Quick Facts: About the Law Society
The Law Society:
- regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province;
- ensures the public is well served by a legal profession that is competent and honourable;
- under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, sets and enforces standards for the education, professional responsibility and competence of lawyers;
- brings a voice to issues affecting the justice system and the delivery of legal services;
- protects the public by taking action against those who illegally offer legal services or misrepresent themselves as lawyers.
Regulation of lawyers
The Law Society regulates lawyers from the time they begin their one-year article (practicum), until they are no longer licensed as lawyers in BC.
The regulation of lawyers includes:
- setting of admissions and credentials standards to ensure new lawyers are properly qualified to practise law;
- investigation of complaints and discipline for misconduct;
- establishment of practice standards to maintain ongoing competency;
- regular audits and review of lawyers’ trust accounts practices;
- temporary custody of a lawyer’s practice to assist clients when a lawyer is unable to work;
- management of the required continuing professional development program and educational programs to make sure lawyers are up to date on best practices and legal education;
- provision of practice advice to lawyers on ethical and legal practice issues;
- operation of the mandatory Lawyers Insurance Fund program, providing liability and trust protection coverage.
Operations and governance
Members of the Law Society’s board of governors are called Benchers:
- 25 Benchers are lawyers elected by other lawyers from nine regions across BC
- up to six additional Appointed Benchers, who are not lawyers, are chosen by the provincial government
- the Attorney General of BC is also a Bencher
With the exception of the president, all Benchers, as well as all members of Bencher committees, subcommittees and task forces, are volunteers to the Law Society.
The executive director, or chief executive officer, of the Law Society directs the Law Society operations.
- There are more than 10,000 practising lawyers and 1,000 non-practising lawyers in BC.
- Lawyers are required to be licensed with the Law Society.
- The Law Society employs about 180 legal and administrative employees.
- 2013 annual fees paid by lawyers to the Law Society are $3,643.06.
- Every year, the over 30 governors, or Benchers, as well as about 300 lawyers volunteer their time to the Law Society.
- According to Access Pro Bono Society of BC, British Columbia has the highest percentage of lawyers working pro bono, or donating their legal experience, in Canada.
- Approximately 1,200 complaints are received per year
- About 85% of complaints received are quickly concluded, usually because they have no legal merit, are outside the Law Society's jurisdiction, require no further action or are resolved.
- In 2012, 92% of all files were closed within one year, while some take longer due to their complexity.