Notice to the Profession
March 04, 2021

While the provincial government has once again renewed the state of emergency for a further two weeks, and the provincial health emergency orders and directives continue to remain in effect until further notice, we want to update you on recent news and measures that may be of significance to you and your practice.

Video message from President Dean Lawton, QC on mental health

As we emerge from the darkest months of the year, you may be finding that nearly one year of living under provincial health emergency orders and restrictions is starting to wear you down. In this video, Dean Lawton, QC notes that if you feel this way, you’re not alone – and he encourages us to check in with each other, be aware of all of the different resources and support that Lawyers Assistance Program and LifeWorks offer, or you may reach out to a Law Society practice advisor or Bencher. It helps to talk.

Suspension of jury trials

The provincial government has announced that it is extending the temporary suspension of civil jury trials in the BC Supreme Court by an additional year, in order to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the courts. The new date when civil jury trials are expected to resume will be October 8, 2022, with any trial before this date to be heard by judge alone. Criminal jury trials resumed on September 8, 2020 and are not affected by this announcement. Further information is available in the provincial government’s news release.

Free CPD programs

As part of an ongoing effort to make it easier to fulfill annual CPD requirements despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Law Society, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC and Courthouse Libraries BC have developed content and programs that are available free of charge: see Free online CPD programs.

CLEBC is offering webinars and resources on lawyer well-being, including Increasing Productivity Through Happiness, Wellness at Your Desk: Mental and Physical Health Tips for Busy Lawyers and Mental Health and the Legal Profession, as well as a recording of the recent A2JBC event Transforming Legal Practice: Lawyers Increasing Access to Justice, featuring keynote speaker Rebecca Sandefur of Arizona State University. More information and further course offerings are available on the CLEBC website.

Courthouse Libraries BC and the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice are offering a webinar on court changes after COVID-19 and Indigenous cultural relevancy that considers the vulnerabilities of the justice system the pandemic exposed and their impacts on Indigenous peoples in Canada. The webinar will be held online on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 (12:30 to 2 pm). Further details, including how to register, are available here.

New Rule of Law Matters episode

Click here to find the latest episode of the Rule of Law Matters podcast, in which the Honourable Irwin Cotler talks about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the October Crisis of 1970, China’s detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the risk of foreign influences infiltrating governments here at home.