2012 Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of British Columbia

July 24, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Registration: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (Vancouver); 11:45 am – 12:30 pm (other locations)
Call to order: 12:30 pm
Main location: Pan pacific Vancouver, Crystal Pavilion a,
300-999 Canada place, Vancouver
Audio-conference locations: Abbotsford • Castlegar •dawson creek• Kamloops
Kelowna • Nanaimo • Prince George • Prince Rupert • Smithers • terrace • Victoria
Member resolutions to the meeting

Member resolutions submitted to the meeting must be in writing, signed by two members in good standing and received by the Executive Director no later than 5:00 pm on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 (Law Society Rule 16(6)).

If you have any questions regarding resolutions or amendments, contact Bill McIntosh, Manager, Executive Support, by telephone at 604-443-5706 (toll-free in BC 1-800-903-5300) or email at bmcintosh@lsbc.org.

Business

The business of the Annual General Meeting will include the following:

  • Election of Second Vice-President for 2013
  • Appointment of Law Society auditors for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2012
  • Practice fee announcement
  • Member resolutions (if applicable)
Practice fee announcement

In prior years, members have been asked to approve the practice fee at the Annual General Meeting.

With the passage of the Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012 earlier this year, section 23(1) of the Legal Profession Act was amended to provide that the Benchers set the annual fees to fund the Law Society’s operations.

The Benchers did not seek this amendment lightly. However, they recognized that before the amendment, the Law Society and the Association of BC Forest Professionals were the only two major BC professions requiring membership approval of annual fees. The Benchers also noted that every other law society fee is set by the Benchers and that no other Canadian law society has its members approve the practice fee.

Self-regulating professions have come to recognize that membership approval of the fees necessary for effective self-regulation presents an opportunity for critics of self-regulation to argue that the simplest way for members to undermine effective self-regulation is to underfund it.

The Benchers believed that the case for lawyer independence and self-governance would be enhanced, and a clear delineation between member interest and the public interest would be demonstrated, if the Benchers, acting in the public interest, set the practice fee. The Benchers also recognized that ultimately, the members elect 25 of the Benchers and that this exercise of democracy provides accountability for the use of the practice fee.

Overview of 2013 fees

The Benchers have approved a total annual fee of $3,643.06 for 2013, a 1.4% increase over 2012. The practice fee will increase by $52.65 to $1,893.06. The insurance fee will remain the same at $1,750. There will be no Special Compensation Fund assessment in 2013 reflecting the resolution of almost all the outstanding claims under the Fund and the assumption of defalcation coverage under Part B of the insurance program. The Bencher presentation on the 2013 fees and the associated budgets for each fund is available on the Law Society website: see the link from this notice in the Publications section at www.lawsociety.bc.ca.

Practice fee

The Benchers approved the 2013 practice fee based on a thorough review of the Law Society’s finances by the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee met with the chief executive officer and senior management to review the proposed 2013 fees and budgets for the General Fund, the Lawyers Insurance Fund and the Special Compensation Fund. The Finance Committee also reviewed the fee proposals from Courthouse Libraries BC, the Lawyers Assistance Program and The Advocate. Based on these meetings and reviews, the Finance Committee made recommendations to the Benchers regarding the fees for each of these funds and programs. These recommendations have been reviewed by the Executive Committee and were approved by the Benchers at their July 2012 meeting.

The overall objective when setting the practice fee is to ensure that the operations of the General Fund are appropriately funded to enable the Law Society to efficiently and effectively fulfill its statutory mandate of protecting the public interest in the administration of justice.

Law Society operations

For 2013, the Benchers have approved a practice fee increase of $42 related to Law Society operations. The Law Society portion of the General Fund practice fee will have increased an average of 2.4% each year of the five-year period 2009 – 2013. The focus of the 2013 fee-setting and budgeting process was to stabilize the practice fee, to provide for a balanced budget and to maintain the current reserve and cash operating levels.

The practice fee provides continued support for the Law Society Strategic Plan, which addresses three main goals: (1) to be a more innovative, effective professional regulatory body, (2) to provide better access to legal services and (3) to increase public confidence in the administration of justice and the rule of law. Some of the strategic initiatives underway include the development of the Indigenous Lawyer Mentoring Program, a review of the Law Society governance processes and an examination of law firm regulation. Other initiatives include the paralegal pilot project to improve access to legal services, the delivery of resources and education regarding the new BC Code of Conduct, and the implementation of an organization-wide electronic document and records management system.

Based on current economic conditions, the TAF revenue for 2013 is projected to be sufficient to cover the cost of the TAF-funded programs, with no increase to the current trust administration fee of $10.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada provides a national voice for provincial and territorial law societies on important national and international issues. The Law Society’s contribution to the Federation will be $25 per member for 2013, a $5 increase over 2012.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

CanLII is a not-for-profit organization initiated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII’s goal is to make primary sources of Canadian law accessible for free on its website at www.canlii.org. All provincial and territorial law societies have committed to provide funding to CanLII. The Law Society’s contribution is $35.37 per member, an increase of $0.66 from 2012. This increase relates to the increased costs of funding initiatives in CanLII’s 2012-2014 strategic plan, which has been approved by the Federation.

