E-Brief: June 2013

Law Society launches Aboriginal mentorship program

Coinciding with National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the Law Society launched a new program to help retain and advance Aboriginal lawyers in BC. The Aboriginal Lawyers Mentorship Program, the first of its kind in North America, is a partnership between the Law Society, the Indigenous Bar Association and the CBABC Branch's Aboriginal Lawyers Forum. The program will pair experienced lawyers with less experienced Aboriginal lawyers. The Law Society is now recruiting mentors for the program, which is eligible for continuing professional development credit. Interested lawyers should download the application form, or contact Andrea Hilland at ahilland@lsbc.org or 604 443-5727.

Law Society recruiting fee mediators

The Law Society is recruiting mediators for the Fee Mediation Program. The program is a free, informal process to efficiently deal with fee disputes over amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The program relies on a roster of qualified mediators and the Law Society is seeking lawyers to take part. Interested lawyers should contact Lynne Knights, at lknights@lsbc.org. Applicants should send an expression of interest including a summary of experience in mediation. For more information, see the article in the latest issue of the Benchers' Bulletin.

Annual Bencher retreat looks at business of law in 21st century

At their annual retreat in June, the Benchers explored the topic, "The business of law in the 21st century: Do we risk losing (or can we maintain) our professional values?" Discussion focused on emerging issues in the legal profession including alternative business structures, access to justice and the influence of technology on the delivery of legal services. Guest speakers included Malcolm M. Mercer, a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and Jordan Furlong, an Ottawa lawyer and consultant with Edge International. Chief Justice of British Columbia Robert Bauman also spoke to the Benchers. He addressed a number of issues including the importance of access to justice, and the importance of protecting the independence of the judiciary and the bar. The 2013 retreat was held in Tofino.

Benchers approve governance recommendations

At their June meeting, the Benchers approved a number of governance recommendations contained in the Governance Committee's mid-year report. Among the approved recommendations were the terms of reference for the newly constituted Governance Committee, as well as the Executive Committee. For more, see Tab 4 of the June Bencher agenda.

Temporary mobility for foreign lawyers

The Benchers adopted a temporary mobility scheme for foreign lawyers at the June meeting. It is similar to that for Canadian lawyers from other jurisdictions under the National Mobility Agreement. However, the time limit for practice of foreign law without a permit is 30 business days, as opposed to 100 business days for Canadian lawyers under the mobility agreement. More information is available here.

Online version of BC Code includes annotations

Lawyers should know the online version of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia includes annotations. The annotations are intended to inform lawyers and the public about select decisions and opinions relevant to various rules in the Code. Where rules in the BC Code are similar to those in its predecessor, the Professional Conduct Handbook, the annotations in the Handbook have been preserved under the relevant rule in the BC Code. For more, including a link to the BC Code, see the website.

Date for new wills and estates legislation

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) and its related probate rules will come into force March 31, 2014. Lawyers who practise in wills and estates will want to familiarize themselves with the new legislation and rules before they come into effect, including the shift in the onus of proof in relation to undue influence. Lawyers and any others who practise in an area in which undue influence may be alleged will want to read this Lawyers Insurance Fund article for more information, including details of a free best-practices guide and reference aid.

2013 Law Society workshop assists journalists with legal reporting

The Law Society's annual Law and the Media Workshop was held May 29 in Vancouver. The event is a panel discussion examining the relationship between journalism and the legal system, in addition to the latest developments in defamation and media law. More than 50 journalists and editorial staff from newsrooms across Metro Vancouver attended the 2013 workshop, entitled "Major crimes and mega trials: reporting on police, criminals and the courts in the 21st century." More information, including a video of the event, is available on the Law Society website.  

2012 financial statements online

The Law Society's 2012 audited financial statements are now available online.

From the courts

The BC Court of Appeal issued the following announcements:
Criminal Practice Note - Criminal Transcripts
Civil and Criminal Practice Directive - Citation of Authorities
Civil Practice Directive - Costs

The Supreme Court of BC has issued the following announcement regarding amendments to the Supreme Court Rules in effect on July 1:
Hearing Records Required for Registrars' Hearings

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