Lawyer independence and self-regulation is an important part of upholding rule of law.

Members of the public have a fundamental right to obtain legal advice from a lawyer whose duty is to the client, not to any other person and not to the government.

The public also has a right to disclose confidential information to the lawyer and know that it cannot be shared with anyone else, including the government or the police, without the client's consent. This fundamental right is called client-solicitor privilege.

Below are some commonly asked questions and answers about lawyer independence and self-regulation of lawyers.

Lawyer independence guarantees that a client can be confident that his or her lawyer provides legal assistance without fear of interference or sanction by the government or other interests. The independence of lawyers and the courts is often considered to be one of the cornerstones of democracy.

Lawyers in BC are regulated by the Law Society of British Columbia. The duty of the Law Society is to act to protect the public interest, not the interests of the lawyers it regulates.

The Law Society is independent of the government. It is not a government authority and is not part of the public sector. It is not subject to instructions from government, nor does it receive any public funding.

Self-regulation is a part of upholding lawyer independence. A lawyer’s role is to provide advice on behalf of a client, sometimes in disputes involving the government or government institutions. It would pose a conflict of interest if the organization that regulated lawyers was directly or indirectly controlled by the government.

Members of the public who retain the services of a lawyer have a right to client-solicitor privilege. The government or the police cannot compel their lawyer to disclose privileged information.

A hearing panel makes decisions on those applying to become lawyers or those who are alleged to have engaged in professional misconduct. Discipline hearings are open to the public and are similar to court hearings.

Hearing panels consist of a current lawyer Bencher as chair, another lawyer who is not a Bencher and an appointed member of the public. Learn more about the hearings process