E-Brief: July 2009

Retention of women in private practice

The Benchers have approved a report from the Retention of Women in the Law Task Force that presents a business case for retaining women lawyers in private practice. The business case explains the economic advantages of encouraging women to remain in private practice. It also provides reference materials and a best practices toolkit, helping firms create customized retention plans. The business case is available in the Committee Reports section of the Law Society website.

Multi-disciplinary partnerships

The Benchers have agreed in principle to consider in the future rule changes that would allow lawyers to form multi-disciplinary partnerships with non-lawyers, subject to rules that would adequately protect the core values of the legal profession in such arrangements. The proposal is modelled on the arrangements permitted by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Lawyers would maintain full control over the practice of law and would supervise and direct the activity of the non-lawyer, who works exclusively with the firm's clients. The Ethics Committee has been tasked with drafting the necessary rule changes and will report back to the Benchers at a later date.

2010 fee recommendations

The Benchers have recommended no increase in the practice fee for 2010. The Benchers also approved a $100 reduction in Special Compensation Fund fee, the fourth reduction in as many years, and a $200 increase in the insurance fee, the first increase since 1993. A detailed explanation of all the fees will be included with the first notice of AGM later this month.

Policy on publication of anonymous discipline decisions

After a discussion about the current anonymous publication policy, which permits the publication of discipline decisions that do not identify the respondent lawyer, and after considering questions of fairness, public confidence, deterrence and independence, the Benchers resolved that the Law Society should be transparent and identify the lawyer being disciplined in all publications of the Society’s discipline decisions, unless such transparency would prejudice the complainant or a third party.

Rule changes

The Benchers approved the following changes to the Law Society Rules: Rule 3-33 was amended to clarify a reference to an exclusion clause of the BC Lawyers’ Compulsory Professional Liability Insurance Policy; Rule 3-56(3.1) was amended to permit electronic transfers of any sum of money from a lawyer's trust account, provided the lawyer takes the prescribed security steps. Previously, electronic transfer was only permitted when required by the Canadian Payments Association, i.e. when more than $25,000,000 was involved.

Board appointments

The Law Society has appointed David Crossin, QC and Tom Christensen to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Society. Their two-year terms begin September 7, 2009.

In other news:
Bencher by-election – call for nominations

A by-election for the County of Prince Rupert will be held on Thursday, September 3, 2009. Nominations for candidates must be received by the Executive Director by Friday, July 24. For more information, see the Notice of by-election or download a Nomination and Consent Form (PDF).

Top internet law expert to speak at Pacific Legal Technology Conference

The Law Society is one of the organizers behind this premier event on October 2, 2009. It's designed to help lawyers integrate the latest information technology into their practice. This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Michael Geist, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. Education tracks include e-Discovery, Litigation and Mediation; Solo and Small Firm; Efficiency and Effectiveness; Applications; Innovative and Strategic Technologies; and Social Media. The conference qualifies for CPD credit. For details and registration, visit pacificlegaltech.com.

Civil and family rules

On July 7, 2009, the provincial government announced new Supreme Court civil and family rules and a revised schedule of fees, which will come into force on July 1, 2010. More information is available at bcjusticereviewforum.ca.

President responds to Vancouver Sun columns

Gordon Turriff, QC has submitted a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun, in response to a column on July 6 (see What's New). Turriff also submitted an op-ed letter to the Sun in response to a story on May 23, "Law Society uses publication ban to dodge questions on sex offender." Click here to download a PDF of the op-ed [editor's note: no longer available].

Job posting: Lawyer, Professional Conduct (three positions)

The Law Society is hiring three Professional Conduct Lawyers, two for full-time positions and a third for a one-year term. All three will be responsible for the effective investigation, assessment and resolution of complaints about lawyers, students and former members.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in E-Brief is accurate. However, the information presented is necessarily a summary. When considering how any amendments or additions to the Legal Profession Act, Law Society Rules and Professional Conduct Handbook might affect their obligations and requirements, readers should refer to the complete text.