E-Brief: November 2012

New task force announced to study the future of legal regulation

At the October 26 Bencher meeting, President Bruce LeRose, QC announced the members of the Legal Service Providers Task Force. The new task force will examine whether it is in the public interest that non-lawyer legal service providers be regulated, and whether the Law Society should be that regulator. The task force, chaired by LeRose, has been created in anticipation of continued change in the legal marketplace due to an expanding range of legal service providers, technology and other factors. Also represented on the task force is Bencher Ken Walker, Appointed Bencher Satwinder Bains, Society of Notaries Public of BC President John Eastwood, BC Paralegal Association Director Carmen Marolla, Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC) President Kerry Simmons, and Land Title and Survey Authority President and CEO Godfrey Archbold. The task force will hold its first meeting in November and plans to deliver a final report in 2013.

Provincial Court signs on to paralegal pilot project

The Provincial Court has joined the Supreme Court in agreeing to participate in the Law Society's pilot project that will evaluate the opportunity for designated paralegals to have a limited right of audience in certain matters in family law proceedings. The courts will conduct their own evaluation of the change while the Paralegal Pilot Project Working Group has drafted guidelines to help the Law Society gauge the effectiveness of the new regulations governing lawyers who supervise designated paralegals. The evaluation process will happen in two streams. The first will measure cost savings and client satisfaction, and the second stream will track the level of competency with which designated paralegal services were provided. At the end of the two-year pilot project, the Law Society and the courts, will examine whether to continue, expand or amend the reforms. For more information, see the memo from the Paralegal Pilot Project Working Group in the October 26 Bencher Meeting Agenda.

CLEBC offering course on the evolving role of paralegals

The Continuing Legal Education Society of BC (CLEBC) is holding a course and webinar on November 30, examining the paralegal reforms. Chaired by Bencher Richard Stewart, QC and Life Bencher Carol Hickman, QC, the course is designed for designated paralegals and supervising lawyers. It will give participants an overview of the new regulations that allow designated paralegals to give legal advice and appear in court, as well as best-practice tips on working within the new regulatory framework.

Launch date set for Justicia Project

The Justicia Project will launch in BC on November 20, 2012. The project was designed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to identify best practices to retain and promote women lawyers in private practice. In BC, the initiative is part of the Law Society's strategic plan to improve the retention rate of women lawyers. On behalf of the Law Society, Gowlings will introduce the first phase of the project with a managing partners' summit on November 20, focused on national firms with offices in BC and large regional firms. Participating law firms will commit to several goals, including tracking gender demographics and adopting initiatives to foster women's networking and business development. Questions should be directed to Michael Lucas, Manager of Policy and Legal Services at MLucas@lsbc.org.

Law Society and CLEBC team up to offer CLE-TV program on new BC Code

The Law Society is partnering with CLEBC to offer free education for lawyers on the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. The BC Code comes into effect January 1, 2013, replacing the Professional Conduct Handbook. While the details are still being finalized, the plan is to offer the program beginning in the second half of January. It will be broken down into two parts of approximately 75 minutes each, streamed online and shown on separate days. Each part will be broadcast twice with a live Q and A. More detail will be available in the coming weeks. Read the BC Code.

New working group to assess opportunities to support lawyer wellness

Through the Law Society strategic plan, the Benchers have identified the need to ensure programs are available to assist lawyers with regulatory and workplace changes. To that end, the Practice Standards Committee has established a working group mandated to gather information on current wellness programs, to identify and eliminate barriers to lawyers using wellness programs, and to report back to the Practice Standards Committee with recommendations for the future. The working group is chaired by Bencher Catherine Sas, QC who is joined by Bencher Bill Maclagan, Appointed Bencher Peter Lloyd and Paula Cayley, former president of the employee assistance agency Interlock Corporation and a member of the Law Society's public hearing panel pool.

June 1, 2013 effective date for new Limitation Act

The new Limitation Act will come into force June 1, 2013. Lawyers can continue to rely on the current Act's limitation periods to advise clients on pre-existing claims discovered before June 1, 2013. However, the new Act contains transition rules that will govern pre-existing claims arising from acts or omissions that occurred prior to the effective date, and discovered on and after June 1, 2013. Lawyers will want to familiarize themselves with the new legislation before it comes into effect so they can properly advise clients about future claims. The CBABC has a webcast available, and CLEBC will be offering training and resources. Details of the new Act, including transition information, will be available shortly at www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/limitation-act/2012.htm.

Kootenay Bencher by-election to be held

On November 15, 2012, a Bencher by-election will be held for the County of Kootenay to elect a Bencher for a one-year term, beginning January 1, 2013. Nominations of candidates closed October 15, 2012. The by-election comes as Bruce LeRose, QC completes his term as president and his final term as a Bencher. By-election voting packages have been mailed to lawyers on the County of Kootenay voter list, and candidates' biographical summaries and election statements are available on the Law Society website.

Member resolution adopted at annual general meeting

Bencher Ken Walker of Kamloops was acclaimed second-vice president for 2013 at the Law Society's annual general meeting on September 25, attended by 218 lawyers and five articled students. Walker will serve as president in 2015. Also at the meeting, a member resolution was adopted that called on the Law Society to research the feasibility of creating a class of membership, with reduced practice fees, for non-profit lawyers. It was adopted by a vote of 85:75. The meeting was also informed that the Benchers had set the practice fee for 2013 at $1,893.06, an increase of $52.65 over 2012. The insurance fee remains the same at $1,750. For more information, see the Notice to the Profession.

Tickets now available for Bench and Bar dinner

The 2012 Bench and Bar dinner will take place November 8 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The dinner will honour Life Bencher Marvin Storrow, QC, who will receive the Law Society Award. Tickets are available.

From the courts

Following a pilot project on e-filing, the BC Court of Appeal is now inviting all lawyers to file their court documents electronically through Court Services Online. BC now has all three levels of court participating in the e-filing system. See the Ministry of Justice news release.

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