Law Society committees have specialized roles that carry out many of the regulatory functions of the Law Society and assist with policy development.

Committees and task forces are comprised of Benchers and lawyers from all over BC, all of whom volunteer their time to the Law Society.

An archive of reference resources produced and compiled by past committees and task forces is available here.

Committees

The Act and Rules Committee recommends amendments to the Legal Profession Act and Law Society Rules.

Benchers

Lee Ongman (Chair)
Jeevyn Dhaliwal
Dean Lawton, QC

Staff contact

Jeff Hoskins, QC

The Complainants' Review Committee reviews the case files of complainants who are dissatisfied with dismissal of their complaints following a review by Law Society staff, see Law Society Rules 3-13 to 3-14.

Benchers

Satwinder Bains (Chair)
J.S. (Woody) Hayes, FCPA, FCA (Vice-Chair)
Elizabeth Rowbotham
Herman Van Ommen, QC
Tony Wilson, QC

Non-Benchers

Julianne Lamb

Staff liaison

Sandra Sukstorf

The Ethics Committee identifies current professional responsibility issues and makes recommendations on changes to the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (formerly called the Professional Conduct Handbook) for consideration by the Benchers. The Committee also interprets existing Code rules, gives advice to individual lawyers and publishes opinions to the profession at large on matters of professional responsibility.

Benchers

Craig Ferris, QC (Chair)
Sharon Matthews, QC (Vice-Chair)
Jasmin Ahmad
Thomas Fellhauer
Steven McKoen
Gregory Petrisor
Elizabeth Rowbotham
Mark Rushton

Non-Bencher

Greg DelBigio, QC

Staff contact

Lance Cooke

The Executive Committee consists of the President, the First and Second Vice-Presidents, the Second Vice-President-elect, three other Benchers elected from among the Benchers as a whole and one Appointed Bencher elected from among the Appointed Benchers.

The responsibilities of the Executive Committee include assisting the Benchers and the Executive Director in establishing relative priorities for the assignment of Society financial, staff and volunteer resources and planning Bencher meetings. For more on this committee, see Law Society Rules 1-48 to 1-49.

Benchers

Herman Van Ommen, QC (Chair)
Miriam Kresivo, QC (Vice-Chair)
Satwinder Bains
Thomas Fellhauer
Craig Ferris, QC
Nancy Merrill, QC
Sarah Westwood

Staff contact

Renee Collins

The Finance Committee and Audit Committee merged on January 1, 2014 to form the Finance and Audit Committee.

The Finance and Audit Committee provides oversight over the financial affairs of the Law Society. The committee provides recommendations on the annual fees, reviews the annual budgets, and periodically reviews the financial and investment results as needed. In addition, the committee oversees the external audit process, recommends the approval of the audited financial statements to the Benchers, and provides oversight over the internal controls and enterprise risk management of the Law Society.

Benchers

Miriam Kresivo, QC (Chair)
Craig Ferris, QC (Vice-Chair)
Thomas Fellhauer
J.S. (Woody) Hayes, FCPA, FCA
Sharon Matthews, QC
Steven McKoen
Nancy Merrill, QC
Herman Van Ommen, QC

Non-Benchers

Peter Kelly

Staff contact

Jeanette McPhee

 

The Credentials Committee is responsible for overseeing the enrolment, education, examination and call to the bar of articled students, the transfer of lawyers to B.C. and the reinstatement of former lawyers. When the character or fitness of an applicant for admission, readmission or transfer needs to be addressed, the Committee considers the application directly or orders a formal credentials hearing. The Committee is also responsible for reviewing applications relating to a student's failed standing in PLTC and for considering any matters arising from the articling system. The Committee further assists the Benchers in setting credentials policy and ensuring that this policy is adhered to and assists in credentials program planning, evaluation and budget. For more on this committee, see Law Society Rules 2-50 to 2-104.

Benchers

Lisa Hamilton (Chair)
Martin Finch, QC (Vice-Chair)
Satwinder Bains
Jeffrey Campbell, QC
Pinder Cheema, QC
Miriam Kresivo, QC
Carolynn Ryan

Non-Benchers

Judith Macfarlane

Staff contact

Lesley Small

The Discipline Committee reviews complaints concerning lawyers or articled students that are referred by Law Society staff, the Complainants' Review Committee or any other committee. The Discipline Committee may dismiss a complaint, instruct staff to make further investigation, order a conduct review of a lawyer or recommend that a citation for a formal hearing be issued against a lawyer. The Committee also considers conditional admissions of discipline violations. For more on this committee, see Part 4 of the Law Society Rules.

