Back to Navigation

Memorial Glossary


Benchers are the governors of the Law Society of Ontario, the members of its board of governors. There are currently 53 Benchers, 40 of whom were elected by the Society's lawyer licensees, 5 representing independent paralegals, and 8 that were appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council. Benchers meet each month in a gathering called Convocation to deal with matters related to the governance of the legal professions and to make policy decisions. Benchers also sit on various Law Society committees, and they participate on panels that hear cases concerning the conduct and competence of lawyers and paralegals. The word "bencher" was borrowed from the English Inns of Court from which the Law Society inherited many of its traditions.

Call to the bar

Admission to the legal profession as a lawyer. In Ontario, candidates are eligible to be called after meeting all the educational, training and character requirements established by the Law Society as necessary to becoming a lawyer in this province.


Gathering of the Benchers. Also used to refer to the assembled benchers as in "...Convocation voted to...". While the word "convocation" is generally associated with university graduation ceremonies, it is also used in relation to the church and in the context of the governance of the Law Society. "Convocation" stems from the Latin convocare, to call together, to summon.

County Law Associations

County Law Associations were originally constituted through the Law Society in the late 19th century to help create and organize law libraries in local county courthouses. The associations eventually became a means for lawyers of a region to organize, network and voice their concerns. There are currently 48 county and district law associations.

Great Library

The Great Library at Osgoode Hall is the library of the Law Society of Ontario. It is a private library.  The library was created in the early 19th century. The "Great Library" seems to have acquired its name when it became necessary to distinguish between the main library and the students' collection. The main reading room of the library has been described as one of the most beautiful rooms in Canada.

Law Society Secretary

The position of Secretary at the Law Society dates from 1833. The responsibilities of the position have changed over time. For the period under consideration here, the Secretary would have been responsible for the efficient operation of Convocation and the "professional purposes" area of Law Society operations such as discipline, professional conduct, professional standards and public information. Since 2002 the responsibilities of the position have been divided between a number of individuals.

Ontario Bar Association

The Ontario Bar Association is a branch of the Canadian Bar Association. It was created in 1907. It is a voluntary organization of members of the legal profession that support the legal community by providing educational programmes and advocacy with governments.

Osgoode Hall

Home of the Law Society of Ontario since 1832, Osgoode Hall housed Osgoode Hall Law School until 1968. The expression "I did not know he had been at Osgoode Hall" refers to the fact that the subject of the conversation had studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Until 1957 the Law Society had the monopoly over legal education in Ontario and Osgoode Hall Law School was the alma mater of all Ontario-trained lawyers up to that time.

Osgoode Hall Rifle Association

The Osgoode Hall Rifle Association, a volunteer regiment of the legal profession, was formed in 1914 in response to the outbreak of World War One.

The Law Society of Upper Canada

Former name of the Law Society of Ontario. The Law Society of Ontario is the self-governing body for lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. The primary responsibility or mandate of the Law Society is to regulate the legal professions in the public interest according to Ontario law and the Law Society's rules, regulations and guidelines.


The head of the Law Society, he or she presides over Convocation. The Treasurer is elected by Benchers entitled to vote in Convocation. An election for Treasurer is held each year at the regular June meeting of Convocation. The word Treasurer was borrowed from the Inns of Court in England. 

Terms or Concepts Explained