E-Brief: April 2011

Professional Conduct Handbook to be replaced

The Benchers have adopted updated and revised ethical conduct guidelines that will form part of a new BC Code of Conduct. The new code is based on the "Model Code," which the Federation of Law Societies has recommended for adoption by all law societies. Work continues on the portion that covers conflicts, and an effective date for the new code has yet to be set. As was done with the guidelines already adopted by the Benchers, a draft of the conflicts portion will be circulated to the profession for consultation in the near future.

Strong support for continuing professional development

A recent survey shows broad support for the CPD program. Of the 1,419 lawyers who participated in this month's survey, 78% agreed that continuing education should be mandatory for lawyers, with more than half agreeing that the annual requirement is likely to strengthen the quality of legal services that BC lawyers provide their clients. Compliance rates since the program's inception in 2009 are also encouraging. By mid-April, only nine of the province's more than 10,300 practising lawyers failed to log the required number of hours for the past year. Read more.

Progress on expanding roles for paralegals and articled students

Law Society president Gavin Hume, QC and the chair of the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee, Art Vertlieb, QC, reported on steps taken to help make legal services more affordable to low and middle-income earners. Initial meetings have been held with the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court. The courts have appointed representatives to be involved in examining the challenges and opportunities related to increasing the court-related services paralegals and articled students can provide under the supervision of a lawyer. Vertlieb also reported that the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee has made progress in identifying Law Society rule changes that may be required.

Access to legal services

In recognition of this year's Access to Justice theme for Law Week, the Law Society has developed a new web page to assist and educate the public. It includes links to the Law Society's new YouTube channel. Visit the Access to Legal Services web page.

Attorney General speaks at April meeting

The Honourable Barry Penner, QC updated the Benchers on several topics, including the upcoming referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax. Penner reports the HST referendum ballots will be mailed out starting June 13 and completed ballots will need to be received by Elections BC on or before July 22 to be included in the results.

Rules updated

Rule 3-57(3) has been updated to allow lawyers to make a bill available to a client by any means that would allow the client to review the bill and save a paper or electronic copy or by other means agreed to by the client.

Practice direction

The BC Court of Appeal has issued a practice note on obtaining oral reasons for judgment. Read the note.

LTSA survey deadline extended

To ensure that lawyers voices are heard, the Land Title and Survey Authority has extended the deadline for its stakeholder survey to Friday April 29. Complete the survey.

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