2012 Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of British Columbia

August 29, 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

BC lawyers and articled students are invited to the Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of British Columbia, which will be held on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. The main location is in Vancouver, with the meeting linked to 11 audio-conference locations – in Abbotsford, Castlegar, Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Terrace and Victoria.

Please register on arrival to obtain your voting card. Note that you may be asked for identification; only Law Society of BC members in good standing are eligible to vote.

 

Your RSVP is urgently requested

If you plan to attend the 2012 Annual General Meeting, please email your RSVP by September 14, 2012, using the list of AGM locations and email addresses set out on page 8 of this notice. Note that a light lunch and refreshments will be served.

The Law Society needs your response to arrange for appropriate facilities and to prepare for registration. Please note any access or support needs you may have in your RSVP response.

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Business of the meeting

The business of the AGM includes the following:

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

Each year at the AGM a Bencher is elected by the attending members to serve as Second Vice-President for the following year, pursuant to Law Society Rule 1-18. The Benchers are pleased to announce their nomination of Ken Walker to serve as Second Vice-President in 2013 and invite the profession to support the nomination.

Under Rule 1-3(2), the Second Vice-President for 2013 will be First Vice-President in 2014 and President in 2015.

 

Ken Walker

Ken WalkerKen Walker was born in Saskatchewan in the middle of the last century, and has conducted a general practice in Kamloops since his call to the BC bar in 1974. With an emphasis on criminal defence, some civil litigation and a solicitor’s component, Ken practises with his son, Kevin, under the firm name of Wozniak and Walker.

Elected by the Benchers to the 2012 Executive Committee, Ken currently chairs the Credentials Committee, and is a member of the Complainants’ Review Committee and Lawyer Education Advisory Committee. First elected a Bencher in 2007, he has served previously on the Credentials, Discipline, Ethics and Finance Committees, the Act and Rules Subcommittee, the Small Firm Task Force, and as Chair of the Adjudication / Prosecution Task Force.

Ken notes the significant work of the Adjudication / Prosecution Task Force in 2010:

“This task force recommended a new hearing panel composition that includes public participation. The Benchers unanimously resolved to try this new system for three years and then review it. This new panel composition has received approval from the public and the press, and is an important step towards separation of the Benchers’ adjudicative and regulatory roles. We should be prepared to embrace change on principle, but with recognition of our successful traditions.”

An active contributor to the Kamloops legal community, Ken meets regularly with local articled students to discuss issues on the current Bencher meeting agenda. He enjoys golfing, squash, skiing and cycling, and travelling with his wife of 40 years, Shirley Walker.


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 Finance Committee’s presentation to the Benchers 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 Code of Professional Conduct for BC, and the implementation of an organization-wide electronic document and records management system.

Based on current economic conditions, the trust administration fee revenue for 2013 is projected to be sufficient to cover the cost of the TAF-funded programs, with no increase to the current TAF 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 keeping 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. The impact of the recession on claims frequency continues to be felt and the economic downturn has generated increased claims activity, but 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).

For more financial information

If you have questions about the 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 at 1.800.903.5300) or email at jmcphee@lsbc.org.

Resolutions

Resolution 1: Appointment of Law Society auditors, submitted by the Audit Committee

BE IT RESOLVED that PricewaterhouseCoopers be appointed as the Law Society auditors for the year ending December 31, 2012.

Resolution 2: Member resolution calling on the Law Society to research the feasibility of creating a class of membership for non-profit lawyers with a reduced rate of practice fees

The Law Society Rules permit any two members in good standing to submit a resolution for consideration at the Annual General Meeting.

We, Scott Bernstein, Katrina Pacey and Douglas King, members in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia, propose the following resolution to be presented at and voted upon at the 2012 Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of British Columbia:

Whereas, the Law Society membership encourages the practice of law in not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations, and recognizes that these lawyers provide valuable legal services that address needs unmet by the private sector;

And whereas, non-profit lawyers and non-governmental organizations practising law contribute to the positive image of lawyers in British Columbia, provide opportunities for lawyers in private practice to engage in high-profile pro bono work at all levels of court, increase access to justice to the public, and provide opportunities for law students to intern and volunteer;

And whereas, lawyers in not-for-profit organizations are paid wages below the average market rates for private practice lawyers with equivalent experience;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Law Society membership direct the Law Society to research the feasibility of creating a class of membership for non-profit lawyers with a reduced rate of practice fees, and to present to the membership within six months information about the feasibility of such a class of membership.

 

Message from the Benchers regarding Resolution 2:

The resolution submitted by Mr. Bernstein, Ms. Pacey and Mr. King for consideration by the members at the Annual General Meeting proposes that the Law Society research the feasibility of creating a class of membership for non-profit lawyers with a reduced rate of practice fees.

The Benchers set the annual practice fee with the overall objective of ensuring 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. The reputation of the entire profession depends upon the Law Society effectively fulfilling that mandate.

While recognizing the value that lawyers employed by non-governmental organizations provide in delivering pro bono legal services, the Benchers also recognize that more than 6,000 practising members reported contributing an average of 37 hours of pro bono legal services last year. A reduced practice fee for any particular group of lawyers will have financial implications for the Law Society. As such, if the resolution were to pass, the question for consideration would not only be the feasibility of creating a separate class of membership for non-profit lawyers, but also whether other practising lawyers should pay a higher annual practice fee to subsidize reduced fees for a class of membership for non-profit lawyers.

 

 


2012 Annual General Meeting locations

Please RSVP to the email address beside the location you plan to attend.
If sending an RSVP for others in your office as well, note the number in your email.

RSVP deadline is Friday, September 14, 2012

City/town

Location

RSVP by email to:

Vancouver

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

vancouver@lsbc.org

Abbotsford

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

abbotsford@lsbc.org

Castlegar

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

castlegar@lsbc.org

Dawson Creek

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

dawson_creek@lsbc.org

Kamloops

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

kamloops@lsbc.org

Kelowna

The Coast Capri Hotel, Vineyard Room 4
1171 Harvey Avenue, Kelowna, BC V1Y 6E8

kelowna@lsbc.org

Nanaimo

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

nanaimo@lsbc.org

Prince George

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

prince_george@lsbc.org

Prince Rupert

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

prince_rupert@lsbc.org

Smithers

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

smithers@lsbc.org

Terrace

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

terrace@lsbc.org

Victoria

Hotel Grand Pacific, Pender Island Ballroom 
463 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC V8V 1X3

victoria@lsbc.org