Public Sector Lawyers: 'In The Public Interest': Understanding the Special Role of the Government Lawyer (Archived Video Stream) 

Mar. 5, 2013
Toronto Online

This is the archived version of a program presented on March 5, 2013. 

The concept of the ‘public interest’ is the foundational principle that guides and structures the special role of government lawyers. This public interest role is derived from a number of constitutional and statutory sources but, in Ontario, it finds its foundation in s.5 of the Ministry of the Attorney General Act, which provides that the Attorney “shall see that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with the law.” This responsibility to uphold and advance the rule of law falls not just to the Attorney but to all government lawyers who act on his or her behalf.

What does this mean in practical terms for government lawyers on a day-to-day basis? In the view of the Deputy Attorney General, there are three foundational principles that must serve as touchstones in the fulfillment of their public interest role, namely: (i) independence; (ii) a commitment to principled decision-making; and (iii) accountability.

In this presentation, the Deputy Attorney General will elaborate the significance and implications of each of these foundational principles.  He will also consider whether, in light of the public interest role of government lawyers, they should be held to a higher or different standard of professional responsibility. Finally, he will explain why he believes that solicitor-client privilege plays a critical enabling role in the fulfillment of government lawyers’ responsibilities.

Keynote Speaker
Deputy Attorney General Patrick J. Monahan, Ministry of the Attorney General

Program Chairs
Alan Belaiche, Principal, Belaiche Law
Alexandra V. Mayeski, Dykeman Dewhirst O'Brien LLP

Patrick J. Monahan is the Deputy Attorney General for the Province of Ontario. He has served in senior administrative roles at York University, including as Provost and Vice-President Academic from 2009-12 and as Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School from 2003-09. He was a Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law school for 30 years, and was an Affiliated Scholar with the law firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP from 1993-2012. He has written extensively on constitutional and public law issues and in 2008 was awarded the David Mundell Medal for excellence in legal writing by the Attorney General of Ontario.


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    For 1 to 3 Participants
    CBA Member: $40*
    Non-Member: $65*

    For 4 or more Participants
    CBA Member: $65*
    Non-Member: $100*
    *plus applicable taxes



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