The Law Foundation … 35 years strong

Among the many supporters and guests attending the Law Foundation’s 35th anniversary celebration this summer were (left to right) John W. Horn, QC (Governor 1971- 1978), Madam Justice Pamela Kirkpatrick (current Governor), D. Michael M. Goldie, QC (Founding Governor 1969-1970) and the Hon. Kenneth E. Meredith (Founding Governor 1969-1972).

The Law Foundation of British Columbia celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. The Foundation came into being on April 2, 1969, receiving a statutory mandate to fund legal education, legal research, legal aid, law reform and law libraries in the province.

The Law Foundation of BC was the first of its kind in North America. Interest on lawyers’ pooled trust accounts — previously retained by the financial institutions — was redirected to the Foundation to support programs in BC that advance and promote the rule of law and a just society. Over the past 35 years, the concept of using the interest on lawyers’ pooled trust accounts to promote projects and programs that improve access to justice has spread to all Canadian provinces and across the United States.

On June 25, 2004 the Foundation hosted an anniversary celebration at the Law Courts Inn — attended by the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of British Columbia, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the Law Society and the President of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. A dinner the following evening honoured past chairs of the Law Foundation, including the Foundation’s first chair and a Life Bencher, Arthur Harper, QC.

From its inception through 2003, the Law Foundation has approved grants totalling more than $268 million to support important law-related projects and programs in British Columbia. Here are a couple of recent projects:

Family Mediation Practicum Pilot Project

administered by BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society

The Family Mediation Practicum Pilot Project offers high-quality practicum programs for mediators trained in family mediation and free mediation services for those in family disputes that involve custody, access, guardianship, child support and some small property matters.

This new family justice initiative benefited from a $65,000 grant from the Law Foundation in 2003, in addition to financial support from the Ministry of Attorney General and the Department of Justice.

The BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society intends to create a practicum model that will assist in filling the gap between family mediation training and professional practice. To this end, the Society is collaborating with the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, the Justice Institute of BC and the Legal Services Society.

All mediations in the program are supervised by highly trained and experienced mentors. These mentors assist the mediators in preparing for and conducting mediations and provide constructive feedback following each session.

The project is located at the Fraserside Community Services Society office on the 2nd Floor – 519 7th Street, New Westminster. For more information, contact Carole McKnight, Project Director at 604 516-0788 or by email at fmpp@telus.net.

Graduate fellowships

The Board of Governors has awarded four 2004/2005 Law Foundation graduate fellowships in the amount of $13,750 each (a total of $55,000) to 1) Maureen Fitzgerald: for research on legal education in Canada and specifically the first year of the LL.B. program; 2) Valerie Napoleon: for an inter-disciplinary doctorate program (law and history) at the University of Victoria on "The Consequences of Delgamuukw: its effects on Gitxsan People’s Internal Relationships and on Relationships Between Them and the Land;" 3) Donn Short: for a study on "Human Rights, Cultural Tensions and the Intersection of Law and Education;" 4) Laura Spitz: for a study of international governance models such as NAFTA and similar agreements