E-Brief: May 2024

News you need

Benchers urge government to halt Bill 21, consult stakeholders

The Law Society of BC has sent a letter to Attorney General Niki Sharma, KC strongly urging the government to reconsider proceeding with the passage of Bill 21 – the Legal Professions Act in order to take the time to consult more widely with the public, the legal professions and the Indigenous peoples of BC.

The Law Society has a statutory mandate to protect the public interest in the administration of justice by preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons. Bill 21 fails to protect the public’s interest in having access to independent legal professions governed by an independent regulator that is not constrained by overreaching government direction and intrusion.
 We call on the government to exercise the leadership necessary to ensure the future foundations of legal regulation in this province are in the best interest of the public and the legal profession.

Read the full statement as well as background and key updates.

New competency profile for entry to practice

The Benchers have unanimously approved a new competency profile that has been developed in collaboration with the law societies of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Western Canada Competency Profile (WCCP) covers seven competencies in areas ranging from ethics and professional responsibilities to communication and Truth and Reconciliation that encompass the competencies that are relevant to entry to practice today. More information will become available as the Law Society moves toward implementing the competency profile.

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 upcoming surveys. The information gathered will help the western law societies make informed decisions around programs and resources, especially as they relate to articling, lawyer competence and equity, diversity and inclusion. 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 survey is set to launch on Thursday, May 9, 2024. Stay tuned for more information.

Second instalment of annual fee due May 31, 2024

Practising lawyers can find information about their fees online in the “Fee Billing: Second Instalment invoice” in the Member Portal. Ensure your payment amount matches the invoice and note that Rule 2-117 applies to outstanding payments. If you need to change your indemnity coverage or category to non-practising or retired, or you wish to voluntarily resign, submit the appropriate application through the Member Portal no later than May 17, 2024 to avoid the late payment fee due to processing time. Visit the Annual Fee webpage for more information.

Applications for non-practising lawyers, retired lawyers and lawyers who wish to voluntarily resign now available online 

Lawyers who wish to change their category to non-practising or retired, or to submit their resignation, may now apply online directly through their Member Portal. More information can be found on our new category change webpage.

2023 financial statements approved

Benchers have approved the 2023 financial statements for the General Fund and the Lawyers Indemnity Fund.

Access free resources this Mental Health Week

This Mental Health Week, happening from May 6-10, 2024, we join the Canadian Mental Health Association to explore how compassion connects us all for this year's A Call to Be Kind campaign. We encourage you to be kind to yourself and others by prioritizing mental health and learning about free resources available to lawyers and your families via our Lawyer Well-Being Hub.

LawCast BC: Addressing harassment, discrimination and bullying in the legal profession

In the latest episode of LawCast BC, Sarah Sharp, Equity Advisor at the Law Society, speaks about her role in supporting those who have experienced or witnessed harassment, discrimination and bullying in the legal profession. She addresses challenges faced by those who experience or witness this harmful behaviour, including retaliation, and outlines the supports and resources available. She also speaks to recent expansions to sections of the BC Code on discrimination and harassment. Lawyers, articled students, law students and support staff of legal employers who have a concern or a question are encouraged to contact the Equity Advisor at equity@lsbc.org or 604.605.5303. Listen here, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Maintaining court safety for all users

Earlier this year, the Law Society of BC, Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch and others shared concerns with the Attorney General regarding the safety of court participants. The Attorney General has since pledged to recruit and retain more sheriffs, to work with police to make sure appropriate security is in place, to work with the judiciary to ensure the right balance is struck between security measures and an open, accessible courthouse, and to ensure all lawyers understand the safety protocols available to them. If you receive any threats of violence or experience inappropriate conduct while attending court or on courthouse property, share your concerns with the nearest sheriff as soon as possible. If you receive threats of violence outside of the courthouse, report the incident to local police. For more information, see the BC Sheriff Service’s court safety brochure.

KC nomination and appointment process opening soon

Nominations for the King’s Counsel (KC) designation will take place from August 12 to October 7. The submission period has been extended this year to provide more opportunity to submit a nomination. The KC designation recognizes BC lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional merit and made contributions to the legal profession and their legal practice, as well as professional integrity and good character. Candidates must also have been a member of the BC bar for a minimum of five years. Learn more about the nomination process.

Have you been asked to witness nonsense documents? 

