E-Brief: July 2020

Targeted fee relief for 2021 annual practice fees

At their July 10 meeting, the Benchers approved allocating up to $3 million from the Law Society’s reserves to fund fee relief for those law firms (including sole practitioners) who are expected to be most in need of assistance with meeting their 2021 annual practice fees. In order to determine how best to allocate these funds, the Law Society will be providing a form that will be available on the Member Portal to designated representatives of law firms that wish to be considered for 2021 fee relief. Information gathered through this form will provide the Benchers with the basis for determining which law firms have lawyers who should receive some fee relief and how much. Law firms will be notified by email when the form is available.

Reminder: Second instalment of indemnity fees due August 31, 2020

Earlier this year, the Benchers recognized that many law firms are facing financial challenges due to the economic impact of the pandemic. As a measure to assist lawyers and law firms with immediate relief, the deadline for payment of the second instalment of indemnity fees was extended to August 31, 2020. Second instalment invoices will not be mailed and they can be accessed from the Member Portal later this month.

Free, remote CPD: anti-money laundering measures webinar

The Law Society has produced a free two-hour webinar to help lawyers to comply with anti-money laundering rules. Watch Practice Advisor Barbara Buchanan, QC and Audit Team Leader Tina Kaminski discuss best practices and take you through information regarding money laundering, cash, client identification and verification, red flags and risk management. The program is eligible for two hours of CPD credit. View the program here.

Shifting demographics of the legal profession in BC

The Law Society has published a summary of the demographics of the legal profession in BC, based on data collected from the Annual Practice Declaration for the past six years. This data will help enable the Law Society to learn more about the demographic composition of the legal profession and consider ways to advance our commitment for the legal profession to reflect the diversity of our province.

Articling students’ offer date to be moved to fall 2020

In light of the current circumstances surrounding the existence of COVID-19, the “offer date” (the date until which offers made by firms to prospective articled students must remain open) has been moved from the previously set Friday, August 14, 2020 to Friday, October 23, 2020.  The Benchers amended the Law Society Rules to ensure third year students would continue to benefit from the rule on the offer date. The rule applies to all lawyers practising in a firm that maintains an office in the city of Vancouver north of False Creek and west of Carrall Street. See the highlight of amendments to the rules here.

The Law Society Award – Call for nominations

Nominations for the 2020 Law Society Award are open until August 14, 2020. To nominate a candidate who has made exceptional contributions to the legal profession and the public interest, or for more information, click here.

Lawyers Indemnity Fund video on additional property transfer tax for foreign nationals, foreign entities and taxable trustees

Once a month, the Lawyers Indemnity Fund will be releasing a short video that offers guidance and tips on how to avoid issues that can lead to claims. The first of these videos is about lawyers who forget that a foreign national, foreign corporation or taxable trustee is required to pay additional property transfer tax on certain real estate transactions. Watch this video of Marlon Song, Claims Counsel at LIF, to learn more. You can also familiarize yourself with the features of the tax by reading the Ministry of Finance’s web page.

New web filing property transfer tax return

The new web filing property transfer tax return is now available and can be used to file property transfer tax. The PDF forms are still available but will be phased out by fall 2020. Learn more about web filing on the Land Title Survey Authority’s website or visit the government’s Information for Legal Professionals on Filing Property Transfer Tax webpage.

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 ($20,000 maximum for each project) 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.