E-Brief: October 2010

Improving public access to legal services

In order to improve the public's access to competent and affordable legal services, the Benchers have approved recommendations to increase the services that paralegals and articled students can provide under the supervision of a lawyer. Read all the recommendations contained in the Delivery of Legal Services Task Force Report (PDF). The task force will be further refining its recommendations and considering rule changes that may be required.

Second Vice-President for 2011 acclaimed at AGM

Art Vertlieb, QC will serve as Second Vice-President for 2011, eventually taking on the role of President in 2013. Vertlieb's practice in Vancouver focuses on personal injury law, medical negligence, professional disputes and criminal law. He was recently appointed commission counsel for the Pickton inquiry. Elected a Bencher in 2003, Vertlieb is currently Chair of the Discipline Committee and the Delivery of Legal Services Task Force.

CPD and part-time lawyers

The Law Society will continue to require that all lawyers attain a minimum of 12 hours of accredited continuing professional development each year, following the voting down of a member resolution at the AGM to reduce the 12-hour requirement for part-time lawyers. The Benchers believe that requiring anything less for part-time lawyers would be inconsistent with the Law Society's mandate to protect the public interest. However, those speaking for the motion raised a number of concerns and suggestions that will be taken into account when the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee reviews the CPD program in 2011. To find out more about the many CPD options available, including courses offered by the Law Society and other organizations, as well as study groups, writing, teaching and mentoring options, log in and visit the CPD section of our online member resources.

Updated discipline rules

The Benchers have approved extensive amendments to the discipline rules. The changes are largely procedural in nature and are intended to make the process of ordering and issuing a citation and running a hearing more efficient and effective. The new rules are published on the website and will be included in the December 2010 Member's Manual amendment package.

Benchers discuss future of legal profession and regulation

The Benchers devoted a significant portion of their October meeting to a discussion on the future of the legal profession and how that will relate to regulation. Jordan Furlong, a lawyer and legal industry consultant, led the discussion following his informative presentation on the subject. Watch for an article in the Winter 2010 Benchers' Bulletin.

Lawyers to be consulted on Model Code of Conduct

The Ethics Committee is preparing for the next step in its consideration of the "Model Code," a professional code approved by the Council of the Federation of Law Societies that sets out expected standards of ethical conduct by lawyers. The Federation has recommended the Model Code for adoption by all law societies in Canada, in order to set national standards. The committee has accepted most of the rules from the Model Code but proposes a number of significant changes to adapt it to the needs of the profession in BC. Lawyers will be asked for input in an upcoming Notice to the Profession.

New requirements for clients in custody cases in four districts

On October 1, the Parenting After Separation program was expanded to four new mandatory sites: Campbell River, Courtenay, Penticton and Vernon. In addition, the Ministry of Attorney General is promoting voluntary participation in the program for Supreme Court litigants. These free, three-hour sessions are offered in 17 locations in BC to help separating and divorcing parents ensure their decisions take into account the best interests of their children. Sessions also inform parents very generally about the litigation process and about non-adversarial options for resolving issues involving children. For more background on the program, read the article in the July-August 2006 Benchers' Bulletin.

Bench and Bar Dinner: Wednesday, November 3

Join fellow lawyers and members of the judiciary for an evening of good company and conversation at the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver. The event is organized by the Law Society and the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch. The late Honourable John Charles Bouck will be celebrated as the recipient of the 2010 Law Society Award. The recipient of the CBABC's Georges A. Goyer, QC Memorial Award will be announced shortly. To download your ticket order form, visit the Law Society's website.

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.