E-Brief: June 2011

"Discipline Alerts" to help lawyers avoid complaints

The Law Society has started a new service to inform lawyers about conduct that can result in complaints and lead to discipline. The first alert focuses on civility and offers examples of rude and discourteous behaviours that have led to complaints and subsequent disciplinary action by the Law Society. See Discipline Alerts on the website, and read more in the latest Benchers' Bulletin.

Benchers adopt new guidelines for Discipline Committee

Benchers have adopted new guidelines to assist the Discipline Committee in making appropriate and consistent decisions on professional conduct matters that come before them. The guidelines are the culmination of approximately 18 months of research and analysis by the Discipline Guidelines Task Force. Read new guidelines contained in the task force report.

Benchers explore the future of legal regulation at annual retreat

An expert panel of speakers and a subsequent debate and discussion kicked off an all-day session on the possible evolution of legal regulation in BC. At their annual retreat held in Whistler on June 17, 2011, Benchers explored alternative regulatory models using examples from other jurisdictions and speculated on how the demand and marketplace for legal services might look in years to come. The provocative discussion was very well received and will serve as the basis for future work in this area.

Attorney General outlines fall agenda at recent Benchers meeting

Attorney General Barry Penner, QC attended the June Benchers meeting and provided highlights of recent and future ministry priorities. Fifteen bills were passed in the last legislative session and planning is now underway for the fall. Changes to the Family Law Act are a priority as are amendments to the Legal Profession Act. Penner also has immediate plans to meet with the federal minister of justice to discuss changes to the Criminal Code, specifically with respect to finding people not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.

Updates to Rules and Handbook

The Rules have been amended to allow the President to appoint non-lawyers as members of Law Society regulatory committees (Rules 2-24, 3-10, 3-29, 3-34 and 4-2). As well, the rules governing complaints investigations are updated to clarify that lawyers are required to cooperate with a Law Society investigation, answer questions, orally or in writing, as directed, and produce records, including those that are privileged or confidential, and to enable investigators to enter lawyers' offices during business hours or by agreement (Rules 3-5 and 3-5.1). The Professional Conduct Handbook is amended in response to a court decision that a fraudulent conveyance does not necessarily involve dishonesty on the part of the lawyer or client (Chapter 4, Rule 6).

Law Society Annual Review and financial statements

The 2010 Annual Review and financial statements are now published. In consideration of cost savings and our environmental footprint, they are available only in electronic form on the website with both publications conveniently formatted for downloading and printing.

New options available for receiving electronic publications

In keeping with the Law Society's ongoing efforts to cut down on the use of paper, lawyers will now be able choose to receive either the Benchers' Bulletin or the Member's Manual amendment packages (or both) in electronic form. This eliminates the all-or-nothing situation in which lawyers could only elect to receive both publications in either print or electronic form. To change your preferences, sign in to Lawyer Log In and select My settings > Email and electronic permissions and preferences.

Lawyer-only section of website improved

The secured log-in section of the Law Society website has been improved with updated and streamlined content. In particular, the continuing professional development (CPD) section now features a new look and easier access to information about credits and upcoming courses.

New CPD email address

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) now has its own dedicated email address: cpd@lsbc.org. Lawyers will receive CPD notices from this address and should use this address for any related inquires. Lawyers are asked to update their spam filters to avoid non-delivery from this email address. Email us your questions or call 604.605.5311.

Law Society encourages succession planning

June marks the launch of a new campaign to encourage lawyers to take the critical step of arranging for a winding up caretaker for their practices should they become ill or die. The campaign, entitled "Succession planning, it's good practice," focuses on sole practitioners. Tools to assist lawyers to act as winding up caretakers are available on the website in the practice support section. Lawyers with questions should contact the Custodianship department at 604.669.2533 or custodianship@lsbc.org.

Workshop for journalists

Approximately 50 members of the media attended an evening workshop held at the Law Society building on June 22. The event, entitled Socially sound, legally smart: the legal implications for journalism of an on-line age, is sponsored by the Law Society and the Jack Webster Foundation. The annual event contributes to the Benchers' strategic objective of effective education of the public and helps journalists gain a better understanding of the justice system and legal issues. More information.

Practice directions and notices from the courts

The Supreme Court of BC has issued two practice directions, which take effect on June 30, 2011. PD-29 - Model Companies Creditors Arrangement Act Initial Order and PD-30 - Model Receivership Order direct the use of model orders for certain proceedings and make it easier for the parties and the court to focus on the issues that are in dispute. With the issuance of these practices directions, PD-15 - Model Companies Creditors Arrangement Act Initial Order and PD-16 - Model Receivership Order are rescinded. The court has also published an Index of current Practice Directions and Administrative Notices and a Table of Concordance, which includes all of the Practice Directions and Administrative Notices issued on or after July 1, 2010.The Provincial Court has issued two notices: Notice to the Profession - Representation at a Mediation Session outlines changes to the rules for mediation sessions; and Notice to the Profession - Judicial Justices clarifies the correct form of address for some judicial officers of the court.

Law Society online update

Keep up to date on the latest information by following the Law Society on Twitter. The Law Society is also building a library of video and audio on YouTube.

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