E-Brief: July 2011
Lawyers invited to comment on cloud computing report
The report of the Law Society's Cloud Computing Working Group was adopted by the Benchers at their July meeting. The report recommends a number of steps the Law Society needs to take to ensure its regulatory processes keep pace with technological developments including the use of third-party service providers for electronic data storage and processing that is accessed remotely over a network (commonly called cloud computing). It also contains guidance to help lawyers meet their professional obligations. Read the report and send your feedback to Law Society policy lawyer Doug Munro.
Feedback still needed on conflict of interest portion of proposed new code
This is a reminder to lawyers interested in helping shape an important part of the new BC Code of Conduct, which will replace the Professional Conduct Handbook. Information on how to comment
New Discipline Alert cautions lawyers to disclose commissions in investor immigrant matters
Immigrants to Canada under the "Investor Category" are required to make substantial interest-free loans to the government. Those loans are usually financed and/or facilitated through Canadian financial institutions, which often pay significant commissions to the lawyers who act for the investor immigrants. The Law Society has become aware that some lawyers do not fully disclose to their clients receipt of these commissions or their amounts, contrary to the ethical obligations set out in the Professional Conduct Handbook. Read more.
Fraudsters continue to ask lawyers to pay money out of trust based on a fake deposit, often under the guise of collecting on a phony debt. For more on the four general categories to look out for and the latest fraud scenarios and how to avoid them, read the Bad cheque and other instrument scams section in Fraud Alerts.
Law Society responds to recent Advocate article regarding conveyancing protocol
The July 2011 edition of the Advocate includes an article about the Western Law Societies Conveyancing Protocol that makes certain inaccurate assumptions and paints an incomplete picture of the underlying purpose of the Protocol and the Law Society's communication with the profession at the time the Protocol was introduced. To assist the profession, the Law Society has addressed these issues in a posting on its website.
Admission forms amended with new medical fitness questions
In response to 2009 and 2011 BC Human Rights Tribunal decisions, the Law Society has re-formulated the medical fitness questions on all lawyer and student application forms and revised its policies and procedures accordingly. This will ensure the admission process continues to protect the public, while at the same time treats applicants fairly. More information is available in a Law Society news release.
Benchers have adopted rule changes related to Law Society investigations and hearings. The process for claiming a privacy interest in material that is copied in the course of a discipline investigation is clarified (Rule 4-43(1) to (1.3)). In addition, a respondent or applicant subject to an order under Rule 5-4 may be cross-examined by Law Society counsel.
Best practices for family law
Benchers have voted to endorse guidelines put forward in a report by the Family Law Task Force. The guidelines are meant to be aspirational standards for lawyers practising family law, and are available in Practice Resources.
As the implementation of the Law Society's first Strategic Plan (2009-2011) nears completion, Benchers took part in an initial discussion of issues and potential priorities for the upcoming three-year plan at their July meeting. Among the priorities discussed were access to legal services and enhancing relationships with Law Society stakeholders. Benchers are expected to prioritize goals and objectives for the 2012-2014 Strategic Plan in the fall.
Support for Aboriginal law students and lawyers
As part of its strategic objective to support Aboriginal lawyers, the Law Society was recently involved in two initiatives marking National Aboriginal Day. The Society sponsored Aboriginal lawyers from outside Vancouver to attend a Legal Services Society workshop. Held on June 21, 2011, Gladue in Practice offered information about the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v. Gladue and its practical application for those assisting and representing Aboriginal offenders in the legal system. In addition, the Society sponsored a reception on June 17 to launch the 2011 online auction in support of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch's Aboriginal Law Student Scholarship Trust.
2011 Pacific Legal Technology Conference October 7, 2011
Co-organized by the Law Society, this conference is designed to help lawyers, paralegals, legal staff and others grapple with the latest developments in managing legal technology. Education tracks include: Solo and Small Firm Track; Social Media, Mobile and Marketing Track; e-Trials, e-Discovery, e-Litigation and e-Mediation Track; Paperless Track; Tools for Collaboration/Cloud Track; and Innovative and Strategic Technologies. The conference qualifies for Continuing Professional Development credit. More information coming soon on the conference website.
The Provincial Court has issued a notice clarifying the role and correct form of address for Judicial Justices. See the full text of the June 1 notice on the court's website.
Changes to BC's online natural resource licensing system
The provincial government has announced upgrades to its online licensing system, making it easier to apply for provincial permits, authorizations and licences through FrontCounter BC. It has also added two new authorizations: Water Licence Transfer and Water Licence Name Change. Read the news release.
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