Law Society AGM
Fung elected Second Vice-President
|Lawyers at the September 24 AGM gave their unanimous support to Anna K Fung, QC — pictured here with President William M. Everett, QC — by electing her Second Vice-President for 2005. Ms. Fung, a senior counsel at Terasen Gas Inc., has been a Bencher for Vancouver since 1998.|
Lawyers attending the Annual General Meeting on September 24 elected Anna K. Fung, QC as Second Vice- President for 2005. Ms. Fung is a senior counsel at Terasen Inc. Called to the bar in 1986, Ms. Fung practised corporate-commercial law, Aboriginal rights litigation and administrative law at Davis & Company and McCarthy Tétrault in Vancouver before joining Terasen.
First elected a Bencher of the Law Society in 1998, she is currently Chair of the Discipline Committee and a member of the Futures and Executive Committees. She has also been Chair of the Equity and Diversity Committee and a member of the Credentials Committee. Ms. Fung has served a number of professional and community organizations.
Honoraria increase approved
At the AGM lawyers also voted (107:2) in favour of an increase in the honoraria paid to the Law Society President and two Vice-Presidents.
In 2005, the honoraria will accordingly increase by $5,000, to $80,000 for the President and to $30,000 for each of the Vice-Presidents. In each year after 2005, the honoraria will be adjusted by an amount proportionate to the change in the Consumer Price Index for British Columbia for the preceding year.
No waiver of SCF fee for some lawyers in 2005
Also on the agenda was a resolution put forward by lawyers Dugald Christie and Del Feller of Vancouver to waive payment of the 2005 Special Compensation Fund fee for lawyers who have limited income, practise outside the commercial-conveyancing fields and would face hardship as a result of the fee. The motion was defeated (46:68).
|Vancouver lawyer Dugald Christie speaks to his motion at the AGM.|
In discussing the motion, some lawyers expressed the view that, while certain areas or types of practice could represent a lower risk to the Special Compensation Fund, the Fund was a shared responsibility of all lawyers. Others at the meeting supported greater financial accommodations for lawyers who represent a low risk to the Fund and cannot afford fees because of limited means, which may include lawyers who practise part-time by reason of disability.
Mr. Christie told the meeting that there would be lawyers, including himself, who would go out of practice next year because of the fee. While the principle of lawyers bearing the cost of the fee equally was a noble one, there was a higher principle at stake in having lawyers available to represent the public. "We should have in mind the catastrophic effect on the public of high costs of legal representation," he said, adding that specialization in the profession makes it ever more difficult for the general public to find lawyers at a cost they can afford. "Thirty years ago, well over 50% of the bar could serve the ordinary people. There are articles and studies now that show that that’s down to 30% of the profession in Vancouver. So the pool of lawyers to serve ordinary people has greatly diminished."
Bencher Jim Vilvang, QC noted that pro bono services for the poor should be a responsibility shared by the profession as a whole and not carried out by one group of lawyers who then pay lower fees. In his view, the proposed resolution would also prove divisive for the bar. "If we carve off a special niche for lawyers engaged in poverty law, I expect that the next group of lawyers who would be approaching us would be criminal lawyers who also do not customarily handle large trust accounts and are, from what I understand, economically disadvantaged presently. And then I see other groups coming for similar exemptions and then, before we know it, the burden on our remaining members has increased dramatically and becomes unfair to them."
President William Everett, QC said that the Benchers would take note of the views raised at the meeting for further consideration.
The AGM further approved PriceWaterhouseCoopers as the Society’s auditors for 2004.