E-Brief: June 2024

News you need

Law Society initiates litigation to challenge Legal Professions Act

The Law Society of British Columbia has initiated litigation to challenge the constitutionality of Bill 21 – the Legal Professions Act, which received Royal Assent on May 16, 2024. The Act, which creates a single regulator for lawyers, notaries and paralegals, fails to ensure the independence of the legal professions and their regulator – a fundamental democratic principle. Under the current Legal Profession Act, which remains in effect until the amalgamation date, the Law Society’s statutory mandate is to protect the public interest in the administration of justice by preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons. Unnecessary government direction and intrusion on the legal profession threatens those rights and freedoms. For more information, read the full background, timeline and previous statements.

Celebrating National Indigenous History Month

 In celebration of National Indigenous History Month this June, we encourage the legal profession to explore the unique cultures, traditions and histories of Indigenous People in Canada. The Law Society honours the stories and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and is excited to highlight interesting facts about Indigenous history, resources and notable Indigenous people in the legal profession throughout the month. Visit our website to learn more.

Consultation on proposed Code amendments to advance Truth and Reconciliation

 The Law Society invites you to join our online consultation event on Wednesday, June 26 from 12 to 1:30 pm to provide feedback on the proposed Code amendments put forth by the Federation’s Model Code Standing Committee in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 27. Call to Action 27 references mandatory cultural competency training for all lawyers, which the Law Society implemented in 2022. The proposed changes to the Code aim to establish a baseline level of knowledge and communication skills for all legal professionals. For details and registration, visit our website and the Eventbrite page. Another session will be held in September; comments and suggestions can be sent to consultation@lsbc.org.

New LawCast BC episode: AI and the practice of law

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as Chat GPT continue to make headlines. Numerous industries, including the legal one, are already feeling the impacts and implications of AI, as well as exploring its potential. In the latest episode of LawCast BC, law professors Jon Festinger, KC and Robert Diab chat about the innovative ways AI has been used to help practise law, the risks it poses and how it could potentially change and improve the ways in which people access legal services. This fall, Jon and Robert will be teaching a new course for law students on AI, Law and Justice at Thompson Rivers University. Listen here, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. We also encourage lawyers to read the Law Society's Guidance on Professional Responsibility and Generative AI to help them consider the use of AI tools in their legal practice.

Second instalment of practice fee due June 30, late fee now applies

A reminder to practising lawyers who did not pay the second instalment of their 2024 practice fee by the original May 31 deadline that a late payment fee has been added. The final deadline is June 30, and lawyers who do not pay both fees (and any other outstanding fees) by this deadline will be suspended. Invoices can be accessed in the Member Portal under Invoices & Receipts. Lawyers who wish to change their indemnity coverage, or change or terminate their membership status, must submit an application and payment for the invoiced amount through the Member Portal before the deadline to avoid suspension. A refund of the difference paid will be issued once the application has been approved. Visit the Annual Fees page for more information.

Benchers approve articling placement pilot program

As the legal regulator for the province, the Law Society receives formal and informal reports of discrimination and harassment issues in the profession. We also know that discrimination and harassment issues often go unreported. This can be particularly true when it comes to articled students because of the potential loss of the articling position and future call to the bar.

Given that currently the only pathway to become licensed in BC involves the successful completion of articles, the Law Society has the responsibility to address any problems that arise within the licensing process. As a result, we will be developing a pilot program to support articled students with exiting their current position due to discrimination and harassment and continuing their articles with a new firm or organization. We will inform the profession as more updates become available on this initiative.

Western Canada Competency Profile for entry to legal practice

Over the last year and a half, the Law Society of BC has worked with the law societies of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan to develop the Western Canada Competency Profile (WCCP). The WCCP serves as a foundational document that will inform lawyer training and education, including bar admission program development and experiential learning opportunities in the coming years. The WCCP will take time to fully implement, including determining where and how these competencies will be acquired and the appropriate methods of assessment. No action is required from articling students or principals at this time. To learn more, read the news highlight, and download and read the Western Canada Competency Profile and the FAQs. If you have questions, contact professionaldevelopment@lsbc.org.

Help improve the articling experience

As part of the WCCP project, articling students, new lawyers and those involved in supervision, mentoring and recruitment are encouraged to participate in two surveys. The findings will facilitate cross-provincial comparisons, offer valuable insights into how we can collectively enhance the articling experience in our jurisdictions and better prepare articling students for the practice of law in the future. The surveys take approximately 15–20 minutes to complete and responses are anonymous and confidential. They will remain open until Thursday, June 20.

Complete the relevant survey via the links below:

Code amendment regarding single-party communications with a tribunal

The Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia’s rule on single-party communications with a tribunal was amended to clarify the rule does not apply in the mediation context. The amendment to rule 5.1-2.3, commentary [3] reflects recent amendments to the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Professional Conduct to address a possible yet unintended interpretation of the rule. Questions? Contact Practice Advice at practiceadvice@lsbc.org or 604.443.5797, or book an appointment.

