|For immediate release||October 10, 2003|
Law Society of BC President resigns
VANCOUVER - Howard Berge, QC today resigned as President of the Law Society of BC.
"In view of the remarks made by the trial judge in her sentencing judgment on Oct. 9, 2003, I will be relinquishing all duties as President of the Law Society of BC until the resolution of the issues which have resulted from her remarks," Mr. Berge said.
Mr. Berge was charged with impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit in October, 2002. Those charges were dropped by Crown Counsel in the course of a court hearing on Thursday, and Mr. Berge instead pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. The Law Society, as the regulatory body for BC lawyers, began an investigation of Mr. Berge's conduct in January by appointing independent counsel. That investigation was held in abeyance awaiting the outcome of the criminal trial and will now resume.
Mr. Berge will be replaced as President for the remainder of 2003 by the Law Society's First Vice-President, William Everett, QC. Mr. Everett is a partner at the Vancouver law firm Lawson, Lundell. He has extensive experience in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation. Mr. Everett will continue as President throughout 2004.
"Mr. Berge has provided the Law Society with more than a decade of valuable, voluntary service," Mr. Everett said. "His actions, as described in yesterday's court case, are completely out of character for him, but it is in the best interest of the public and the profession that he resign as President."
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The Law Society of B.C. was founded in 1869 and is the governing body of the legal profession in B.C. It is an independent organization funded by dues paid by all B.C. lawyers. Under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society is responsible for the licensing, professional conduct and discipline of the more than 10,000 lawyers in B.C.
Law Society of B.C. media contact:
Brad Daisley, Public Affairs Manager
Office: 604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in B.C.