E-Brief: March 2010

New Bencher for Okanagan district

Tom Fellhauer has been elected to serve as a Bencher for Okanagan district, a position left vacant in December, following the appointment of Meg Shaw, QC as Supreme Court Master. For more information, see What's New on the Law Society's website.

Rule amendment protects public

Benchers approved amendments to the Rules that will allow the Law Society to suspend or impose conditions on a lawyer before the issuance of a citation if three or more Benchers sitting in a proceeding are satisfied extraordinary action is necessary to protect the public. The amendment will better allow the Law Society to take action in those rare cases where there is a compelling public interest in suspending or limiting the practice of a lawyer before a citation has been authorized. See new Rule 3-7.1 in the Publications and Forms / Law Society Rules section of the Society's website.

Hearing panels may consider ungovernability

The Benchers also approved amendments to the Rules that will improve public protection by permitting hearing panels to impose a penalty based on the ungovernability of the respondent. The concept of ungovernability, which has been adopted by other legal regulators in Canada, allows hearing panels to take into account the entire discipline history of the lawyer when determining penalties for those who routinely ignore their professional obligations. See subrules 4-35(5) to (7) in the Publications and Forms / Law Society Rules section of the Society's website.

Further progress on 2009 AGM member resolutions related to Aboriginal lawyers

The Benchers have identified the retention of Aboriginal lawyers as one of the key objectives in the Law Society's current strategic plan, and continue to work toward the implementation of the resolutions passed at last year's annual general meeting. For more information, see What's New.

New Chief Legal Officer

Vancouver lawyer Deborah Armour is the Law Society's new CLO, filling a position left vacant by Howard Kushner, who moved to the Law Society of Alberta late last year. Deborah has more than 20 years of legal experience, including 15 years of compliance leadership in regulated industries. Most recently, Deborah has been the Director of Legal and Compliance Services for Powerex Corporation.

Law Week: April 11-17

The Law Society is pleased to be a partner in this important event for the public. Along with free law classes and legal advice, mock trials and a public forum, the event also features a charity fun run. Proceeds from this year's run will go to Access Pro Bono. If you would like more information on the run, or are willing to help sponsor the event, contact the Canadian Bar Association: cba.org/lawweek/about/main/committee.aspx.

Pro bono participation impressive

BC lawyers continue to show their commitment to the public through pro bono activities. The Law Foundation of BC reports that more than 1,000 lawyers provided free legal advice in 2009. As well,nearly 300 law students volunteered their time to help the public with legal problems. In all, nearly 14,000 clients throughout the province were served. The Law Foundation thanked the Law Society for its contribution of more than $127,000, nearly one-quarter of the funding the Foundation provided to pro bono organizations last year.

Practice direction

The Acting Chief Judge of the Provincial Court has issued a practice direction for the Kootenay district (Nelson). Details are available on the Court website: www.provincialcourt.bc.ca.

New password required for Law Society member log in

With the growing number of applications and forms in the member area of the Law Society website, lawyers have expressed concern about the security of the current last name and member ID log in. In response to the concern, lawyers accessing the member only section on or after April 5 will be prompted to create a new eight character password in place of the member ID they have been using. Prior to April 5, members will have the option of changing their password once they have logged in. For more information, see http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/password.cfm.

Job posting

The Lawyers Insurance Fund is looking for a new Claims Counsel to join the team of lawyers managing and defending lawyers' professional liability claims. This position requires a litigator with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, strong analytical abilities and a keen interest in continuing to act as counsel. For this and other positions available with the Lawyers Insurance Fund, see About the Law Society/Careers.

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

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.