By Melanie Hodges Neufeld
To mark the big election this month – the Law Society’s Bencher Election of course – here are some interesting tidbits from the election’s history:
- The Legal Profession Act of 1907 did not make provision for electoral divisions. Each bencher represented all members and there was a preponderance of benchers from southern Saskatchewan.
- For the first 12 years of the Society’s existence, there were 9 elected benchers. The Legal Profession Act was amended prior to the 1919 election to increase the number to 12.
- The Act was amended prior to the 1964 election to increase the number of elected benchers to 15 and to include electoral districts. The districts mirrored the land titles districts, except Yorkton and Humboldt which would be considered one district. Regina and Saskatoon were also separate districts.
- Amendments to the Act in 1981 increased the number of benchers to 18, with 2 additional benchers for the Saskatoon district and the dean of the College of Law now a full voting bencher.
- In 1982, Gwen Randall was the first female bencher elected to the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
- The 1991 election was the first to use a ward system of voting. Benchers were elected only by the members in their own electoral division, as opposed to being elected by province-wide voting.
- The Legal Profession Act, 1990 was proclaimed on October 1, 1991 and introduced for the first time in Saskatchewan the concept of non-lawyer benchers. Two were to be appointed by the lieutenant-governor in council after consultation with the Society.
- Prior to the 1997 election, boundary changes resulted in:
- Prince Albert being represented by one bencher,
- the former Prince Albert and Humboldt-Yorkton divisions be renamed the North East and East Central divisions, and
- the membership of the Kerrobert division would be split between the Battlefords and Swift Current divisions, which would be renamed the North West and South West divisions, respectively.
- Currently there are 23 benchers representing 9 geographic divisions, the New Lawyer Bencher division, Dean of the College of Law, and 4 Public Representatives.
For more information on the upcoming election, please visit our website.