PHOTO: Windsor lawyer Jacqueline Horvat, a founding partner of Spark Law who has been named the Law Society of Ontario's treasurer, is pictured at her law firm on Thursday, June 9, 2022. PHOTO BY DAX MELMER /Windsor Star
“I feel excited, and I’m really eager to start working on what we can accomplish in the next year,” Horvat told the Star.
The Law Society of Ontario is a regulator of all lawyers and paralegals in the province, with more than 50,000 lawyers and around 10,000 paralegals as members. Forty elected lawyer benchers and five elected paralegal benchers, as well as eight paralegal benchers appointed by the provincial government, make up convocation — similar to a board of directors.
The treasurer is akin to a board’s chair and is elected by the law society’s 53 members.
Horvat, a civil and commercial lawyer, said her top priority as treasurer will be governance reform — specifically, establishing a task force to look at shrinking the board size.
“I think it would make us more efficient in what we do, and it would decrease costs,” Horvat said. “It would keep us focused on issues, and not allow certain benchers to take up a lot of time and space away from the important issues.”
Horvat was first elected to the Law Society in 2011 as a bencher, and re-elected in 2015 and 2019. She has served on numerous law society committees, including as chair of the technology task force and vice-chair of the strategic planning and advisory committee. She said she plans to continue the law society’s focus on technology and innovation.
Horvat would also like to establish a futures committee that probes what the legal profession will look like decades from now, “so that we’re prepared for and not caught off guard by any future innovations or technological changes,” she said.
“The law society has a history of being reactive to issues rather than being proactive. I’d like to see us move in the direction of becoming more proactive to issues in the profession.”
Earlier this year, Horvat was appointed to the independent advisory board for Supreme Court of Canada judicial appointments. She is the Ontario representative on the council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, as well as an occasional instructor and frequent guest lecturer at the University of Windsor’s law faculty.
“Jacqueline will be an excellent asset to the Law Society as treasurer,” said Reem Bahdi, dean of UWindsor’s law school. “She has a wide breadth of professional experience and long record of service to the public interest. We offer our sincere congratulations to her and to the Law Society on her election.”
Horvat is the sixth female treasurer in the law society’s 225 years. This is the first time the treasurer position has been handed from one woman to another, Horvat’s predecessor being Teresa Donnelly.