President’s Blog
January 30, 2018

by Miriam Kresivo, QC

The beginning of the year was also the beginning of my term as president of the Law Society. I am delighted to be serving the public and the legal profession in this role, and to continue working with my Bencher colleagues, the leadership and staff of the Law Society.

January 1 was also the beginning of Don Avison’s start as our new executive director and chief executive officer. Don brings valuable experience in the legal, policy and regulatory fields, and he has extensive leadership experience as president of the Research Universities Council of British Columbia, and as chair of the Foundation for the Centre for Disease Control, the Centre for Drug Research and Development, and the BC Oil and Gas Commission’s regulatory committee. He will be a great asset in leading the Law Society’s implementation of our plans.

Which brings me to another new development that was launched at the beginning of January – the Law Society’s Strategic Plan 2018-2020.

Every three years, the Law Society updates its strategic plan to address the most pressing issues facing the legal profession and administration of justice. The plan is more than a visionary statement – it sets out the priorities that the Law Society will work on over the next three years. The Benchers and staff of the Law Society will develop specific, measureable outcomes that demonstrate achievement of the goals set out in the plan.

Strategic Plan 2018-2020 covers a lot of ground. Some of the highlights of what we will be focusing on over the next three years include:

  • improving the public’s access to legal services through the regulation of alternative legal service providers and advancing the Law Society’s vision for publicly funded legal aid,
  • continuing to advance the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report,
  • addressing the reality of mental health issues within the profession, and
  • implementing a pilot project for law firm regulation.

These priorities reflect the Benchers’ goal of modernizing the Law Society as a regulator and leading voice on justice issues that affect the public and the legal profession.

As important as each of the priorities and goals in the strategic plan may be, it would be foolhardy to try to put everything into operation at once and expect success. As the saying goes, “if everything is a priority then nothing is.” We intend to take a phased approach to the priorities over the course of the three-year plan.

For my term as president, the main focus will be achieving progress on licensing alternate legal service providers and addressing mental health in the legal profession. To this end, I have asked the Benchers to establish a new task force on mental health in the legal profession and a working group to develop an alternative legal service providers framework. We recognize that mental health is a significant issue in our profession. We need to do more to destigmatize mental health issues and consider proactive steps we can take as a regulator to support lawyers get the help they need earlier. And we realize that the public continues to have unmet or underserved needs. The Law Society will be working toward qualifying, credentialing and regulating a new class of legal service providers to help the public meet those needs, with the initial focus being in the area of family law.

I am excited about the year ahead. We have a great plan, and solid new leadership for me to work with in implementing the plan. I will continue to update you on our progress throughout the year in future blog posts.