E-Brief: March 2012

New BC Code takes effect January 1, 2013

The Law Society has taken the final step towards replacing the Professional Conduct Handbook with a new "BC Code" as the regulatory guide on lawyers' ethical obligations. At their March meeting, the Benchers adopted conflicts of interest provisions in the Federation of Law Societies' Model Code of Professional Conduct, with adaptations to improve its use in BC. The adaptations are the result of a comprehensive review, which included two phases of consultation with BC lawyers. The conflicts portion will be combined with already-approved portions of the Code, and Benchers have approved January 1, 2013 as the date for implementation. Read the new BC Code and Table of Concordance. More information will be provided in an upcoming Benchers' Bulletin. Some minor changes to the BC Code may be made before January 1, 2013.

Law Society Award: call for nominations

Lawyers are encouraged to nominate a candidate to receive the Law Society Award in 2012. The award is intended to honour the lifetime contribution of the truly exceptional in the profession. Nominations must be received by Friday, May 11, 2012. For more information, including how to submit a nomination, read the flyer.

Vancouver Bencher by-election announced for May 8, 2012

Following the appointment of Bencher Patricia Bond as a Provincial Court judge as of February 27, the Law Society has announced a Vancouver county by-election to fill the vacated position. Details and nomination forms are available on the website. Bencher Leon Getz, QC has replaced Bond as chair of the Ethics Committee.

New name for committee reflects commitment to rule of law

The Independence and Self-governance Advisory Committee is now operating as the Rule of Law and Independence Advisory Committee. The name change is to make a clearer connection between the rule of law and the public's right to lawyer independence. Some modest changes to the committee's mandate reflect this updated focus.

Most lawyers meet end-of-year CPD requirements

Since the introduction of the Continuing Professional Development program in 2009, BC lawyers have demonstrated an ever-increasing commitment to meeting the deadline for acquiring their educational credits. CEO Tim McGee reported the rate of compliance with the 2011 requirements is approximately 98 per cent, with just two per cent of lawyers still facing the final deadline of April 1, 2012. Professional development is mandatory and lawyers who do not fulfill the requirement are subject to late fees and suspensions.

Progress being made on national standards for competency and good character

The Benchers were updated on the work being done by the Federation of Law Societies to establish national competency and good character standards for admission to the profession. Speaking to the Benchers at their March meeting, the CEO of the Law Society of Alberta and National Admission Standards Project Lead, Don Thompson, QC explained that, while all law societies are committed to high standards and have extensive infrastructure around the training and testing for competencies of potential lawyers, there are at least seven different bar admission programs in the country. While Thompson acknowledged there may be challenges in standardizing these nationally, he noted its importance in ensuring public confidence in the competence and good character of lawyers, no matter the province or territory. The target date for delivery of the standards is September 2012.

Common law degree approved for L'Université de Montréal

L'Université de Montréal now offers an approved common law degree for the purposes of entry into the Society's admission program. L'Université de Montréal has been conferring law degrees in Quebec civil law since 1879 through its Faculty of Law, and now is issuing degrees in common law so graduates can apply for admission to law societies in common law provinces and territories.

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