News Releases

For immediate release September 9, 2002

Law Society of B.C. welcomes new Lay Benchers

The Law Society of B.C. is pleased to welcome the Attorney General's appointment of five new Lay Benchers and the re-appointment of one Lay Bencher to its governing body.

Founded in 1869, the Law Society regulates the practice of law in B.C. It's primary mandate under the Legal Profession Act is to protect the public interest in the administration of justice. In fulfilling its regulatory duties, the Society is responsible for the licensing, professional conduct and discipline of the more than 10,000 lawyers in B.C.

The Law Society is governed by 31 directors who are known as "Benchers." Twenty-five of the Benchers are elected by lawyers from among the profession. In addition, the provincial government appoints six non-lawyers as Benchers to ensure the public interest is represented in all Law Society decisions.

The new Lay Bencher appointments are:

Dr. Maelor Vallance Dr. Vallance is a psychiatrist currently on staff at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. He is also Clinical Professor Emeritus in the U.B.C. Faculty of Medicine and has frequently appeared as an expert witness in court cases.

Michael J. Falkins Mr. Falkins is a retired insurance broker who lives in Victoria. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Falkins ran his own insurance brokerage in Cranbrook, Fort Nelson and Victoria and was Senior Vice-President of Aon Reed Stenhouse.

Valerie J. MacLean Ms. MacLean is Vice-President of Consumer Affairs for the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. Prior to joining the Better Business Bureau, Ms. MacLean worked for the provincial government and was an RCMP officer in Burnaby and Maple Ridge. She lives in Vancouver.

Patrick Nagle Mr. Nagle is the former City Editor of the Vancouver Sun and was presented with the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award by the Jack Webster Foundation in 2001. As a journalist, Mr. Nagle has covered major political events around the world and in 2001 assisted reporters in Cambodia to prepare for democratic elections in that country. Mr. Nagle is retired and lives in Sooke.

Patrick Kelly Mr. Kelly is a member of the Lakahahmen First Nation and is Director of Strategic Planning and Communications with the B.C. Regional Office of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Prior to joining INAC, Mr. Kelly ran his own consulting business. He resides in Vancouver.

Re-appointed as a Lay Bencher is:

June Preston Ms. Preston is a social worker and is Director of Family Education Services for the Vancouver Island Health Authority in Victoria. In 2002, she received an international award for her work with adoptive families. She has also been recognized by her profession as Social Worker of the Year. Ms. Preston was first appointed Bencher in April 2001.

These appointments expire Dec. 31, 2003.

"The Lay Benchers are a critical part of the governance of the legal profession," said Law Society President, Richard Gibbs, Q.C. "They bring the opinions of the general public and the perspectives of other professions to our decision-making process and I welcome them to the Law Society."

The Law Society's first Lay Bencher was journalist and broadcaster Jack Webster who was appointed in 1988 and served for eight years. Since then, Lay Benchers have included social workers, union leaders, community activists and representatives of many other professions.

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.
Cellular: 604-836-3257