News Release
December 03, 2021

VANCOUVER – December 3, 2021

In July 2021, the Law Society retained Harry Cayton to conduct an independent review of our governance structure. Cayton, an internationally recognized expert in professional regulation governance, has knowledge and experience working with professional regulatory bodies in British Columbia. The Law Society asked him to consider our governance rules, practices and policies, including how they support equity, diversity and inclusivity, evaluate them against the prescribed Standards of Good Governance, and make recommendations for any improvements he considered necessary.

For his review, Cayton was given full access to Law Society documents and records. He observed the proceedings of the annual general meeting in October. Cayton also conducted over 30 interviews, attended board and committee meetings, met with chairs of the executive and access to justice advisory committees and reviewed recordings of a selection of committee meetings.

Cayton found that the Law Society meets or partially meets seven of the nine Standards of Good Governance. He identified as strengths our comprehensive governance policies and procedures, commitment to equity and diversity and to reconciliation, the board’s respectful discussion of issues and the positive relationship between the board and executive team. Key areas of concern were consultation and engagement that takes into account lawyers’ views and, by contrast, our lack of direct engagement with the public and consideration of their interests in decision-making.

“The Law Society meets four and partially meets three more Standards. This is an acceptable result on a first assessment as the Standards are intentionally demanding,” Cayton said. “There is recognition of more to be done, and I have made recommendations to assist the Society. I believe the strong relationship between the Benchers and the staff executive team will provide a good foundation for addressing weaknesses and improving the Society’s ability to uphold and protect the public interest.”

In his report, Cayton makes recommendations relating to governance structures, membership and elections, reducing conflicts of duties and interests, management of risks of harm, and the efficiency and effectiveness of governance. The Law Society has already begun developing initiatives that anticipated some of his recommendations, including further evolution of the tribunal process, recruiting tribunal members from diverse groups of lawyers and the public, and simplifying the complaints process to make it more accessible.

“The Law Society undertook this governance review and engaged Harry Cayton to conduct it expecting we would benefit from his knowledge and experience with professional regulatory bodies, globally and locally, and from the frank assessment he provides,” said Law Society President Dean Lawton, QC. “I am pleased with the report and I know the board will give serious and thoughtful deliberation to all that he has recommended.”

“The board will be giving further consideration to the report and recommendations early in 2022,” said Lisa Hamilton, QC, who begins her term as Law Society President in January. “I anticipate asking the staff executive team to assess the practical implications of the recommendations and provide advice to the board on how to move forward with the improvements that have been suggested.”

We will be reporting on our progress along the way.

You can read Cayton’s report here.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Jason Kuzminski
Director of Communications