Benchers

Brook Greenberg (Chair)
Claude Richmond (Vice-Chair)
Jeevyn Dhaliwal
Christopher McPherson
Nancy Merrill, QC
Lee Ongman
Philip Riddell

Non-Benchers

Michael Feder

Staff contact

Deborah Armour

The Governance Committee assesses the Law Society’s current governance structure and practices to identify any areas for improvement.

Benchers

Steven McKoen (Chair)
Satwinder Bains
Lisa Hamilton
Miriam Kresivo, QC
Jamie Maclaren
Elizabeth Rowbotham
Sarah Westwood

Staff Contacts

Adam Whitcombe
Renee Collins

The Practice Standards Committee reviews information about lawyers who may have competency-related problems and, when appropriate, orders investigations. The Committee recommends ways for lawyers with competency problems to become competent, such as through remedial programs, or restricts them from some areas of practice when necessary to protect the public. The Committee also helps plan programs to assist lawyers to practise more competently and maintain their own competence, and assists the Benchers in setting competency-related policy. For more on the Committee, see Law Society Rules 3-10 to 3-18.

Benchers

Sarah Westwood (Chair)
Dean Lawton, QC (Vice-Chair)
J. S. (Woody) Hayes, FCPA, FCA
Jamie Maclaren
Dan Smith
Michelle Stanford
Tony Wilson, QC

Non-Bencher

John Waddell, QC

Staff contact

Kensi Gounden

The Unauthorized Practice Committee enforces the Legal Profession Act with respect to all aspects of the practice of law by people who are not lawyers and develops policy recommendations for the Benchers in unauthorized practice matters.

Benchers

Carolynn Ryan (Chair)
Gregory Petrisor (Vice-Chair)
Pinder Cheema, QC
Jeevyn Dhaliwal
Martin Finch, QC
Lee Ongman
Michelle Stanford

Staff contact

Michael Kleisinger

Subcommittees, Advisory Committees and Task Forces

The Appointments Subcommittee provides advice and guidance to the Executive Committee, the Benchers and the President for managing the Law Society’s appointment of directors and governors to the boards of more than 20 organizations.

Benchers

Herman Van Ommen, QC (Chair)
Miriam Kresivo, QC
Nancy Merrill, QC

Staff contact

Renee Collins

The Litigation Subcommittee deals with litigation matters that are referred by staff and determines which matters should come before the Executive Committee.

Benchers

Herman Van Ommen, QC (Chair)
Miriam Kresivo, QC
Nancy Merrill, QC

Staff contact

Deborah Armour

Benchers

Craig Ferris, QC (Chair)
Miriam Kresivo, QC
Herman Van Ommen, QC
Peter Lloyd, FCPA, FCA (Life Bencher)

Non-Bencher

Peter Kelly

Staff contact

Jeanette McPhee

The Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee monitors developments on issues affecting access to legal services, and reports those developments to the Benchers on a semi-annual basis. The committee advises the Benchers annually on priority planning with respect to access to legal services.

Benchers

Martin Finch, QC (Chair)
Jeffrey Campbell, QC
Christopher McPherson
Gregory Petrisor
Mark Rushton
Dan Smith
Michelle Stanford

Non-Benchers

Claire Hunter (Vice-Chair)
Jean Whittow, QC

Staff contact

Doug Munro

The Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee monitors developments on issues affecting equity and diversity in the legal profession and the justice system. It reports to the Benchers on those developments and assists the Benchers with priority planning.

Benchers

Nancy Merrill, QC (Chair)
Lisa Hamilton (Vice-Chair)
Jasmin Ahmad
Brook Greenberg
Jamie Maclaren
Christopher McPherson
Carolynn Ryan
Dan Smith

Non-Bencher

Linda Parsons, QC

Staff contact

Andrea Hilland

Publications

June 2012: Towards a More Diverse Legal Profession: Better practices, better workplaces, better results

July 2006: Report of the Interpreters Working Group

October 2004: Lawyers with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Equality

April 2000: Addressing Discriminatory Barriers Facing Aboriginal Law Students and Lawyers

The Lawyer Education Advisory Committee monitors developments on issues affecting lawyer education in BC, and reports to the Benchers about those developments on a semi-annual basis. The committee advises the Benchers annually on priority planning with respect to the education of lawyers in BC.

