E-Brief: February 2013

Registration still open for free session on the BC Code: Part II

With the Code of Professional Conduct for BC now in effect, the Law Society and Continuing Legal Education Society of BC are offering a second free course to help educate lawyers about the code. The course, New Code of Professional Conduct: Part II, is offered February 6 and repeated on February 12. It will focus on the relationship between lawyers and the Law Society, the justice system and others under the BC Code, as well as the business of law. Registration information is available on the CLEBC website and the course is eligible for CPD credit.

Billing for disbursements and "other charges" under the BC Code

Section 3.6 of the BC Code sets out new requirements regarding fees and disbursements. These requirements include changes to what may be charged as disbursements and "other charges." A lawyer may charge as disbursements only those amounts that have been paid or are required to be paid to a third party on a client's behalf. Charges such as paralegal fees, in-house photocopying and faxing that are not disbursements must be treated differently. For more information, see Practice Watch in the winter edition of Benchers' Bulletin. A sample retainer agreement is available on the Law Society website.

Retired and non-practising lawyers as designated paralegals

At the January meeting, the Benchers added a provision to rule 2-4.2 of the Law Society Rules. This allows retired and non-practising lawyers to work as designated paralegals, under the supervision of a practising lawyer, despite their undertaking not to practise law. For more, see the January Benchers meeting agenda.

Returning to the PST

Lawyers should be aware BC is transitioning back to the Provincial Sales Tax on April 1, 2013. The Law Society will post information on the website to assist lawyers with the transition. In the meantime, lawyers with specific questions are asked to email them to Law Society Practice Advisor Dave Bilinsky at daveb@lsbc.org.

Information required for paralegals appearing in Provincial Court

Designated paralegals making appearances in BC Provincial Court as part of the family law pilot project are required to bring an information sheet on each appearance and present it to the court when the case is spoken to. A downloadable copy of the information sheet is available on the Law Society website. Paralegals should fill out the first portion of the form, and the presiding judge will complete the rest and provide it to a judicial secretary for transmission to the Office of the Chief Judge. More information about the Law Society's paralegals initiative and the pilot project with the courts is available on the website.

Cloud computing checklist now available

Lawyers and law firms considering cloud computing should consult the Law Society's new cloud computing checklist. While cloud computing offers an array of benefits, there are also risks when a lawyer stores data with a third party, including security, privacy and regulatory compliance. The cloud computing checklist details some of the issues lawyers and law firms should consider before moving data into the cloud.

Changes made to Maternity Leave Benefit Program

The Law Society has made changes to the Maternity Leave Benefit Program. The program is intended to assist self-employed women lawyers remain in practice by providing interest-free loans to assist with overhead costs during maternity leave. Loan recipients are no longer required to have non-practising status during the loan period, and may instead practise up to one day per week. More information about the program is available on the Law Society website.

Another step taken towards national admission standards

At the January meeting, the Benchers approved the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's National Entry-Level Practice Competency Profile. The profile details the proposed competencies required for entry to the legal profession. The next phase of the project will focus on developing a national approach to implementation of the standards. More information is available on the Federation's website.

Aboriginal scholarship application deadline is March 15

Aboriginal graduate students studying law may apply for a $12,000 scholarship from the Law Society. The Aboriginal Scholarship, to be offered annually, is to support the development of Indigenous role models in the legal academic community as part of the Law Society's overall objective of improving retention of aboriginal lawyers in the legal profession. See the website for more information.

From the courts

The BC Supreme Court has issued several new Practice Directions:

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