E-Brief: November 2011

Task force appointed to clarify certain land title document issues

A recent summary of a conduct review in Benchers' Bulletin has caused some concern among lawyers regarding amendments to executed and certified land title documents. For clarification, see the related notice. The Law Society regrets any confusion this summary may have caused.

Discipline Alert cautions lawyers to ensure trust cheques signed by practising lawyer

The Compliance Audit program has uncovered a number of instances where a lawyer has permitted a non-lawyer to be the sole signatory to a trust cheque, contrary to Rule 3-56(2)(c). This significantly increases the risk trust funds may be mishandled, whether through mistake or otherwise. The Law Society expects lawyers to understand trust accounting obligations and to ensure that proper safeguards are in place. Read more.

Three new members named to Committee on Relations with the Judiciary

The Committee on Relations with the Judiciary is an informal and optional resource for lawyers and judges in the course of a trial or other proceeding. The committee provides guidance, at the request of a judge, to lawyers who need emergency assistance, or who need advice and assistance to make a complaint about a judge's conduct. Three senior practitioners, drawn from civil, criminal and family litigation bars, have recently agreed to sit on the committee. They are J. Kenneth McEwan, QC (civil), Ian Donaldson, QC (criminal) and Dinyar Marzban, QC (family). The three replace Karen Nordlinger, QC, who is stepping down after providing 15 years of service since the program's inception in the 1990s. Further details and contact information.

New hearing panel participants selected

The Law Society has selected a group of non-Bencher lawyers and members of the public for participation on hearing panels adjudicating discipline and credentials matters. Each hearing panel will now include a Bencher, a non-Bencher lawyer and a public representative. Expanding the discipline and credentials process beyond Benchers is intended to result in increased transparency, effectiveness and public confidence. Read the news release.

Alternate business structures in the legal profession

The Independence and Self-Governance Advisory Committee has presented a report to the Benchers detailing the most current information about Alternate Business Structures (ABS), business models through which legal services are delivered that are different from the standard sole proprietorship or partnership models. The report analyzes the benefits and risks of ABS and makes preliminary recommendations. While the committee believes the public benefits of these business models are currently at best speculative, it recommends the Law Society give them serious consideration and continue to monitor developments in the UK, Australia and the US. The committee will report back. Read the report.

Deputy AG updates on ministry initiatives to increase access to justice

Deputy Attorney General David Loukidelis, QC updated the Benchers on his ministry's "justice transformation" initiatives aimed at making the system more accessible and user-friendly to the public. He reported that the first phase of the government's E-Court project is now underway and requested help from the Benchers in finding ways to support service hubs, called Justice Access Centres, currently in Vancouver and Nanaimo, with the goal of expanding them to more areas of the province. Loukidelis reiterated the ministry's commitment to these initiatives.

Reminder to provide feedback on cloud computing report

In July the Law Society released the Report of the Cloud Computing Working Group and asked for feedback from the profession. The deadline for responding is November 18, 2011. Send your comments to Doug Munro, Staff Lawyer, Policy and Legal Services.

Print publication subscription fee to be charged in 2012

As reported in last month's E-Brief, the Law Society will begin charging a fee for print subscriptions to Benchers' Bulletin and Member's Manual to cover printing and mailing costs. Lawyers can change their publication preferences any time by visiting Lawyer Login and have until March 2, 2012 to do so to avoid being billed. If you have any questions, please contact the Law Society. Related article.

Law Foundation report to the Benchers

Law Foundation Chair Margaret Sasges presented the organization's 2010 Annual Report to the Benchers and gave assurances the foundation will use its reserves to fund its grantees to the full level for as long as possible, despite the economic slowdown. The not-for-profit organization is funded from the interest on client funds held in lawyers' pooled trust accounts and supports legal education, legal research, legal aid, law reform and law libraries. Sasges thanked the Law Society for its assistance in helping the foundation collect more than $1 million in back interest from banks over the past three years in relation to lawyers pooled trust accounts which had not been properly identified by the banks.

Correction to Vancouver Bencher election materials

The election materials recently mailed to members in the County of Vancouver incorrectly identified Wes Mussio's practice as 100% solicitor. Mussio's practice is 100% barrister. The Law Society regrets any inconvenience.

From the courts

The BC Court of Appeal has updated its list of Frequently Cited Authorities. See the Civil and Criminal Practice Note effective October 21, 2011 on the court's website.

Bench and Bar Dinner November 8

Join fellow lawyers and judges for an evening of good company and conversation at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Life Bencher Jim Vilvang, QC will be celebrated as the recipient of the 2011 Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch's Georges A. Goyer, QC Memorial Award for Distinguished Service. Purchase tickets.

Legal journalism award

The recipient of the 2011 Jack Webster Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism was recently announced by the Jack Webster Foundation. CBC reporter Bob Keating was selected for "Banishment," the story of a Nelson man with mental health issues facing a court order to leave the city. The Law Society partners with the foundation and lends its name to the award to encourage excellence in legal reporting. Details.

Reminder of approaching deadline for electronic-only filings with Land Title Office

Lawyers who are currently submitting paper filings with the LTSA are reminded that, effective January 16, 2012, the following land title forms and associated other documents may only be submitted to the LTSA electronically: Form A - Freehold Transfer of Fee Simple, Form B - Mortgage 1, Form C - Charge (without plan) and Form C - Release (without plan). For details on the first and second phases of required e-filing, visit the LTSA website.


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