On July 19, 2021, the Law Society announced that we had retained Harry Cayton to conduct an independent review of our governance rules, practices and policies, including how they support equity, diversity and inclusivity. Cayton, selected for this review because of his knowledge and experience working with professional regulatory bodies in British Columbia and a number of other jurisdictions, was also asked to evaluate our governance against the prescribed Standards of Good Governance and to make recommendations for any improvements that he considered necessary.

View the terms of reference for the review

Cayton’s report was released December 3, 2021. He found that the Law Society meets or partially meets 7 of 9 Standards of Good Governance, which he characterized as “an acceptable result on a first assessment as the Standards are intentionally demanding.”

In Cayton’s view, the Law Society met the standards relating to transparency, equity and diversity, effective oversight, and appropriately understanding its role as a regulator. The three standards he thought were partially met by the Law Society were having an effective process for managing risk of harm, having clear governance policies, and having strategic objectives and assessing the outcomes of those objectives for clients and the public. Finally, the two standards that Cayton did not think the Law Society met were its active responsiveness to the profession in stark contrast with its lack of engagement with the public or legal clients.

Cayton makes recommendations, 30 in all, that are based on his assessment of the Law Society’s governance framework against the Standards of Good Governance and his observations of our governance in practice. They include measures to reinforce consideration of the public’s interests, including equity and diversity, amending the composition, role and responsibilities of the board, and strengthening processes for conflicts of interest.

His recommendations also include reconsidering how to assess and mitigate risks of harms to legal clients and the public, addressing the very small number of lawyers responsible for a large number of complaints, and introducing measures for making it easier to make a complaint. Cayton also recommends measures directed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of board and committee meetings.

View the full report

About the process

Harry Cayton reviewed the Law Society’s foundational documents – the Legal Profession Act, its rules, code of professional conduct and procedures and policies, including terms of reference for committees. Restrictions on travel and personal contact due to the global pandemic meant opportunities for engagement and observation had to occur virtually. Cayton observed meetings, read minutes of meetings and of reports to the Benchers and conducted interviews with current and former Benchers and committee members, staff, and other key stakeholders. He was also provided with access to published and internal records and documents.

About Harry Cayton

Harry Cayton is a well-recognized expert on professional regulation and governance and have reviewed and reported on a number of professional regulators. He was instrumental in developing the principles of "right-touch regulation" which have influenced professional regulators around the world.

Formerly CEO of the UK’s Professional Standards Authority, Cayton has provided reports to BC regulators, including a statutory inquiry into the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia and the Health Professions Act.