Benchers

Dean Lawton, QC (Chair)
Sarah Westwood (Vice-Chair)
Jasmin Ahmad
Thomas Fellhauer
Brook Greenberg
Philip Riddell
Tony Wilson, QC

Non-Bencher

Micah Rankin

Staff contact

Alan Treleaven

Publications

December 2015: Admission Program Review Report

November 2011: Reconciling Qualifications for Differing Types of Legal Services

December 2010: Report on Professional Education

September 2011: Continuing Professional Development Review and Recommendations

December 2010: Report on Advocacy Education

November 2009: Proposed Program for Accredited Mentoring 

November 2007: Continuing Professional Development

November 2006: Preliminary Report on Mandatory Continuing Professional Development

November 2005: New Firm Practice Course Proposal

March, 2004: Lawyer Education Task Force: First Interim Report

The mandate of the Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee is to advise the Benchers on matters relating to the rule of law and lawyer independence so that the Law Society can ensure:

  • its processes and activities preserve and promote the preservation of the rule of law and the independence and effective self-governance of lawyers; and
  • the legal profession and the public are properly informed about the meaning and importance of the rule of law and how a self-governing profession of independent lawyers supports and is a necessary component of the rule of law.

The Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee also monitors issues that affect or might affect the independence of lawyers and the rule of law, and develops means by which the Law Society can effectively respond to those issues.

Benchers

Craig Ferris, QC (Chair)
Mark Rushton (Vice-Chair)
Jeffrey Campbell, QC
Pinder Cheema, QC
Sharon Matthews, QC
Claude Richmond
Philip Riddell

Non-Benchers

Jon Festinger, QC
The Honourable Marshall Rothstein, QC

Staff contact

Michael Lucas

Publications

July 2016: The Principles for the Appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court of Canada

April 2013: Examination of the Relationship Between the Law Society as Regulator of Lawyers and as Insurer of Lawyers

 

In October 2015, the Benchers recognized the importance of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and urged all lawyers in British Columbia to read the executive summary of the Commission's report.

The Benchers agreed that addressing the findings and recommendations of the report is one of the most critical obligations facing the country and the legal system today. The Law Society continues to work on developing a long-term action plan in collaboration with Indigenous peoples on how best to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.

The topic for the Benchers’ annual retreat in early June was "Engaging Discussion on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action." Indigenous presenters shared their insights at the retreat.

In July 2016, the Benchers unanimously endorsed the creation of a permanent Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee.

The Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee provides guidance and advice to the Law Society on legal issues affecting Indigenous people in the province, including those highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and recommendations. The committee monitors and reports to the Benchers on those developments, advises the Benchers on priority planning and develops recommendations and initiatives.

Co-chairs

Grand Chief Ed John 
Herman Van Ommen, QC

Benchers

Dean Lawton, QC
Lee Ongman
Daniel Smith

Non-Benchers

John Borrows
Judge Len Marchand
Michael McDonald
Ardith Walkem 

Staff Contact

Andrea Hilland

When the Legal Profession Act was amended in 2012, the Law Society was given the authority to regulate “law firms” in addition to its authority to regulate individual lawyers. “Law firm” is defined as “a legal entity or combination of legal entities carrying on the practice of law.” The Law Firm Regulation Task Force has been created and given a mandate to recommend a framework for the regulation of law firms.

Benchers

Herman Van Ommen, QC (Chair)
Martin Finch, QC
Sharon Matthews, QC 
Peter Lloyd, FCPA, FCA (Vice-Chair; Life Bencher)

Non-Benchers

Jan Christiansen
Lori Mathison
Angela Westmacott, QC
Henry Wood, QC

Staff contact

Michael Lucas

Publications

October 2016: Interim Report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force

Legal Aid Task Force

The Legal Aid Task Force has a mandate to:

  • develop a principled vision for the Law Society concerning publicly funded legal aid;
  • identify ways that the Law Society could promote and improve lawyer involvement in delivering legal services through legal aid plans;
  • identify ways to enhance Law Society leadership concerning legal aid; and
  • develop the best methods of engagement with other organizations to coordinate the efficient use of resources in improving publicly funded legal aid. 

Benchers

Nancy Merrill, QC (Chair)
Pinder Cheema, QC
Sarah Westwood
Richard Peck, QC (Vice-Chair; Life Bencher) 

Non-Benchers

Thomas Christensen, QC
Hon. Lance Finch, QC
Linda Thomas
Janet Winteringham, QC 

Staff contacts

Michael Lucas
Doug Munro