The Law Society is considering regulating law firms for more efficient and effective regulation.

Law firm regulation is a proactive approach toward regulation. Regulating law firms as well as individual lawyers would mean that law firms are responsible for having policies and procedures in place that would flag problems before they affect clients or lead to complaints. If firms were regulated, they would bear responsibility for activities that transcend the work of any individual lawyer, including, for example, advertising, accounting or file management.

Law firm regulation pilot project

In addition to the firms of all the Benchers, approximately 10 per cent, or 350 firms in BC, including sole practitioners, were randomly selected to participate in a pilot project. In July 2018, these firms were asked to complete a self-assessment form and were given three months to submit it to the Law Society. The goal is to test the online self-assessment tool, evaluate how the self-assessment process helps firms enhance their practice management systems, and to gather feedback on where firms feel they need additional practice management resources. Following the completion of the pilot project, all feedback will be reviewed and will be crucial to the determinations the Benchers will make about further implementation.

Frequently asked questions about the pilot project

What is the deadline to complete the self-assessment?

Pilot participants are required to complete and submit the Self-Assessment Report to the Law Society no later than October 19, 2018.

Will I receive continuing professional development (CPD) credits for the time spent on completing the self-assessment?

Lawyers involved in completing the self-assessment will be able to claim up to two hours continuing professional development credit for the time they spend on the exercise. Lawyers can find the course in the Law Society’s record credit section titled “Law Firm Regulation – Self Assessment Exercise.” Time spent on this exercise will count towards the annual ethics and practice management requirement. Click here to log in to the member portal to record credit for time spent on the self-assessment exercise.

Will the information collected be used to discipline my firm?

The information and documents collected during the pilot project are confidential and will only be used for statistical and other analysis regarding the practice of law, not for any remedial or disciplinary purposes.

What are the requirements for the self-assessment report under the Law Society Rules?

For further information about the requirements, see Rules 2-12.1 to 2-12.5.

What does element 8 in the self-assessment report require?

Element 8 invites pilot participants to think about what their firms have in place for equity, diversity and inclusion and to indicate what sorts of model policies and processes the Law Society could develop to help them better address equity, diversity and inclusion in their firm's management.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the pilot project or the Self-Assessment Report, please contact Member Services.

Background

“Innovation update: Law firm regulation pilot project,” Benchers' Bulletin spring 2018

Second Interim Report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force: report presented to the Benchers, December 8, 2017

Summary of Recommendations of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force Second Interim Report: Recommendations as amended at the meeting and approved by the Benchers on December 8, 2017

Interim Report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force, October 3, 2016

Law Firm Regulation: Consultation with the Profession: A presentation to members of the profession in town hall meetings across the province in February 2016

Law Firm Regulation Consultation Brief: A consultation paper prepared to accompany a survey of lawyers, October 26, 2015

Law firm regulation timeline

July 2018

Following the conclusion of the law firm registration process, 10 per cent of firms were randomly selected to participate in the pilot project. Firms have three months to complete the Self-Assessment Report.

May 2018

Law firm registration commenced. Firms were required to confirm contact information and identify a designated representative for the firm for the purpose of receiving and responding to communications from the Law Society. 

April 2018

On April 6, 2018, the Benchers adopted new rules and substantive rule amendments to implement the regulation of law firms. See the April 2018 highlights of amendments.

December 2017

At their meeting on December 8, 2017, the Benchers approved the recommendations of the second interim report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force as amended at the meeting, and resolved to initiate them through a pilot project to be rolled out in 2018.

July 2017

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force’s second interim report with recommendations is by the Benchers at their July meeting and it will come back to the Benchers for further discussion and decision.

November 2016

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force presented its interim report to the Benchers at their meeting on November 4, 2016. The report includes 10 recommendations on the regulatory design and proposed next steps.

February 2016

Herman Van Ommen, QC, travelled across the province to conduct consultation sessions in 11 cities.

November 2015

Members were invited to review a summary of the task force’s work to date and take part in an online survey on law firm regulation.

October 2015

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force completed a consultation paper for a survey with lawyers across the province.

July 2014

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force was created and given a mandate to recommend a framework for the regulation of law firms.

May 2012

The legislature passed amendments to the Legal Profession Act to give the Law Society the authority to regulate law firms in addition to individual lawyers.