E-Brief: May 2012

New Bencher elected for Vancouver

Recently elected Vancouver Bencher Miriam Kresivo, QC was sworn in by Law Society president Bruce LeRose, QC at the May 11, 2012 Benchers meeting. Kresivo fills a vacancy left by Patricia Bond, who was appointed a Provincial Court judge. By-election results.

Updated Legal Profession Act enhances Law Society's ability to regulate

The Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012 was passed by the BC Legislature on May 9, 2012 and has received Royal Assent. The amended legislation serves to provide much-need updates to the 1998 Act and gives the Law Society the appropriate authority to regulate the legal profession in the public interest. Many amendments made by the new Act are now in effect; others will come into effect on proclamation, which will take place over the next several months. Consequential amendments to Law Society Rules will be considered by the Benchers over the next several months to ensure effective implementation of the amendments. Read the news release and the redlined updates to the Act.

Benchers approve scholarship for Aboriginal graduate students

The Benchers have approved a scholarship for eligible Aboriginal students proceeding to a full program of graduate studies in a field of law at a recognized institution. The $12,000 annual award is an initiative that aims to enhance the retention of Aboriginal lawyers by supporting the development of Aboriginal leaders and role models in the legal academic community. The retention of Aboriginal lawyers is one of the key objectives in the Society's strategic plan. More information about the application process will be published on the website shortly.

Most lawyers meet requirements for continuing professional development

Lawyers continue to demonstrate their commitment to acquiring the 12 hours of required Continuing Professional Development credits. Since the program's inception in 2009, the rate of compliance has improved steadily. By April 1, 2012, the Society had to suspend only one lawyer for non-completion of the 2011 requirement, a suspension that was lifted on April 26 when that lawyer reported completion of the requirement. That compares to 27 suspensions in 2009 and nine suspensions in 2010.

The limitations in the new Limitation Act will not apply to existing claims

The new Limitation Act has now received Royal Assent. The new Act will not however come into force until proclamation, which is not expected for a period of time. This will allow the profession some time to prepare for transition to the provisions of the new Act. The limitation periods in the current Act will continue to govern claims based on acts or omissions occurring and discovered before the new Act comes into force. As a result, lawyers can rely on the current law in advising clients in relation to existing legal matters. Read Practice Watch in the next Benchers' Bulletin for more information.

Law Society reviews proposed Civil Resolution Tribunal Act

The Society notes with interest the government's introduction of Bill 44, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act. If passed, the Act will create a voluntary process for the resolution of strata and small claims disputes. This will include the introduction of online services to assist in the resolution of disputes by agreement. The Society understands the proposed new civil resolution tribunal is intended to provide an additional option for people and is reviewing the proposal from the perspective of the public interest in the administration of justice.

Equity Ombudsperson delivers report

The Law Society's equity ombudsperson, Anne Bhanu Chopra, has delivered her 2011 report to the Benchers. The ombudsperson handles calls from lawyers, articling students and staff dealing with issues arising from the prohibited grounds of discrimination, including workplace harassment. The office received 87 new calls in 2011, 55 of which were within the ombudsperson's mandate. Read the report.

New resource on CanLII website provides enhanced public access to legal commentary

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), in cooperation with law publisher Lancaster House, recently announced the first step in a project to enhance open access to legal commentary. Wrongful Dismissal and Employment Law (1st Ed.) marks the first time an electronic text authored by experts in a field of law will be fully integrated and freely available on the CanLII website. Read their release. CanLII is funded by Canada's lawyers and notaries.

Workshop for journalists

Approximately 30 members of the media attended an evening workshop held in Kamloops at Thompson Rivers University on May 16. The event, entitled Get the story, avoid the legal traps, was 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 by helping journalists gain a better understanding of the justice system and legal issues. More information.

From the Supreme Court of BC

Practice Direction PD-35 - Sealing Orders in Civil and Family Proceedings, sets out the procedure for applying for an order sealing all or part of the court file in a civil or family law case. PD-35 takes effect on June 1, 2012.

Job posting

The Law Society has openings for a Staff Lawyer, Policy and Legal Services and Claims Counsel. Information on this and other career opportunities.

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