E-Brief: March 2011

Lawyers invited to apply for appointment to hearing panel pool

Qualified BC lawyers are invited to volunteer to serve as members of a pool from which hearing panels are drawn. Benchers decided last year to expand hearing panel membership to include non-Bencher lawyers and non-lawyers for the purpose of creating greater public confidence in the hearing process. More information about the selection criteria and application process.

Public opinion poll on perception of lawyers and Law Society

A phone survey of British Columbians in November 2010 reveals a modest positive trend in the public's perception of lawyers and the Law Society. This is the most recent poll commissioned by the Law Society since the late 1990s to help assess the current perception of lawyers and the Society's ability to regulate them. Gauging public perception keeps the Society aware of any concerns the public may have that require further study or action, and to look for opportunities to improve regulation. View the news release and report highlights.

Benchers approve development of model for independent oversight of Law Society's regulatory functions

Amid growing public scrutiny of self-regulatory organizations around the world, Benchers have taken a proactive step by exploring models for an independent review of its regulatory functions that will enhance transparency and public confidence. After considering various options, the Benchers concluded that an oversight framework based on a performance audit and review of best practices is the preferred model and have agreed to begin work on developing an oversight framework based on that model. The Benchers also determined that the Law Society should enhance its communications with the public about the important role played by the Office of the BC Ombudsperson in reviewing the Law Society's handling of complaints against lawyers.

Law Society website now offers easier navigation and more transparency

On March 7, 2011, after six months in development, the Law Society rolled out its redesigned website. In addition to a more contemporary look and feel, the site has been designed to make it easier for both lawyers and the public to get the information they need. Those lawyers who are filing an online Trust Report or Annual Practice Declaration due March 31, 2011 will notice that the appearance of the forms has been updated to match the new website and that all information previously entered has been saved. The site will continue to be improved as suggestions are received. Be sure to bookmark the new website url: www.lawsociety.bc.ca. Feedback is welcome at communications@lsbc.org.

Law Society welcomes final report from Public Commission on Legal Aid

Commissioner Leonard Doust, QC has made a number of recommendations to address the delivery of legal aid in British Columbia after consulting with the public and legal and social service agencies during an 11-community tour of the province last fall. The Society, which provided funding support to the Commission, will take time to review the report and consider its recommendations. "The Law Society is interested in doing all it can to be a part of the solution," said Law Society president Gavin Hume, QC. Read the report.

Legal Services Society presentation to Benchers meeting

In his speech Access to Justice - What the People Want, departing Legal Services Society Chair Mayland McKimm, QC gave Benchers an overview of the LSS's latest research on the barriers to accessing justice that ordinary people face and the current challenges facing the organization in delivering legal aid. McKimm told Benchers they can assist by identifying opportunities to integrate legal aid with other community programs, such as addiction and housing services, and by working together with others in the legal community to reign in the costs of mega trials, which he notes threaten to "devour" legal aid funding.

2010 key performance measures

Rita Andreone, Chair of the Audit Committee, presented a report on the 2010 Law Society key performance measures to Benchers at their March meeting. "KPMs are like a dashboard for Benchers to monitor the outcomes of the Law Society's regulatory functions" explained CEO Tim McGee. "They provide indicators of operations efficiency and effectiveness at the Society." Overall, the Law Society achieved its targets for the year, which will be more fully reported in the Society's Annual Review in May.

Two new law schools approved

Benchers have approved the law degree programs at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops as well as Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, for the purposes of entry into the Society's admission program. Thompson Rivers University will be the first law school in BC's interior, and will welcome its inaugural class of students in September; Lakehead University's program is in development.

Job posting

The Law Society has an opening for a Staff Lawyer, Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement as well as an opening for Discipline Counsel. Information on this and other career opportunities.

Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.