Rule amendments regarding Supreme Court masters and family law mediators

The Law Society Rules have been updated to reflect new terminology for Supreme Court masters, now known as associate judges (Rules 2-87(1) and (4) to (7), 3-36(1) and 3-37(1)). Additionally, members of administrative tribunals may qualify to act as family law mediators or parenting coordinators (Rules 3-36(1) and 3-37(1)).

New judicial appointments in BC

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced seven judicial appointments on May 27, including former Law Society President Lisa Hamilton, KC. For details, read the government’s announcement.

King’s Counsel nomination period extended until August

The nomination period for the King’s Counsel (KC) designation, originally scheduled for May 20 to July 15, has been extended and will now be open from August 12 to October 7 to accommodate the upcoming provincial election. Nominations must be submitted by 4:30 pm on October 7. Visit the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website to learn more about the nomination process.

Public Guardian and Trustee of BC launches new digital services

The Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia’s redesigned website includes a convenient and secure digital legal submission service for requesting public guardian and trustee consent or comments when required by legislation. Learn more about the new legal submission service. Feedback and questions can be sent to mail@trustee.bc.ca.

Latest discipline news

Looking for the latest in discipline outcomes, including conduct review summaries and admitted discipline violations? Head to our Discipline Outcomes section to stay updated on the latest information. Tribunal information, including hearing dates and outcomes, can be found on the LSBC Tribunal website.

Practice support and resources

New video: Preventing money laundering in your legal practice

Lawyers may be at risk of being targeted by money launderers due to their roles in forming corporations and trusts, in dealing with real estate transactions, and in operating trust accounts. These areas of legal services are used every day for legitimate transactions, which is why lawyers must be vigilant to ensure that they are not used by sophisticated criminals looking to filter funds through transactions that make it appear as though the funds came from legitimate activities.

In part one of our new two-part video series, learn how lawyers are at risk and how to protect yourself and your practice.

Updated version of Inclusive Language Practice Resource now available

The Law Society’s Inclusive Language Practice Resource has been updated after receiving valuable feedback and ideas from the profession. First published in March 2023, the resource is intended to support legal professionals in their use of inclusive language and was developed in consultation and collaboration with legal professionals and stakeholders working in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to keeping the resource updated and will revisit it on at least an annual basis. Feedback can be sent to equity@lsbc.org.

Guidance for virtual verification of your client’s identity

Lawyers may now verify an individual client’s identity virtually, provided they use reliable technology to confirm that the individual’s government-issued photo ID is genuine, and confirm that the name and photo are those of the individual on the ID. A video conference with the individual by itself is not sufficient to satisfy a lawyer’s obligations. See the changes to Rules 3-102 and 3-104 and our practice resources on virtual ID verification and video-conferencing technology. For more information, see the Client ID & verification webpage. Contact practiceadvice@lsbc.org, phone 604.443.5797 or use the ADMA to book an appointment if you have questions.

Bank holds on drafts, trust and certified cheques

Banks sometimes place holds on drafts, trust cheques and certified cheques. Consider periodically reviewing your financial institution’s hold policy in your account agreement. Establish a relationship with your account manager and ask what factors the institution takes into account when placing a hold on an instrument. See our practice resource to help reduce the risk of a hold that may interfere with your obligations or procedures.


Employment Insurance Board of Appeal seeks new members

Employment and Social Development Canada is looking for qualified Canadians to join the Employment Insurance Board of Appeal as board members, regional coordinators or executive heads. Three-member panels of government, worker and employer representatives will hear first-level Employment Insurance appeals from their region. Interested parties can visit the Government of Canada’s website to apply for a Governor in Council appointee position.

CanDACC seeks adjudicators to assist with construction-related disputes

Canada Dispute Adjudication for Construction Contracts (CanDACC) is looking for a diverse group of professionals to become certified adjudicators. Lawyers who have at least 10 years of construction-related experience and have an interest in adjudication may apply. Every applicant must complete the Construction Adjudication and CanDACC Orientation Program. For more information, visit the program website or contact authority@candacc.ca.

Latest from Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Reminder: Electronic filing exemptions will be removed on October 2

The Director of Land Titles has advised it is removing electronic filing exemptions for certain government applicants effective October 2, 2024. Find more information on the BC Land Title and Survey Authority website.

Let's talk mental health ... because sometimes we can't fix it on our own

Anxiety, depression and substance use disorders are common in the legal profession. We know that many lawyers struggle to juggle life and law, given the demanding and adversarial nature of our work. But you are not alone. If you or someone you know needs support, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

In the above video, LIF’s Chief Operating Officer, Su Forbes, KC tells the story of two lawyers who suffered from mental health issues and shares her own personal journey. We encourage you to watch the video to learn not only what you can do to prioritize your own health and mental well-being, but how to be a better colleague too.