E-Brief: July 2021

Reopening of Law Society offices

On July 19, 2021, the doors of the Law Society building will again be open to the public and lawyers. Visitors to the Law Society will be asked to report to the 8th floor reception. As part of the Law Society’s communicable disease prevention plan, everyone will be required to self-assess for symptoms before entering the premises. Until further notice, everyone – including staff – will be required to wear a mask in the elevators and common areas inside the building. For details, see the website highlight.

Review of regulatory process to address needs of vulnerable witnesses and complainants

A recent discipline matter highlighted some of the deficiencies in the Law Society’s current system and the limitations of the conventional adversarial process for the participation of vulnerable people in our regulatory process. In an effort to address these issues, the governing board of Benchers approved the creation of an Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters Task Force, with a proposed mandate to examine our regulatory processes and make recommendations in accordance with terms of reference that are still to be determined. The task force will consult the Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee as part of the process of finalizing terms of reference to be approved by the board.

In-person call ceremonies and fall PLTC program

By the end of 2021, there will be approximately 1,700 to 1,900 candidates whose ceremonies have been or will be put on hold as a result of the COVID pandemic-related restriction on public gatherings in BC. As part of the plan to resume call ceremonies, the governing board of Benchers accepted the recommendation to provide articled students and transfers from other jurisdictions the option of whether to be called at an in person ceremony, and to extend the time for an articled student or transferred lawyer to be presented in open court to the end of 2022. The matter has now been referred to the Act and Rules Committee to draft the rule amendments to be approved by the Benchers at a later date. In addition, the fall session of the PLTC program will continue to be delivered virtually to minimize disruption.

Changes to the Law Society Rules

The Benchers have approved the following amendments to the Law Society Rules: retainers received by lawyers providing mediation, arbitration and parenting co-ordination services may be deposited to their lawyer trust accounts; and trust funds may be withdrawn by way of bank draft, provided that certain prescribed conditions are met. See highlights of amendments here.

Bencher by-election in County of Vancouver: Voting open until 5 pm on July 15, 2021

Online voting will stay open until at 5 pm on Thursday, July 15, 2021, and votes will be counted on Friday, July 16, 2021. Voting instructions and voter credentials were sent to eligible voters in the County of Vancouver on July 2, 2021. Candidate biographies and election statements can be viewed here. For details of the Vancouver by-election, view the Notice to the Profession and Call for Nominations dated May 17, 2021.

Reminder: National survey on health and well-being of legal professionals

There is still time to take part in a nation-wide study on the mental health and well-being of legal professionals. Click here to take part in the survey now. Responses to the survey are anonymous. You may take a break at any time by closing the page and continue later from where you left off by visiting the same link. The survey will close on July 30, 2021. For more information about the initiative, visit our website.

Save the date: 2021 Mental Health Forum on Tuesday, September 14

The Law Society and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC are hosting a Mental Health Forum on Tuesday, September 14 from 9 am to 12 pm, to bring together the legal community to share practical strategies as to how practitioners, firms and other legal employers can actively work toward improving mental health within the profession. This three-hour event will include a collaborative discussion about the steps legal employers can take to address these issues, with input from firms and employers of various sizes and experts that provide wellness support and resources to lawyers. Registration is open here and more details will be made available soon.

Rule of Law Matters season finale episode

In this new episode, our host Jon Festinger, QC and Michael Lucas, QC, policy director at the Law Society, take a look back at the first season of Rule of Law Matters and the events that have transpired since the podcast launched in September. To listen to the Rule of Law Matters podcast, visit the Law Society’s website, or subscribe and find past episodes on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.

From Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Changes to Securities Act affecting priority over mortgages and other collection powers

Amendments to the Securities Act have significantly expanded the BC Securities Commission’s investigative, enforcement and collection powers. For example, the Commission now has priority over mortgages in certain circumstances. See s.163.1 of the Securities Act for more information about the Commission’s priority.

Social Engineering Frauds – a leading cause of cyber claims that you can prevent

If you are about to pay out trust funds, and you receive new or changed payment instructions electronically from your client, assume that a hacker is impersonating your client behind the scenes. Stop, and ensure that the new or changed instructions are legitimate by making in-person or phone contact with your client using the phone number on your client file and follow the tips found here. Not only will this help you to avoid a theft of trust funds, it is also a condition of your firm’s new cyber coverage.

LIF has now included cyber coverage for qualifying law firms operating in BC in the Indemnification Program through underwriter, Coalition, Inc. Coverage is claims-made and applies to third party liability claims, first party losses and cybercrime claims, including the most common cyber risks – ransomware, social engineering fraud and data breaches. If you do not do your due diligence to authenticate payment instructions received electronically, you may not have coverage if there is a theft.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of a cybercrime, immediately follow the reporting instructions on the LIF website. Further information, including links to pre-recorded webinars, details on coverage, risk management and FAQs, is available here. If you have questions about the new coverage, please email Shelley Braun at sbraun@lif.ca.

Vacation alert and precautions

Cybercriminals target lawyers on vacation as changes in the usual procedures give them an opportunity to deceive your clients and staff. So be on high alert for scams during vacation. Arrange for a competent lawyer to supervise your practice and provide your contact information to the lawyer and your staff. Your staff are not in a position to deal with trust funds, except in accordance with the BC Code and Law Society Rules, and should not be left without proper supervision (see BC Code, Chapter 6 and Law Society Rules 3-64 to 3-66).


To keep up to date with Law Society news and events, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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