E-Brief: July 2017

E-Brief: July 2017

Minister of Public Safety responds to Law Society’s concerns on searches of lawyers’ electronic devices at the border

In response to the Law Society’s May 5, 2017 letter raising concerns about the searches of lawyers’ electronic devices by Canada Border Services Agency officers, the Minister of Public Safety has advised that officers are instructed not to examine documents if they suspect they may be subject to privilege, if they are specifically marked with the assertion that they are privileged, or if privilege is claimed by a lawyer with respect to the documents. Read the Minister’s full letter here and the Law Society’s response to his letter here.

Lawyers are reminded to claim privilege where appropriate and not disclose privileged information or their password to electronic devices containing privileged information without client consent or a court order. See also “Client Confidentiality—Think twice before taking your laptop or smart phone across borders” in the 2017 Spring Benchers’ Bulletin.

Support services for lawyers affected by wildfires in BC

The Law Society provides free confidential personal counselling and referral services for BC lawyers, articled students and their immediate families through LifeWorks Canada Ltd. LifeWorks professionals are available 24/7 toll-free at 1.888.307.0590 or TTY 1.877.371.9978. Log in to their website for information about steps to take after a fire, getting organized, taking care of yourself, helping children and teens cope and other helpful information. Remember to contact your property insurers immediately if you have a potential claim. Contact a Law Society Practice Advisor at 604.669.2533 if you have any questions regarding your professional responsibilities with respect to security of records (Rule 10-4) or your practice.

Update on law firm regulation

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force has completed its second interim report with recommendations. The report was discussed by the Benchers at their July meeting and will come back to the Benchers for further discussion and decision at their September meeting.

Benchers adopt Legal Aid Advisory Committee mandate and terms of reference

The Benchers adopted a mandate and terms of reference for the Legal Aid Advisory Committee. The committee monitors and advises the Benchers on key matters relating to the state of legal aid in British Columbia and advances the Law Society’s Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid that the Benchers adopted in March 2017.

Law Society Scholarship awarded to Naomi Minwalla

President Herman Van Ommen, QC presented Naomi Minwalla with the Law Society Scholarship at the July 7 Bencher meeting. For details on her background and her thesis, see the news release.

Reminder: Nominations open for three Law Society awards

The Law Society is inviting nominations and applications for three new awards recognizing excellence in the legal profession: the Law Society Excellence in Family Law Award, the Law Society Award for Leadership in Legal Aid and the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Award. For nomination and application guidelines and more information on each award, see our website.

Discipline advisory: Maintaining privilege and confidentiality when ending the solicitor-client relationship

The Law Society has seen a number of complaints in recent years where lawyers have breached client confidentiality when trying to withdraw as counsel of record in a matter. A discipline advisory with advice on ending a retainer with a client is available on our website.

Law Foundation seeks applications for Legal Research Fund

The Law Foundation is seeking letters of intent from those looking for funding for legal research. The Legal Research Fund awards up to $100,000 annually to support projects that "advance the knowledge of law, social policy, and the administration of justice." For details, visit the Law Foundation website.

From the courts

On September 5, 2017, the Judicial Council of BC will adopt an online application process for all Provincial Court appointments, including Judge, Judicial Justice and Justice of the Peace. Paper applications will not be accepted after this date. Candidates for any of these appointments may submit a paper application before Labour Day, or wait until September 5 to begin the process online. All online application forms will be available on the Provincial Court’s website starting September 5. See the court’s website and eNews for more information.

The Provincial Court has issued a Criminal Practice Direction on scheduling conflicts between the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court, effective June 28, 2017. See the court’s website for details.