E-Brief: December 2012

BC Code takes effect January 1, 2013

At the December meeting, the Benchers approved several revisions to the Code of Professional Conduct for BC, which comes into effect January 1, 2013, replacing the Professional Conduct Handbook. The Law Society and Continuing Legal Education Society of BC are offering free education on the new BC Code. The interactive, 90-minute courses will be streamed online and can be used as Continuing Professional Development credits. Part one is offered January 15 and will be repeated on January 29. The second part is offered February 6 and repeated on February 12.

Designated paralegals pilot project begins next month

As of January 1, 2013 designated paralegals can begin to make limited appearances in court to deal with certain procedural applications in family law. The pilot project is in addition to regulatory changes effective July 2012 that permit designated paralegals, working under the supervision of a lawyer, to provide legal advice in any area of law directly to clients. More information, including a list of applications designated paralegals can speak to, the information to be presented in an affidavit on first appearance and a list of participating court registries, is available on the Law Society website.

Questions about returning to PST?

British Columbia will return to the provincial sales tax on April 1, 2013. The Law Society will provide lawyers with assistance regarding the transition. Information will be posted in the practice support and resources section of the Law Society's website. In the meantime, lawyers with questions about transitioning back to the PST should contact Law Society Practice Advisor Dave Bilinsky at dbilinsky@lsbc.org

Amendments to the Legal Profession Act

In response to a request from the Law Society, the Lieutenant Governor in Council has proclaimed in effect January 1, 2013 several more amendments to the Legal Profession Act. The sections affected by the proclamation include: 1 (1) definitions "conduct unbecoming a lawyer" and "review board," as well as s. 46 (1), costs. Also proclaimed in effect January 1 is the repeal of s. 31 of the Legal Profession Act and enactment of s. 50 of the Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012 dealing with the closing out of the Special Compensation Fund. See the online Member's Manual.

Justicia Project now underway

The Law Society's initiative to retain and advance women lawyers in private practice is now underway in BC. The Justicia Project, originally developed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, kicked off November 20 with a managing partners lunch at the Vancouver office of Gowlings, which is spearheading the project. The lunch was well attended by the managing partners of national law firms with offices in BC, as well as some of the other large regional firms. To date, nine firms have committed to the project, with others considering. Questions should be directed to Michael Lucas, Manager of Policy and Legal Services at MLucas@lsbc.org.

New Bencher in Kootenay county

Lynal E. Doerksen is the Law Society's newest Bencher, taking up his seat at the Bencher table beginning January 1, 2013. Doerksen was elected in a November by-election as Bruce LeRose, QC completes his term as President and his final term as Bencher for Kootenay county. Doerksen was called to the bar in Alberta in 1990 and BC in 2005. He is currently a crown prosecutor in Cranbrook.

To the bench!

Congratulations to the Law Society's Andrea Brownstone, who has been appointed to the Provincial Court of BC. Brownstone, the Law Society's manager of investigations, monitoring and enforcement, was called to the bar in Ontario and Alberta before being called in BC in 1987. She practised as a litigator until joining the Law Society in 2005 as a Professional Conduct lawyer. Brownstone's judicial appointment is effective January 2, 2013. Also appointed to the bench is Life Bencher William Jackson, QC. Jackson's appointment is effective December 17, 2012. See the government's news release.

Queen's counsel designations announced

Congratulations to Benchers Kenneth M. Walker, QC and Herman Van Ommen, QC. Both earned Queen's counsel designations this month, which were announced by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond. The QC designation is an honour that recognizes the exceptional merit and contribution of a member of the legal profession. Twenty-eight other lawyers also received the distinction. See the government's news release.

Retirement dinner for the Chief Justice

Chief Justice Lance Finch is retiring from the BC Court of Appeal. Finch graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from UBC in 1962. He practised with a Vancouver firm for 20 years, served as a trial judge of the BC Supreme Court beginning in 1983, the Court of Appeal in 1993, and became Chief Justice of BC in 2001. UBC Law is marking the occasion of his retirement with a dinner at the Westin Bayshore Hotel on June 6, 2013. Tickets are available here.

From the courts

The Supreme Court of BC has issued a Criminal Practice Direction regarding the criminal pre-trial conference process. The Practice Direction expands the Criminal Pre-Trial Conference Project to all Supreme Court registries. More information is available on the court's website.


To keep up to date with Law Society news and events, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS feeds.

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