Towards national standards for disciplinary regulation
Pilot project to test key standards across the country
by Timothy E. McGee
The Law Society of BC is participating in a pilot program designed to test a uniform approach to standards for disciplinary regulation.
The pilot project reflects the priority the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has placed on standardizing the regulatory framework for all lawyers across the country.
The reason for this is simple. Mobility agreements between the provinces and territories allow lawyers in Canada to be “mobile,” that is, once called in one jurisdiction they are free to practise in any other, subject to certain conditions and to specific limitations particular to the civil law regime in Quebec. With this freedom of mobility comes a corresponding public expectation that, no matter where you retain the services of a lawyer in Canada, you can expect the same uniformly high standard of regulation should you need to file a complaint about a lawyer’s professional or ethical conduct.
All law societies, with the exception of the Chambre des Notaires du Québec, are participating in the project. For the next two years, they will monitor and measure their performance against 23 key standards relating to timeliness, fairness, transparency, and public participation and accessibility in matters dealing with complaints about, and discipline of, members of the legal profession.
The pilot project, which was launched earlier this year, is the first of its kind for law regulators in Canada. The goal is to test the standards to be met.
In addition to establishing appropriate timelines for investigations, citations and hearings, the standards also provide for greater transparency and accessibility of information. For example, each law society must have a lawyer directory available with status information, including discipline history and information on how to access more about that history.
The Law Society is proud to be a leader among Canadian law societies in setting, publishing and reporting on performance standards we set for all of the regulatory work we do in the public interest. The national discipline standards pilot project is a natural extension of this approach and we look forward to its success.
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