Pro bono funding

The Law Society supports pro bono programs throughout the province with a contribution to the Law Foundation of BC of 1% of the General Fund portion of the annual practice fee. This is an ongoing commitment. The Law Foundation includes that Law Society funding in its financial support to organizations offering pro bono legal services to the public.

Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC)

CLBC provides lawyers and the public in BC with access to legal information, as well as training and support in finding and using legal information. Through its expanding digital collections, website content and training, the library provides practice support for lawyers across the province; and for the public, the Clicklaw website and public library legal collections. The Law Foundation and the Law Society both contribute to CLBC funding. The Law Society’s contribution for 2013 is $185 per member, a $5 increase over 2012. This increase will be used primarily to continue to replace paper resources with digital resources, while maintaining the current staffing levels required to maintain CLBC’s collections and facilities.

Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP)

LAP provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to lawyers and other members of British Columbia’s legal community. Law Society funding for LAP in 2013 is $60 per member, unchanged from 2012.

The Advocate subscription

The 2013 subscription cost for The Advocate, distributed bi-monthly to all BC lawyers, is $27.50, unchanged from 2012.

Special Compensation Fund assessment

The Benchers have determined the Special Compensation Fund assessment is no longer required as of 2013. The elimination of this assessment is made possible by the expected conclusion of the last remaining claims in 2013, and by the management of new defalcation claims under Part B insurance coverage.

Lawyers Insurance Fund assessment

The Benchers have resolved to maintain the annual insurance fee at $1,750 for 2013. While the impact of the recession on claims frequency continues to be felt and the economic downturn has generated increased claims activity, overall the program is managing the increased costs within the existing insurance fee and investment revenue. While the majority of insurance programs in other Canadian law societies have increased their fees, effective management and solid surplus reserves have made it possible for us to hold the Law Society’s insurance fee at $1,750 since 2011. However, future claims experience and continuing low investment returns with continuing financial instability in the markets may require an increase in future years.

Total fee comparison with other law societies*

fee comparison chart

* 2012 Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of Alberta practice fees adjusted by 2% for comparison to 2013 Law Society of BC practice fee, and 2012 Law Society of Upper Canada practice fee adjusted to reflect $2.75 million contribution to operating costs from reserve ($76 per member).

Payment of Annual Fees

At the 2011 Annual General Meeting, a member resolution proposed that the Law Society allow practice fee payments by installments and credit card. Although the member resolution was defeated, the Finance Committee reviewed this issue again in 2012. While recognizing that some members might benefit from permitting payment by installments or credit card, the Finance Committee did not recommend adopting these payment options, due to the costs arising from credit card fees and reduced investment income that would be borne by all members. In addition, the Finance Committee recognized that there were significant operational issues in monitoring and enforcing the payment of fees as a condition of practice. There would also be additional administrative costs in tracking fee payments and late fees and enforcement for non-payment of fees. The Finance Committee also noted that the fee payment options currently available to members include on-line banking, which is a very convenient and low cost method of payment.

For more information

If you have questions about the proposed fees or the financial information in this notice, please contact Jeanette McPhee, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Trust Regulation, by telephone at 604-443-5712 (toll-free in BC at 1-800-903-5300) or email at jmcphee@lsbc.org.

 

2012 Annual General Meeting locations

City/town

Location

Vancouver

Pan Pacific Vancouver, Crystal Pavilion A,
300 - 999 Canada Place, Vancouver , BC V6C 3B5

Abbotsford

Ramada Plaza & Conference Centre
36035 North Parallel Road, Abbotsford, BC V3G 2C6

Castlegar

Fireside Inn
1810 8 Avenue, Castlegar, BC V1N 2Y2

Dawson Creek

The George Dawson Inn
11705 - 8 Street, Dawson Creek, BC V1G 4N9

Kamloops

The Plaza Heritage Hotel
405 Victoria Street, Kamloops, BC V2C 2A9

Kelowna

The Coast Capri Hotel
1171 Harvey Avenue, Kelowna, BC V1Y 6E8

Nanaimo

The Coast Bastion Inn
11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 6E4

Prince George

The Coast Inn of the North
770 Brunswick Street, Prince George, BC V2L 2C2

Prince Rupert

Crest Hotel
222 - 1 Avenue West, Prince Rupert, BC V8J 1A8

Smithers

Alpenhorn Bistro & Bar
1261 Main Street, Smithers, BC V0J 2N0

Terrace

Best Western Plus Terrance Inn
4553 Greig Avenue, Terrace, BC V8G 1M7

Victoria

Hotel Grand Pacific
463 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1X3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

RSVP instructions will be provided in the second notice of the 2012 Annual General Meeting, which will be sent out in late August 2012.