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Law Foundation's Legal Research Fund

[posted July 8, 2015]

BC lawyers are invited to apply for a grant from the Law Foundation of BC's Legal Research Fund. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is September 11, 2015.

The Law Foundation established the fund of $100,000 per year to support legal research projects that “advance the knowledge of law, social policy, and the administration of justice.”

For more information on the Legal Research Fund and the application process, visit the Law Foundation's website.

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Precautionary measures: useful tips on how to proceed if your firm receives a suspicious package

[posted July 7, 2015]

Some lawyers have expressed concerns about receiving suspicious packages. This useful link from the Government of Canada sets out procedures to follow if your law firm receives a package and is unsure of its contents. Be particularly alert if you receive a package that you did not expect. Call the sender in advance of opening to ascertain its contents. If there is no return address and if you were not expecting a package, treat the package as suspicious and follow emergency precautions.

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Deadline Extended – Secondary school essay contest on the Magna Carta

[posted June 19, 2015]

The deadline for the secondary school essay contest has been extended to December 31, 2015 in order to ensure all students have adequate time to submit their entry.

The contest was launched in March 2015 to honour of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and to support our strategic goal of raising public awareness of the importance of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. The essay topic is “Magna Carta and its relevance to Canada in the 21st Century.” The competition is open to public school secondary students in BC who are currently enrolled in, or have taken, Law 12 and/or Civics Studies 11 courses in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 academic years.

Students are asked to submit an essay that demonstrates an understanding of the significance of the Magna Carta to the rule of law, human rights and democratic principles. The first prize winner will receive an award of $1,000 and will be invited to a special awards presentation event in Vancouver; the runner up will receive $500. For more on the contest or how to submit an essay, download the information forms.

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Reminder: Law Society Rules 2015 in effect July 1

[posted June 18, 2015]

The revised and consolidated Law Society Rules, which were adopted by the Benchers in April, will come into effect on July 1, 2015.

The primary objectives of the revision and consolidation are to:

  • re-number all rules and subrules in consecutive whole number order to eliminate decimal numbering;
  • add headings to cross-references to aid recognition;
  • consider the logical placement of provisions and relocate as necessary;
  • ensure consistency and economy of language;
  • identify substantive issues for consideration outside of the consolidation project.

Download a PDF of the new Law Society Rules 2015; a concordance between the new and old rules is also available.

The new rules will be published in the June 2015 Member's Manual amendment package, which will be emailed to e-subscribers early next week; print copies will be mailed to paid subscribers on June 24-25.

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Important PLTC registration information for 2016

[posted June 17, 2015]

Does your firm plan to hire an articled student to start in 2016? The number of articled students in BC has increased substantially in recent years. Early PLTC applicants are more likely to be placed in their session of choice.

Although PLTC has greatly increased its capacity and does its best to place students in the session of their first choice, this is not always possible. For the best chance of your student attending the PLTC session of choice, please note the following registration deadlines for 2016 PLTC:

  • October 15, 2015: to attend PLTC February - April 2016 (Vancouver only)
  • December 15, 2015: to attend PLTC May - July 2016 (Vancouver, Victoria or Kamloops)
  • March 01, 2016: to attend PLTC September - November 2016 (Vancouver only)

As there are often more applications for a particular session than there is space, applicants may be asked to choose between attending a later session or attending in a different location. That is why we recommend that applications be submitted as early as possible.

Some tips:

  • If the registration deadline has already passed, contact PLTC as there may still be space available or a wait list.
  • A student’s second choice on the application must be one he or she is able to attend.
  • Students currently attending law school in Kamloops or Victoria may have a better chance of summer registration in those locations regardless of where they are articling.
  • If a student will be attending a later session than what was requested, the firm can avoid “interrupting” articles with PLTC by delaying the start of articles until after PLTC is complete.
  • If a student has specific health or family reasons for needing to attend a particular location, include that information with the application.

Articling and PLTC are important components of the Law Society Admission Program, helping to build a foundation for new lawyers beginning the practice of law. If you have any questions or want further information on the Law Society Admissions Program, visit our web page here.

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Date set for TWU hearing

[posted April 30, 2015]

At a judicial management conference on April 28, a date was set for the hearing of TWU’s petition against the Law Society. The hearing before Chief Justice Hinkson will take place in BC Supreme Court commencing August 24 for five days. The Law Society has also filed an Amended Response.

Trinity Western University: proposed law school

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Articling offers by downtown Vancouver firms to stay open to August 14

[posted April 17, 2015]

All offers of articling positions made this year by law firms with offices in downtown Vancouver must remain open until 8 am on Friday, August 14, 2015. Downtown Vancouver is defined as the area in the city of Vancouver west of Carrall Street and north of False Creek.

Set by the Credentials Committee under Rule 2-31, the deadline applies to offers made to both first and second-year law students. The deadline does not affect offers made to third-year law students or offers of summer positions (temporary ­articles).

Law firms are encouraged to set an ­acceptance deadline for 8 am on August 14; if the offer is not accepted, the firm can make a new offer to another student within the same day. Law firms cannot ask students whether they would accept an offer if an offer was made, as this places students in the very position Rule 2-31 is intended to prevent.

If a law student advises that he or she has accepted another offer before August 14, the firm can consider its offer rejected. If a third party advises a lawyer that a ­student has accepted another offer, the lawyer must confirm this information with the student. Should circumstances arise that require the withdrawal of an articling offer prior to August 14, the lawyer must receive prior approval from the Credentials Committee. The committee may consider conflicts of interest or other factors that reflect on a student’s suitability as an articled student in deciding whether to allow the lawyer to withdraw the offer.

For further information, contact Member Services at 604.605.5311.

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Law Society submits brief on Bill C-51 to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

[posted March 24, 2015]

The Law Society supports measures to protect and preserve public safety, and recognizes the challenges that government faces from threats of terrorism worldwide. However, it is concerned that several aspects of Bill C-51 do not appropriately balance efforts to protect public safety with rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadians by the Charter. In its brief to the standing committee, the Law Society focuses on the most constitutionally troublesome provisions of Bill C-51, which are found in amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.

See the brief here.

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SCC decision

[posted February 13, 2015]

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada announced its decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada on the applicability of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and its regulations to members of the legal profession. Its decision upheld the 2013 decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which ruled that the regulation of the legal profession by Canada’s law societies provided an effective and constitutional anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regime. This decision protects the public against government interference in the confidential relationship between a lawyer and a client.

The Court recognized that as a principle of fundamental justice, the state cannot impose duties on lawyers that undermine their duty of commitment to their clients’ causes. Moreover, the maintenance of solicitor-client privilege is integral to the public’s confidence in the administration of justice. The Law Society has rules requiring legal professionals to identify their clients, as well as cash transaction rules. These rules ensure lawyers have clear obligations that protect against money laundering and terrorist financing.

In making this decision, the court accepted that adequate client identification and record-keeping practices were already in place by virtue of the law societies’ regulation of their members, and held that all legal professionals are exempt from the legislation.

The Law Society of BC is pleased with this decision. This lengthy debate began in British Columbia 15 years ago, and throughout the process the Law Society worked with the Federation, the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau Du Quebec, and the Chambre des notaires du Quebec to bring this important matter to a successful and just conclusion.

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