The Law Society recommends that lawyers refuse to notarize or witness pseudo-legal or nonsense documents proposed to be filed for court processes or in the land title registry. A lawyer’s signature and seal should not be used to lend credibility to such documents. General tips about witnessing a signature can be found on LIF's website. If you have questions, contact practiceadvice@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 the practice resources "Guidance for virtual verification of your client’s identity” and “Using video-conferencing technology: guidance and professional obligations." For more information, see the Client ID & verification resources webpage, including FAQs and the Advice Decision-Making Assistant (ADMA). Contact practiceadvice@lsbc.org, phone 604.443.5797 or use the ADMA to book an appointment if you have questions.

The Advice Decision-Making Assistant’s two-year anniversary

April 4, 2024 marked the two-year anniversary of the Advice Decision-Making Assistant (ADMA). ADMA is a free online solution-explorer tool designed and developed in-house at the Law Society. It provides guidance for questions of professional responsibility through helpful links, resources and an online booking system to schedule a call with a practice advisor. Since its launch, ADMA has received nearly 7,800 site visits and booked 700 appointments, including a 116 per cent increase in the number of appointments from its first to its second year. Significant additions to ADMA’s content include new resource pages on client identification and verification, mental health support and tackling the challenges of practice. For more information about ADMA’s successes, check out the Two-Year Retrospective on the Advice Decision-Making Assistant on page 121 of the Bencher meeting agenda.

Law Society website upgraded for simplified user experience

The Law Society website has been updated to improve the user experience, to make information easier to find and to meet our growing technology, accessibility, security and design needs. Learn more about the changes.

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.


British Columbia Law Institute seeks new board members

The Law Society is seeking expressions of interest for appointment to the British Columbia Law Institute Board of Directors. Further information on the position and the BC Law Institute can be found on the current openings webpage. For more information about the appointments process and requirements for each board position, see the appointments guidebook. Interested applicants are invited to submit their application online by 5 pm on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

Federal Court seeks applications for associate judges

The Federal Court hopes to expand the pool of candidates to be considered for federal judicial officer positions in Vancouver. These positions carry similar functions and powers of Federal Court judges including mediation, case management, practice motions and trials of actions. Interested applicants have until May 31, 2024 to apply. Visit the Government of Canada's website for more information on the positions and how to apply.

Research participants needed: Intersection between religious identity and legal practice

Lawyers, law professors or law students (working, retired or emeritus) are invited to participate in a research project on the intersection of their religious identity and their legal practice. The project supports research for a UVic PhD candidate’s dissertation and will be conducted until June via single interviews. Each interview can be conducted either in person or remotely and will take about two hours to complete. The goal is to interview a diverse range of legal professionals who carry any faith/religious identity. Anyone interested in participating can email paigethombs@uvic.ca.


Deepen your understanding of AI, advocacy and the future of law

Registration is open for the Northern Law Talks conference brought to you by the CBABC. The conference will be happening May 24 in Prince George and will facilitate deep discussion amongst like-minded advocates regarding the future of law.

Topics will include:

  • How technology and AI are shaping the future of law
  • Strategies to future-proof your practice (recruitment, hiring, retention and succession planning)
  • Contemplated changes to the Federation’s Model Code

Attendees will be eligible for CPD credits. Visit the CBABC’s website for more information and to register.

Film screening: Asian Heritage Month

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) BC is holding a screening of their documentary “But I Look Like a Lawyer” at the Law Society on May 22, 2024 at 5:30 pm. Visit FACL's website to register for the event.

Latest from Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Spoofed websites and phishing emails

Has your website been spoofed? Is someone sending emails purporting to be from your firm? If this happens to you, immediately report the situation to Coalition. Coverage for technical, legal, and public relations assistance may be available under the “Phishing” insuring agreement of your cyber insurance policy with Coalition.

Coalition’s experts will assist you in taking down the fraudulent website and minimizing the potential consequences of unintended disclosure of information. They will also work with you to ensure your own network security has not been breached and assist you with communication to clients about the event.

If your firm has excess cyber insurance or is not enrolled in Coalition’s policy, ask your broker about coverage for website spoofing. To view a summary of Coalition’s policy coverage, your Designated Representative can download a current Certificate of Insurance from your firm’s DBA Profile in the Member Portal.

2023: A year of excellent service amid high claim volumes

Take three minutes to watch the below video of LIF’s Chief Operating Officer, Su Forbes, KC, as she shares the program changes and highlights in 2023.

Review our digital annual report or download our comprehensive Program Report.