Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Law Society of Ontario was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- The Law Society of Ontario helps employees balance work and their personal commitments with a variety of alternative working arrangements and paid personal days off, which can be scheduled at employees' discretion
- The Law Society of Ontario encourages ongoing employee development with unlimited tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions, subsidies for professional accreditation, and in-house and online training programs
- Situated on the grounds of Osgoode Hall, employees working at the Law Society of Ontario can take advantage of a number of unique onsite amenities, including a cafeteria (with healthy and special diet menus), an extensive law library, a fully equipped yoga and pilates studio, and naturopath and massage therapy sessions available throughout the year
The Law Society proves the case for communication
As the recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Law Society of Ontario, Diana Miles had some clear priorities in mind. Among them: strengthening the level of communication across the growing organization, reaffirming the values that define the Law Society, and continuing to invest in employees' futures through innovative leadership and professional development initiatives.
A 17-year veteran of the Law Society, Miles instituted quarterly "all-hands" meetings to make sure everyone was fully engaged in the organization's activities and direction. She also met all 600 employees on a more individual basis through small group coffee chats.
"Improving our communications is the best way we can all have reasonable expectations about what the organization needs to achieve," says Miles. "Even more importantly, it gives our colleagues a better idea of what they can expect when they reach out to others or who they can touch base with for help or support."
The Law Society's 2018 employee engagement and enablement survey shows high levels of support for this kind of approach.
"People are telling us they are very proud to work for the Law Society and really believe in our public interest mandate," says Miles. "The message we often hear is 'we love what we do and what we do matters.' They really enjoy the openness of our communications and our supportive and collegial workplace culture."
Like all organizations facing the departure of baby-boomer employees over the next decade, the Law Society understands the need to develop the next generation of leaders. A key initiative is the recently introduced Talent Management Program (TMP), which offers a series of day-long sessions conducted by external, best-practices experts on subjects such as change management and how to deal with difficult conversations. The goal is to give emerging leaders the skills they'll need to fill essential roles.
In 2018, a total of 156 people participated in the TMP. Among them was Christine O'Neill, an intake and resolution counsel and currently Acting Assistant Manager of the Intake and Resolution Department.
O'Neill's department deals with complaints against licensees. The complaints are assessed to determine if they meet the statutory standard of a reasonable belief of professional misconduct and whether they present a significant risk to the public. If they do, a full investigation ensues. So the TMP session on how to deal with difficult conversations was particularly useful, says O'Neill.
"That's something we have to do every day, whether with complainants, licensees or even sometimes with colleagues. This session gave us tips and checklists for better understanding where the person you are having the conversation with is coming from. You focus on building a relationship so you can more effectively deal with fact-based issues."
O'Neill says this is just one of many ways the Law Society helps employees learn and grow. For example, over several years the Law Society provided her with free, lunch-hour French instruction so she could better address complaints written in French. There are also regular Lunch-and-Learn presentations on professional and lifestyle issues - everything from nutrition and mental health to diversity and inclusion best practices.
Strengthening diversity, inclusion and equity is a priority across the organization.
"We are really committed to ensuring all of our employment activities are fair and equitable," says Miles. "We monitor and measure our ability to attract diverse talent and we work hard to prohibit any form of discrimination or harassment."
The Law Society also strives to provide employees a healthy balance between work and life through competitive salary and benefits, flexible work hours, paid volunteer days and training to help support employees with mental health or other personal challenges.
Beyond all that, the Law Society is fundamentally an enjoyable place to work, says O"Neill.
"It's the kind of place where, when you get on an elevator, you'd actually feel badly if you didn't strike up a conversation," she says. "People take their work seriously, but they also just enjoy and appreciate each other."