E-brief: December 2017

Benchers adopt 2018-2020 strategic plan

The Benchers approved the 2018-2020 strategic plan, which outlines the Law Society’s priorities and goals for the next three years. The strategic plan’s initiatives include enhancing access to justice, ensuring the public has greater confidence in the administration of justice, responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, implementing law firm regulation and improving mental health in the legal profession. Read the strategic plan here.

Benchers approve pilot project for law firm regulation

At their meeting on December 8, 2017, the Benchers approved the recommendations of the second interim report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force as amended at the meeting and resolved to initiate them through a pilot project that will be rolled out in 2018. Details will be posted to our website as they become available in the coming months.

Benchers approve recommendations on continuing professional development

The Benchers approved the final report of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee on the continuing professional development requirement. The report proposes a number of modifications that will result in an expansion of eligible learning activities and greater flexibility on how and when lawyers can satisfy their CPD credits. Some of the modifications to the CPD program will commence during the 2018 reporting year, and others will come into effect January 1, 2019. Further information will be posted to our website as it becomes available. Read the report here.

Truth and Reconciliation Symposium: “But I Was Wearing a Suit” video available online

The Law Society held its first Truth and Reconciliation Symposium on November 23 where participants shared their ideas on how the legal profession can address systemic biases against Indigenous people and how the Law Society can take action to facilitate reconciliation. More than 450 lawyers, judges, academics and representatives from legal and Indigenous organizations participated. A mini documentary titled “But I Was Wearing a Suit,” in which Indigenous lawyers voiced their experiences of discrimination and racial stereotypes, was shown during the introductory plenary. The video is available on the Law Society’s YouTube channel.

Rule amendment: Bencher qualification

The Benchers have amended the Law Society Rules to remove the requirement that lawyers have at least seven years of call to the bar before qualifying to be a candidate in a Bencher election. Click here for highlights of amendments.

Rule amendments: Electronic transfer of trust funds

New rules enable lawyers to electronically transfer trust funds using an online banking platform from the lawyer’s trust account to third parties, from the lawyer’s trust account to general account and between the lawyer’s trust accounts. These rules are effective July 1, 2018. For more details, see the website highlight.

Draft rule changes on interviewing and communicating with witnesses

The Ethics Committee seeks comment on draft changes to BC Code rules 5.3 and 5.4 on interviewing and communicating with witnesses. Consultation materials are posted on the Law Society’s website. This consultation concludes on December 29, 2017.

Supreme Court of Canada considered TWU v. Law Society

The Law Society’s appeal was heard by a panel of nine justices in the Supreme Court of Canada from November 30 to December 1. The justices reserved their decision. Check back on the Law Society’s website for future updates.

From the courts

Court sheriffs are phasing out magnetic swipe card readers to new proximity readers for counsel access at the New Westminster and Port Coquitlam courthouses. Counsel will require a new photo proximity card issued by the sheriffs in order to maintain existing access to the barristers lounge and the law library, as the magnetic swipe cards will no longer work after January 30, 2018. Effective December 1, 2017, proximity cards will also be required to access the barristers lounge at Surrey Provincial Court. For further information, please see the sheriff services counter at one of these courthouses.

The Provincial Court issued an amended Notice to the Profession and Public regarding South Peace Family Mediation Options (NP 09) on November 8, 2017. See the court’s website for details.

Save the date: Retirement dinner for Chief Justice McLachlin

The National Judicial Institute is organizing an event on April 27, 2018 in Vancouver to mark the retirement of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, PC, Chief Justice of Canada. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.