E-Brief: July 2019

New trust account and cash rule changes

The Benchers have made changes to the trust account and cash transaction rules to reduce the risk that lawyers facilitate money laundering. Monies paid into or out of a trust account must be directly related to legal services provided by the lawyer or law firm. The no cash rule is amended to provide that a lawyer or a law firm must not accept an aggregate amount of cash in respect of any one client matter greater than $7,500, making the rule consistent with the updated Federation of Law Societies model rule. Further details on these rule changes, including a Notice to the Profession, are available on the Law Society website.

Client identification and verification rule changes to take effect January 1, 2020

As part of the Law Society’s ongoing commitment to address risks associated with money laundering, the Benchers have approved changes to the client identification and verification rules to take effect on January 1, 2020. Based on the Federation’s model rule, the changes introduce more stringent requirements to verify a client’s identity, provide more options for how to confirm a client’s identity, and require lawyers in financial transactions to obtain additional information about a client’s source of funds, as well as periodic monitoring and recording professional business relationships with clients. More information and educational resources will be made available between now and the end of the year.

Potential changes coming to fiduciary property rules

The Law Society’s consultation with the profession on proposed rule changes to Rule 3-55(6) that would prohibit fiduciary property from being deposited into a trust account when no legal services are provided has concluded. Feedback received about potential impacts that may interfere with any fiduciary role undertaken by a lawyer will help inform the Benchers, who are expected to consider the fiduciary property rules in light of Rule 3-58.1 later this year.

Law Society advocates for legal aid resources in provincial budget consultation

Every year, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services holds a public consultation on the next provincial budget. Consultation for the 2020 provincial budget took place in June. Elizabeth Rowbotham, Bencher from Vancouver County, made submissions on the Law Society’s initiatives and key priorities, with particular focus on improving the availability of legal aid and ensuring adequate resources for attracting and retaining lawyers who take legal aid cases. A Hansard transcript of the consultation submission is available here.

Rule of Law Lecture presentations

On June 25, 2019, the Law Society held the third Annual Rule of Law Lecture, which featured the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin and Richard Peck, QC, speaking on privacy, technology and the rule of law. The lecture was attended by over 225 in person, and 30 more who participated by webcast. For those who were unable to attend the lecture, a video recording of the lecture, as well as written copies of the presentations are available on the Law Society’s website.

Winners of the 2019 Rule of Law Essay Contest

The Law Society congratulates essay contest winners Vivian Osiek, a recent graduate from Windsor Secondary School in North Vancouver, and Bret J. Van Den Brink, a recent graduate from Unity Christian School in Chilliwack, for their exceptional essays on the rule of law. Osiek and Van Den Brink were introduced to the Benchers at their July 12 meeting, and President Nancy Merrill, QC, presented them with their respective awards. Their full essays can be read on our website.

Trust Accounting course available for CPD

The Trust Assurance Department will be offering a free one-day course for lawyers and law firm staff members to both educate and refresh participants on the Law Society’s trust accounting requirements and the amended trust account rules. The course will be held on August 13th at the Law Society and qualifies for CPD requirements. Please contact the Trust Assurance Department at 604.697.5810 or trustaccounting@lsbc.org if you or your staff member(s) wish to attend. The course will also be listed on the Law Society website.

Call for QC nominations

Nominations for Queen's Counsel appointments are being accepted until Friday, July 19 at 4:30 pm. For more information on eligibility requirements, nomination process and applications, visit the Ministry of Justice website.

Articling offers by downtown Vancouver firms to stay open to August 16

All offers of articling positions made by law firms with offices in the city of Vancouver north of False Creek and west of Carrall Street must remain open until 8 am on Friday, August 16, 2019. The deadline, set by the Credentials Committee under Rule 2-58, applies to offers made to first and second-year law students, but does not apply to offers made to third-year law students or offers of summer positions (temporary articles). For more information, read the highlight on the 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 $120,000 annually to support projects that advance the knowledge of law, social policy, and the administration of justice. For details on the application process, visit the Law Foundation website.