Half-way there: Benchers make significant progress on strategic plan

The Benchers continue to make significant strides in carrying out the goals of the Law Society three-year strategic plan, which was launched in early 2009 and is set for completion by year-end 2011.

As reported by CEO Timothy McGee at a recent Benchers meeting, implementation of the plan is progressing well and on schedule. Of 20 total initiatives outlined in the plan, eight have been completed, nine are under way and the commencement of work on three is pending.

The strategic plan is written around three principal goals aimed at achieving concrete results that will improve the public interest in the administration of justice. They include:

1. enhancing access to legal services;

2. enhancing public confidence in the legal profession through appropriate and effective regulation of legal professionals;

3. effective education, both of legal professionals and those wishing to become legal professionals, and of the public.

“The progress to date has been impressive,” explains McGee. “The process has tried to avoid simply identifying issues on which the only action would be to make general comments. So far, I believe we have successfully done that and we are seeing it in the achievements to date.”

By way of example, one of the plan’s strategies to enhance access to legal services is to develop a new regulatory -paradigm that may broaden the range of persons permitted to provide certain legal services.

At the June 2010 Benchers retreat, a presentation was made by the Delivery of Legal Services Task Force that focused on expanding the responsibilities of lawyer-supervised paralegals to increase the availability of effective and affordable legal services. At the October 2010 meeting, the Benchers approved a plan to increase the roles that paralegals and articled students can perform under the supervision of a lawyer.

Another strategy to enhance access to legal services is to improve the retention rate of lawyers in the legal profession including, in particular, Aboriginal lawyers.

In July 2009, a business case was developed by the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee outlining a series of recommendations aimed at improving the retention of women lawyers in the profession. Staff is now following up on two of the recommendations and the report has received broad exposure amongst the legal profession.

The Committee is now reviewing recent research regarding retention of lawyers from diverse communities, including Aboriginal lawyers, with plans to develop a business case for diversity and the retention of Aboriginal lawyers in British -Columbia.

“At this pace,” said McGee, we expect to complete our first strategic plan on schedule and be in a position to assess any emerging priorities for the current or next iteration of the plan.”