolidation of the professions, such as the revision of training, professional regulation and financial consequences.

5. Valuing Retired Lawyers

In 2017, I chaired a task force to review the role of retired lawyers and to reform this status within our profession. Retired lawyers have more to give and have invaluable experience to share.

The Board of Directors endorsed our recommendations, which led to amendments to the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec in order to allow retired lawyers to offer training, participate in the activities of the Barreau du Québec, offer pro bono legal services and support young lawyers as mentors.

Everything is already in place... almost. This reform has not yet been implemented by the legislator.

1 of my 3 proposals on this theme:

27) Make representations to the government to amend the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec to better benefit from the experience of our retired lawyers.

6. Focus on Mental Health

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the use of the Barreau’s Assistance Program (Programme d’aide aux membres du Barreau, or PAMBA)

We are in a helping relationship with our clients, but are we going to get the help we need?

Our profession is very demanding. Achieving a work-life balance sometimes seems impossible. Until recently, it was still considered "normal" in our environment to be stressed, exhausted, overworked or otherwise. And the pandemic has certainly not helped...

Moreover, harassment issues are present in the profession and a report entitled “Questionnaire on Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Practice of Law” was recently published by researchers at Université Laval. Its findings are disturbing. In a profession in which female participation is increasing, this issue must be addressed in order to guarantee true equality in practice for women lawyers.

2 of my 7 proposals on this theme:

31) Implement the recommendations of the report entitled “Questionnaire on Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Practice of Law”;

33) Collaborate with the PAMBA to offer a training session for members of the Professional Inspection Committee and the Syndic's office in order to identify members who need help in order to intervene in a preventative manner.

7. Promoting Diversity: For a More Inclusive Profession

Québec is obviously not the only place in the world where integration of diversity is an issue. Racism remains present everywhere and it is clear that there are inequalities in our society. This has been documented and recognized by governments.

I do not come from a diverse background and I do not have all the answers. However, it seems important to me that the Barreau du Québec speak directly to the lawyers concerned who have experience in the field of diversity and inclusion to help us to implement a policy in this area.

All lawyers must be able to benefit from equal conditions in order to realize their full potential within the profession.

2 of my 8 proposals on this theme:

37) Name more lawyers from diverse backgrounds in the appointments made by the Board of Directors of the Barreau du Québec, and keep statistics in this regard;

40) Develop and implement a policy at the Barreau du Québec to promote diversity within the profession and make it an important element in recruitment for the profession, and involve lawyers from diverse backgrounds in the development of this policy.

8. Continuing Legal Education focused on Ethics that Is Free of Charge and of High Quality

The portion of our required continuing legal education (CLE) that covers ethics, deontology and professional practice is at the heart of our profession, as these principles are common to all lawyers, regardless of their practice area.

This subject matter is so important that only CLE provided directly by the Barreau du Québec is recognized as such. During the pandemic, this CLE was temporarily free of charge and I would like to believe that many of you took advantage.

Given that this particular type of CLE is required and that only the Barreau du Québec’s programs qualify, it must remain free of charge.

Moreover, we must seriously question the relevance of organizing costly seminars that can only be profitable in the private sector. Why not focus instead on an accessible CLE, while concentrating on subjects that are less "profitable" for other providers, particularly in matters of public protection and in line with the role of the Barreau du Québec.

2 of my 4 proposals on this theme:

45) Make the first three hours of CLE in ethics and deontology free of charge for each member for each CLE period;

46) Redefine the mandate of the CLE offered by the Barreau du Québec, so that is more accessible to a larger number of lawyers.

9. An Improved User Experience

Every day, members of the Barreau and the public interact with the Barreau du Québec.

I believe that our order must treat its members as customers and aim for the highest level of satisfaction in its dealings with them. After all, to meet the goal of better public protection, a professional order must maintain the best possible relations with its members.

Several administrative procedures need to be reviewed in order to shorten the time between the opening of a file and the decision. At the same time, the user experience can also be improved as regards the relationship between the members of the Syndic's office and the professional inspectors.

2 of my 7 proposals on this theme:

50) Review the cost structure of individual applications to reflect the true cost of each application to the Barreau du Québec;

51) Measure client satisfaction in their dealings with the Barreau du Québec in order to improve service, particularly with respect to an evaluation of the Info-Barreau line.

10. Reinvigorate our Sense of Belonging

I am proud to be a lawyer. Being a first-generation lawyer is an important part of my identity, as it is for many of you – it is what I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life to! It is important for the continuity of a profession and a professional order that members be better able to identify with their profession, and demonstrate this pride and passion.

The success of the COVID-19 "Lawyers Mutual Aid" page clearly demonstrates that lawyers want to talk with each other, collaborate, and belong to a specific community. The Barreau du Québec can be the catalyst of these places of sharing.

It is also important to bring together lawyers from all walks of life within the Barreau du Québec, so that the work of the Board of Directors can take into account the different realities.

Fostering this sense of pride must become part of the very mission of the Barreau du Québec. This is also how we protect the public – by being proud of who we are and what we do.

2 of my 9 proposals on this theme:

56) Require that the government make legal fees tax deductible in situations where this is not currently the case;

59) Development of a communications platform between lawyers for the referral of mandates (complementary to the existing referral service), mentoring needs, legal counsel assistance, research for experts, rental spaces, etc.