E-Brief: November 2019

Online voting for Bencher election now open, continues until November 14

Voting is now open for the 2019 Bencher election. Members in good standing are eligible to vote until 5 pm on Thursday, November 14. Voting instructions have been sent to members on the voting lists for Vancouver, Westminster, Cariboo and Prince Rupert Counties. Votes will be counted on November 15, 2019. To see candidates’ biographies and election statements, visit the Law Society website.

2020 annual fee and first instalment of insurance due November 30

Lawyers can access and download their 2020 annual fee billing invoice through the Member Portal. Lawyers who intend to change membership or insurance status for 2020 should complete and submit the applicable status change form as soon as possible in order for a revised invoice to reflect the change. The annual fee covering the period January 1 to December 31, 2020 and the first instalment of insurance covering the period January 1 to June 30, 2020 are due on November 30, 2019. For more information, read the website highlight.

Truth and Reconciliation: Indigenous intercultural competence education for BC lawyers

At the next Bencher meeting on December 6, the Benchers will consider a proposal that would require all full-time and part-time practising lawyers in BC to complete an online course to address core aspects of Indigenous intercultural competence and Call to Action 27 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The online course will be provided to lawyers at no cost and will be relevant to all members of the profession, particularly as the provincial government has introduced Bill 41 – Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. If the proposal is accepted, lawyers will have two years to complete the six-hour course and be able to claim CPD credit for the time taking the course. For more information, visit the Law Society website.

Law firm regulation update: profession-wide implementation of firm self-assessment

The Benchers have approved implementing law firm self-assessment for all firms across the province. Using tools developed by the Law Society, firms will assess their own practice management systems, policies and procedures to help them flag problems and issues before they affect clients or lead to complaints. Implementation will be rolled out in phases, with firms needing to fulfil their self-assessment requirements once every three years. For more information, read the Law Firm Regulation Pilot Project and Recommendations Report.

Second interim report of the Mental Health Task Force

At the December 6 Bencher meeting, the Mental Health Task Force will propose a number of recommendations covering the collection of data relating to mental health and wellness of lawyers, improving awareness and accessibility of resources and support services, and enhancing the ways that the profession communicates about mental health and substance use issues. The second interim report also contains recommendations regarding changes to rule 7.1-3 of the BC Code and the medical fitness questions contained in the Law Society Admissions Program Application Form.

Real estate identity frauds are back

Once again fraudsters are using real estate transactions to commit fraud. In an identity scam, the fraudster finds a property and poses as the owner. The fraudster either secures mortgage financing from a lender or sells the property to an innocent third party. Once the mortgage funds or sale proceeds are received, the rogue disappears. To protect yourself from being caught, comply with the client ID and verification rules, obtain and keep a copy of the buyer’s or borrower’s photo ID, and read our tips.

Law Society recognition awards recipients named

The Benchers have selected the recipients of awards that recognize exceptional contributions to the public interest in four areas of law and practice. Claire E. Hunter, QC has been chosen to receive the Pro Bono Award; Nancy Cameron, QC will receive the Excellence in Family Law Award; Raji Mangat will receive the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award; and the choice for the Leadership in Legal Aid Award is Marilyn Sandford, QC, Christopher Johnson, QC, Peter Leask, QC, H. William Veenstra, QC and Richard Fowler, QC, on behalf of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers. The awards will be presented at the Law Society annual recognition dinner on December 6.

2019 Law Society Indigenous Scholarship recipient

Shawnee Monchalin has been awarded the Law Society Indigenous Scholarship. Monchalin was on hand at the October Bencher meeting for a formal presentation of the scholarship. For details on Shawnee Monchalin and her accomplishments, visit the 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 Monday, December 9 at the Law Society and qualifies for CPD requirements. Please complete and sign the registration form here and send it to the Trust Assurance department at trustaccounting@lsbc.org to sign up. For course details, see the Law Society website.

Amendments to Law Society Rules

The Benchers approved amendments to the Law Society Rules: the procedure for ordering the investigation of books and accounts has been streamlined, and the time for a lawyer to request that certain information be excluded from an investigation has been changed from 7 to 21 days; and the President or designate may extend the time for a party to initiate a review of a tribunal decision. Click here for highlights of amendments.

Law Foundation and Legal Services Society appointments

The Law Society is seeking expressions of interest for appointments as the Law Society’s nominee to the Law Foundation of British Columbia’s board of governors and to the Legal Services Society’s board of directors. For more information about the appointments process and requirements for each board position, see our website. Applicants may submit an application online.

From the courts

The Provincial Court has issued a new Notice to the Profession and Public regarding hearing location of domestic violence files within the catchment of Downtown Community Court. For more information, visit the court’s website.

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