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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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Law Society 2014 Report on Performance and audited financial statements now available

[posted April 17, 2015]

The Law Society's 2014 Report on Performance and audited financial statements are now available. Our annual report describes the achievements under the Law Society’s 2012-2014 Strategic Plan, including a review of strategic initiatives related to:

  • regulation of law firms;
  • improving affordability of legal services;
  • regulation of all legal services providers;
  • retention of women lawyers;
  • mentoring Aboriginal lawyers.

For the eighth year, we also review key performance measures for our core regulatory functions to evaluate the overall effectiveness of Law Society programs. These performance measures form a critical part of our regulatory transparency, informing the public, government, the media and the legal community about how we are meeting our regulatory obligations.

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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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In memoriam: Bencher Benjimen Meisner

[posted April 2, 2015]

Benjimen MeisnerThe Law Society is saddened to learn of the passing of Appointed Bencher Benjimen Meisner. He was 76.

Ben was a long-serving and valued member of the Law Society Bencher table. During his tenure, he was a member of the Law Society’s Credentials Committee and Unauthorized Practice Committee.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Ben worked for nearly 60 years in the media as a news reporter, writer and, for much of his career, a talk show host. His outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism has been acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Radio and TV News Directors’ Association of Canada. He was also a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of his volunteer efforts to help people who live along the Nechako River.

The Law Society extends its condolences to Ben’s wife Elaine, his children, and the rest of his family and friends.

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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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Revision and consolidation of Law Society Rules

[posted March 16, 2015]

At their next meeting on April 10, it is expected that the Benchers will adopt revised and consolidated Law Society Rules, to come into effect 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.

Click here to download the draft Law Society Rules 2015; or download a red-lined version for background information.

A historical table showing the new and old numbers assigned to each rule with the dates of past changes since the 1998 Rules is included at the end of the files.

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Essay contest invites high school students to consider the relevance of the Magna Carta

[posted March 10, 2015]

Consistent with our strategic goal of raising public awareness of the importance of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, the Law Society is hosting an essay writing contest in honour of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The essay topic is “Magna Carta and its relevance to Canada in the 21st Century.”

The competition is open to students in a BC public high school in the 2014/15 academic year who are currently enrolled in, or have taken, Law 12 and/or Civics Studies 11 courses. 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. Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.

For more on the contest or how to submit an essay, download the information form.

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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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