CEO's Perspective

Conference season in Vancouver

Timothy Mceeby Timothy E. McGee

As I write this, I am looking forward to the International Bar Association annual conference, to be held in Vancouver in early October. I hope that many of you will have taken advantage of the opportunity to attend some of the many conference events.

The Law Society will be an active participant in the conference, and I look forward to learning more about topics that are very much at the fore here at home.

We are pleased to be sponsors of a dinner hosted by the Bar Issues Commission (BIC) of the IBA, which exists to address issues facing the profession and to provide opportunities for member organizations to meet and learn from one another.

This year, the BIC’s focus is on the future of legal aid — very much in line with the concerns of the legal community in British Columbia. Earlier this year, the Law Society, in conjunction with the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Foundation of BC and several other legal associations, helped to establish the Public Commission on Legal Aid to engage the public in determining strategies for sustaining legal aid. The commission, ably chaired by Len Doust, QC, is now well into its 11-community tour of the province and we look forward to the final report.

In addition, both the Law Society’s Delivery of Legal Services Task Force and Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee have been looking at finding ways to enhance access to legal services while continuing to protect the public interest. At the October 1, 2010 Benchers meeting, the Benchers passed a recommendation to expand the scope of legal services that paralegals can provide to the public under the guidance of a supervising lawyer.

Another IBA conference event, the Rule of Law Symposium, will speak to an issue that was the focus of the Law Society’s 125th anniversary program last year. This symposium keeps the spotlight on the importance of an independent legal profession and independent judiciary as necessary conditions for the preservation of the rule of law. As the program aptly states, “An independent bar and an independent judiciary with impartial judges are cornerstones in a democratic society and a prerequisite for upholding the rule of law.” The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, PC, Chief Justice of Canada will be adding her perspective to this important discussion.

Mcgee adresses the call ceremony  
Tim McGee addresses the candidates for call and admission at the September call ceremony in Vancouver.  

Just prior to the IBA conference, I will be the local host for the annual conference of IILACE (International Institute of Law Association Chief Executives) in Vancouver. The IILACE conference will bring together the chief executives of bar regulatory and law association groups from over 15 countries including Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Australia, the United States and several African countries. The overarching topic for discussion this year is “The Core Values of the Legal Profession.”

The conference will explore the notion of core values, whether they are the same everywhere, whether they are changing and whether core values are being upheld around the world. The delegates will be asked to complete a survey, which will provide valuable data for further discussion and analysis on the topic. I will report on the results of the IILACE discussions at the November Benchers meeting and in the next edition of Benchers’ Bulletin.

The fall is conference season around the world and this year Vancouver is the centre for law-related conferences with a global flavour. From my perspective, a conference is a success if it stimulates an exchange of ideas on topics that the participants have a vested and shared interest in better understanding. Based upon the effort that has gone into choosing the topics and planning the discussions for both the IBA and the IILACE conferences in Vancouver, I think the success of both events is assured.