E-Brief: June 2010

Three new appointed Benchers

The provincial government has named three new appointed Benchers to the Law Society's governing board. They are Satwinder Bains, Benjimen Meisner and, as of July 2, Claude H. Richmond, who join our existing appointed Benchers Haydn Acheson, Stacy Kuiack and Peter Lloyd. Appointed non-lawyer Benchers bring a variety of perspectives and expertise to the work of regulating lawyers in the public interest. For more information on the new Benchers, see the News Release.

Law Society event in support of Aboriginal representation in the legal profession

As a part of our strategic initiative to improve the retention rate of Aboriginal lawyers in the legal profession, the Law Society presented an event in support of Aboriginal lawyers and students. Inspiring stories connecting future leaders was attended by about a hundred lawyers, law students and other interested people on June 16, 2010. Retired Judge Alfred Scow was recognized as the first Aboriginal person in BC to graduate from law school, to become a member of the Bar and to be appointed to the Bench. Patrick Kelly, who served as an appointed Bencher until late May, told the audience in his closing remarks, "This isn't the end of the Law Society's interest in this area. We are working on a number of initiatives and strategies to help retain Aboriginal lawyers." The Law Society is undertaking a demographic project to better understand the participation of Aboriginal lawyers and will be developing a business case for diversity, including the retention and advancement of Aboriginal lawyers.

Benchers focus on access to legal services

The Benchers held their annual retreat in Parksville on June 11 and 12. A full day was devoted to a workshop coordinated by the Delivery of Legal Services Task Force, which has been charged with developing ways to improve public access to affordable, competent legal services. Specifically, the task force has identified expanding the role of supervised paralegals as one significant opportunity to improve the delivery of affordable legal services. The task force is expected to present its final report to the Benchers in the fall.

Workshop aims to assist media with legal reporting

Sixty-five journalists attended this year's Media and Law Workshop, organized by the Law Society in partnership with the Jack Webster Foundation. The event is held annually to contribute to the Benchers' strategic objective of effective education of the public; to that end the workshop helps journalists educate the public about legal issues, through knowledgeable and accurate reporting. It was held at the Law Courts Inn in Vancouver, with the Webster Foundation providing a satellite event in Kamloops. Among the panellists was BC Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Gaul. One reporter called the discussions "entertaining and eye-opening."

Application process for multi-disciplinary practice clarified; fees set

Further to the Rule changes that come into effect on July 1 and permit lawyers to form partnerships with non-lawyers in limited circumstances, the application process for multi-disciplinary practices has now been clarified, and fees have been set. See amended Rules.

Lawyers' tradition of providing pro bono legal assistance affirmed

Benchers have adopted a new rule that recognizes that lawyers provide extensive pro bono services, affirms the ethical duty to provide service to those in need and requires that a lawyer's obligation to provide quality legal services to a client not be affected by the pro bono status of the case. See new Rule 13 and footnote 7 of Chapter 3 in the Professional Conduct Handbook.

Law Society supports measures to protect privilege between lawyers and incarcerated clients

The BC Corrections Branch has implemented a process to enable lawyers to register their phone numbers with the Corrections Branch. Calls made by clients in correctional facilities to and from lawyers at their registered phone numbers will not be recorded or monitored. If you have not already registered your phone numbers, you can do so by contacting the Corrections Branch registration line toll-free at 1-888-952-7968.

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.