E-Brief: December 2021

Cayton report on Law Society governance

At the December meeting of the governing board, Harry Cayton presented his report on the Law Society’s governance, including how our rules, practices and policies support equity, diversity and inclusivity. Cayton, an international authority on professional regulatory governance, found that the Law Society meets or partially meets 7 of 9 Standards of Good Governance, and he made 30 recommendations for reinforcing consideration of the public’s interests and improving our effectiveness and efficiency. The board will further consider the report in early 2022. For the full report and recommendations, visit our website.

Amendments to the Law Society Rules

Rule changes that reform procedures of the Law Society Tribunal were approved, effective January 1, 2022. These include consolidating the Tribunal hearing rules, mandating publication of all Tribunal decisions except in extraordinary circumstances dictated by the public interest, establishing the roles of “Tribunal Chair” and “motions adjudicator,” and standardizing processes for pre-hearing orders and for variation of orders. The Benchers also adopted a rule change that enables the imposition of an administrative suspension where a lawyer does not complete the Indigenous intercultural course within two years. See the highlights of amendments here.

Proposed trust filing requirements with CRA for separate trust accounts

The federal government has proposed but not yet enacted new filing requirements to apply to tax years ending on and after December 31, 2021 (Regulation 204.2 under the Income Tax Act). These new requirements would not affect lawyers’ pooled trust accounts, but if enacted, would apply to separate trust accounts held by lawyers on behalf of clients. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has been in contact with the government for some time to discuss and clarify the proposed changes and requirements. We understand that the proposed rules are intended to allow CRA to better assess tax liability.

Last chance to preview Indigenous intercultural course

Since the preview period opened in September, over 700 lawyers and other volunteers have registered to access the course materials, review the content and provide comments. Anyone who still wishes to enrol in the preview is asked to register by sending an email to Indigenous@lsbc.org by 4 pm on December 15, 2021. After the deadline, the opportunity to volunteer for the preview will close. Those who have volunteered are encouraged to provide their feedback by the end of the year, in order to give the course developers time to incorporate feedback into the version that will be formally launched in January 2022.

Reminder: Complete and record your CPD for 2021

The December 31 deadline for completing your 2021 CPD credits is fast approaching – don’t wait until the last minute as CPD approvals can take up to 2 weeks. If you have completed your 12 hours of approved CPD but have not recorded them in the member portal, remember to do so before December 31, 2021. Click here for a list a free CPD courses that count toward your credits. More information about the CPD program is available here and information on recording CPD hours is available here.

COVID-19 response measures and reducing regulatory barriers to access to legal services

Following a series of Access to Justice Advisory Committee engagement sessions with members of the profession that reviewed how measures adopted in response to COVID-19 have improved or hindered access to legal services, the committee proposed principles that were adopted by the board to guide policy development aimed at reducing regulatory barriers, for advocating government, the courts and others to maintain certain COVID-19 response measures, and for directing staff to evaluate what changes can be made to regulatory requirements. Read the report here.

In case you missed it: “But I Look Like A Lawyer”

In November, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia) premiered “But I Look Like a Lawyer,” a documentary video about discrimination, stereotyping and bias experienced by members of the Pan-Asian legal community. The video aims to increase intercultural awareness and competency and is eligible for one hour of CPD credits. Further information about the documentary video, including how to register for access to it, is available on the FACL BC website.

Rule of law essay contest for secondary school students

BC secondary school students in grade 12, or who have taken or are currently enrolled in Law 12, Political Studies 12, Social Justice 12 or Social Studies 11, are invited to submit an essay on how freedom of expression intersects with the rule of law. The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 22, 2022. For further details on the topic and submission guidelines, visit the website.

LTSA digitizes historic records

The Land Title and Survey Authority of BC has reported that the Kamloops and Nelson Land Title District microfilm records have now been digitized and are accessible through all LTSA offices. LTSA has also completed the move of paper-based Kamloops and Nelson Land Title Districts’ historic records to LTSA’s purpose-built facility in Victoria. For more information, see the LTSA’s announcement.

Law Foundation of BC’s 2020 Annual Report available online

Due to a printing error, the print version of the Annual Report contains an error in the Financial Highlights on page 34. The narrative description of the foundation’s expenditures was correct but the bar chart labelled “Expenses” should have reported the Foundation’s total grants and expenditures as $32,856,993 (incorrectly printed as $32,856,990) including total grants approved of $30,282,532 (incorrectly printed as $32,282,529). The digital copy that was distributed electronically did not contain this error. You can find the correct digital copy of the Annual Report online at the Law Foundation of BC's website.

From Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Save the date: Young Lawyers Risk Management Conference on April 27, 2022

We are listening to young lawyers who have been asking for a conference that covers what they need to know about risk management in their early practice years. LIF, with the assistance of CLEBC, is developing a full-day conference that covers what every young lawyer needs to know about malpractice, your indemnity policy, client ID and verification rules, how to manage the most common practice risks, how to watch out for the latest cybercrimes targeting lawyers, and much more. While the conference will be of particular interest to lawyers in their first 5 years of practice, anyone interested in refreshing their understanding of these practice concerns will be welcome. Mark it in your calendar now, and watch for further details.

Be alert! Holiday coverage and fraudsters

Holiday season is an appealing time for fraudsters to try their scams by taking advantage of when law offices have fewer staff working and there are added distractions. If you plan to be away from the office, arrange for a competent lawyer to supervise your practice and provide the lawyer and your staff with your contact information. Staff may not deal with trust funds, except in accordance with the Law Society Rules Part 3, Division 7 - Trust Accounts and Other Client Property. We strongly recommend that you review the tips found here with all staff.

Ensure you and your staff maintain an awareness of the different cyber risks including social engineering fraud, ransomware and data breach, and especially heed the following:

  1. Think before you click! If you unexpectedly receive a link or attachment – even if it is from someone you know – or sense anything unusual, call the sender using the telephone number you have on file (not the number listed in the message) to confirm the message is legitimate – do not verify an email with an email. If you open a link or attachment that you should have avoided, or a box opens that asks for any information, stop. Close out. Immediately call your IT professional, inform your law firm staff, and report the incident to LIF’s cyber insurer for law firms, Coalition, Inc.
  2. Before paying out any funds to your client, verify that new or changed instructions by email are legitimate through direct phone (using the number on your client file) or in-person contact with your client. This is a condition of your new cyber coverage.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of a cybercrime, report the incident immediately. Report, even if you have escaped a loss, as the fraudster is often still lurking in your system waiting for the next opportunity to defraud you.

In case you missed it: Top 5 traps for real estate lawyers and how to avoid them

It’s a hot real estate market and deals continue to move at a furious pace. Real estate lawyers are under a lot of pressure and working at full speed just to keep up. In this heated, often complex environment, real estate lawyers find themselves at higher risk of a claim than ever before. So how do you steer clear of a claim? Take 5 minutes to watch this video of Sherry Kooner, Claims Counsel at LIF, and learn the top 5 reasons lawyers get into trouble and how you can stay claim-free. Resources mentioned in the video are:


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Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.