OTLA's Governance Structure
OTLA is governed by a Board of Directors made up of 30 voting members from across the 8 regional court districts in Ontario. In accordance with OTLA’s By-Laws, directors are elected for 3 year terms and can stand for re-election for up to 3 terms. There are 10 vacancies filled on the Board each year as terms rotate. Nomination forms are sent to members each year in December and Board elections are held in April. As with most trial lawyer associations, the OTLA Board elects a Vice President each year from among the Board members. In the year that follows, that person becomes President-Elect and in the following year, President.
The Board is structured in seven main committees:
Executive Finance Member Services Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
Practice Directions Public Relations Access to Justice
These are the working committees of the Board that meet monthly and they are backed by approximately 20 working committees made up of both Board members and regular members of the association. These committees hold several hundred meetings each year by conference call and in-person, accounting for thousands of volunteer hours by many dedicated members.
The Board of Directors also has 3 non-voting members filled each year by the elected chairs of the Medical Malpractice Litigation Section, New Lawyers Division and Women’s Caucus. In addition, the Immediate Past President of the Board is a voting member of the Board for the year following their presidency. After that term, this individual becomes part of the Past President’s group.
OTLA’s Board of Directors generally holds 8 Board meetings each year in addition to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May and a Long Range Planning (LRP) meeting in June. The AGM reports to the general membership on financial management and strategic activities and presents the annual slate of Board Directors for their approval. The LRP reviews the association’s Strategic Plan, considers current and long-term issues requiring action by OTLA, and then aligns the strategic directions of the Board and association activities for the year in accordance with the Strategic Plan and any adjusted priorities.
OTLA’s President provides regular reports to the membership through The Litigator and association-wide email notices, as well as addressing members at the major spring and fall conferences, at the President’s receptions and in regional meetings across the province.
OTLA’s Board values two-way communications and welcomes members to become involved in the work of the organization, in the financial support of our fight for Access to Justice, and in sharing their personal and regional views and concerns by contacting any Board member.
OTLA has litigation sections for Medical Malpractice and Long Term Disability (LTD). It also has a New Lawyers Division (NLD), a Women’s Caucus and a Law Clerks section. All of these groups have a separate listserve for networking and discussion, lunch meetings at major conferences, roundtables, and specialized continuing legal education (CLE) events.
All law clerks, new lawyers (under 10 years in practice) and all women lawyers, are automatically members of their respective section and can sign up to participate on those listserves.
To become a member of a litigation section requires an additional yearly payment and certification of plaintiff work in these areas.
For more information on membership in these specialized sections, please contact OTLA.
Committees and Task Groups
Consider becoming involved in an ongoing or a time-limited activity that will contribute your viewpoint and knowledge to enrich OTLA and which will help you to understand how OTLA operates and what your volunteer commitment really means to strengthening this association.
In 2009, OTLA reorganized the governance of the organization to ensure accountability to members and action on all areas of OTLA’s Strategic Directions. There are seven major Committees of the Board, and numerous ongoing and ad hoc task groups related to each of the committees that undertake the work of OTLA each year. Each committee and task group is led by a Board member and most all of them (except for a few like the Executive Committee) are open to and welcome participation by regular OTLA members as well as Board members.
If you would like to get involved with any of these committees and task groups, please contact OTLA.