E-Brief: July 2012

Supreme Court of BC approves paralegal pilot project

BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman has approved in principle the Law Society's proposal that supervised paralegals be granted limited right of audience in certain matters in family law proceedings. This is a critical step towards enhancing the role of paralegals and providing the public greater access to reasonably priced legal services. Details of the two-year pilot project, set for implementation on January 1, 2013, are now being developed.

Law Society partnering with CLE to offer free education to lawyers on the new BC Code

The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia comes into effect January 1, 2013 and will apply to all lawyers. The Law Society is partnering with the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia to offer free education for BC lawyers on the new Code, which will replace the Professional Conduct Handbook. More details about the sessions, which will qualify for continuing professional development credits, will be available this fall and they will be offered early in 2013. Read the BC Code.

2013 fee approved by the Benchers

The Benchers have approved the annual mandatory fee for 2013 of $3,643.06, 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. For the first time, lawyers will not be asked to approve the annual fee, due to changes to the Legal Profession Act passed in 2012. For more information, see the annual general meeting notice.

Feedback sought on draft model Mareva injunction

The Law Society is seeking feedback from BC lawyers on a draft model Mareva injunction order that, if sufficiently supported by the profession, may form the basis of a practice direction similar to the process provided for model Anton Piller orders. The objective of the draft model order, which was prepared by a working group formed by the Law Society in response to commentary of the Supreme Court in Celanese Canada Inc. v. Murray Demolition Corp. [2006] 2 S.C.R. 189, is to preserve assets while ensuring fairness to both the subject of the order and third parties, in the context of the general rule against pre-judgment execution. Download a PDF of the draft model order. Send your comments no later than October 15, 2012 to Michael Lucas, Manager of Policy and Legal Services, at mlucas@lsbc.org or 604.669.2533.

Attention plaintiffs bar: "advance loan" risk

The Lawyers Insurance Fund has seen a marked increase in claims reported by the plaintiffs bar relating to "advance loans." These are loans given to plaintiff clients in anticipation of a settlement or judgment relating to a personal injury or other tort claim. The advance loan practice may put a lawyer at significant risk of liability. Learn more about the risk and how to protect yourself.

Law Society report now available on diversity in the legal profession

Towards a More Diverse Legal Profession: Better practices, better workplaces, better results (PDF) has been published and a limited number of print copies are available. The report provides both data illustrating the current demographics of the legal profession in BC and the case for promoting and encouraging diversity within law firms. A summary of the report can be found in the Spring 2012 edition of the Benchers' Bulletin. For more information about the report, contact Michael Lucas, Manager of Policy and Legal Services, at mlucas@lsbc.org or 604.669.2533.

New task force to examine whether the Law Society should expand regulatory scope

As regulation of legal services continues to evolve in BC and elsewhere, the Benchers are considering the possibility of expanding the regulatory scope of the Law Society beyond lawyers. The Benchers have decided to strike a new task force that will examine whether the Law Society should be regulating other providers of legal services. The impetus for the task force comes from the experience of other jurisdictions and the Benchers' interest in increasing access to a range of legal services that offer the public options within the security of regulation and oversight. The task force will be chaired by Law Society president Bruce LeRose, QC.

Law Society continues work to assist journalists with knowledge of legal reporting

A video is now available on the Law Society's YouTube channel of the 2012 Law and the Media Workshop, Get the story, avoid the legal traps. Each year, the Society and the Jack Webster Foundation invite the media to a free workshop featuring a panel of experts. 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. Approximately 30 journalists attended this year's workshop held in Kamloops at Thompson Rivers University on May 16. More information.

Benchers approve changes to rules to enhance mobility of foreign lawyers

At their July meeting, the Benchers approved the removal of the requirement for foreign lawyers to secure a permit from the Law Society before temporarily practising law in BC. Foreign lawyers will be required to meet certain conditions, such as carrying insurance comparable to that required by a BC lawyer. Related new rules will be drafted in coming weeks.

Updates to Law Society website provide easier access to reference materials

The Law Society website has been improved to provide easier access to practice support resources and to forms. Materials are now more centralized and can be accessed from the website home page. Please see Practice Support and Resources, Publications and Forms for these materials. Enhancements to the website are ongoing and largely based on user feedback. Please send any comments to communications@lsbc.org.

Pro Bono Going Public 2012

Access Pro Bono seeks Vancouver, New Westminster, Kelowna and Victoria lawyers to volunteer for its fifth annual free legal advice-a-thon in September. In each outdoor advice-a-thon location, volunteer lawyers will provide free legal advice within their particular areas of expertise to one or two pre-booked or drop-in clients. Clients will be low- and modest-income individuals who may otherwise have limited access to traditional free legal advice clinics. More information on Pro Bono Going Public 2012 is available at www.advice-a-thon.ca.

Law Foundation establishes legal research fund

The Law Foundation of BC has established a fund of $100,000 per year to support legal research projects that "advance the knowledge of law, social policy, and the administration of justice." The fund is open to lawyers and members of BC law faculties and other faculties. Details.

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Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.