E-Brief: July 2013

Lawyers invited to participate in survey regarding lawyer wellness programs

The Law Society supports several programs to promote the health and wellness of lawyers and their families. A brief, on-line survey is now underway, designed to improve the uptake of these programs and maximize their benefits. All lawyers are encouraged to complete the survey, which is being conducted by a third party and is both anonymous and confidential. Read more and complete the survey.

Law Society comments on Supreme Court clarification of "bright line" rule

The Law Society has provided direction to lawyers who are asked to act against the interests of a current client. This comes in the wake of the recently released decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP, 2013 SCC 39), an important judgment clarifying the ongoing applicability of the "bright line" rule prohibiting a lawyer from acting against the immediate legal interests of a current client without the consent of that client. Read more...

Benchers vote to alter pro bono funding model, increase contribution

At their July meeting, the Benchers directed the Finance Committee to increase the amount provided to the Law Foundation for funding pro bono organizations and also create a new Access to Justice Fund. The recommendation changes the current 1% pro bono funding model to a fixed sum model that is subject to review based on principles adopted at the meeting. The Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee proposed an increase to $340,000 minus any in-kind funding provided to pro bono organizations. The Finance Committee will consider the direction of the Benchers in early September when making its recommendation to the Benchers on the amount of the 2014 annual fee. For more information, see item three in the July Bencher meeting agenda.

2013 Bencher general election

There will be a general Bencher election on November 15, 2013. Benchers elected will serve a two-year term commencing January 1, 2014. In total, 22 Benchers will be elected. Seven current Benchers are not eligible for re-election having served the maximum number of terms, which means a minimum of seven new Benchers will be elected, including four in Vancouver County, two in Victoria County and one in Westminster County. A call for nominations will be sent to the profession in August and nomination forms will be available on the website. Nominations must be received by the Law Society no later than October 15. The Law Society supports equity, diversity and inclusiveness and encourages Aboriginal lawyers, solicitors, visible minority lawyers, women lawyers and young lawyers to seek election as a Bencher. For more on Bencher elections, see the website.

Law Society awards two scholarships

The Law Society has awarded two annual scholarships. The 2013 Aboriginal Scholarship was awarded to Robert Clifford, who obtained a law degree from the University of Victoria. Currently enrolled in the LL.M. program at UVic, Clifford is studying a large fuel spill near Goldstream River on Vancouver Island and examining how monitoring and remediation activities could benefit from a more central engagement with Coast Salish legal traditions. The 2013 Law Society Scholarship was awarded to Kathryn Thomson. Called to the bar in 1987, Thomson is a doctoral student in law at UVic where she is studying the impact of technology on access to justice, particularly for self-represented litigants.

Interim report on the future regulation of legal services

At their July meeting, the Benchers received an interim report from the Legal Services Providers Task Force. Among other topics, the task force is examining 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 expects to consult broadly this fall with the profession and others interested in the justice system. The interim report is available in the July Bencher meeting agenda, at item two.

Pro Bono Going Public 2013

Access Pro Bono's free legal advice-a-thon will be held in September 2013 in Kamloops, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria. Access Pro Bono is currently recruiting volunteer lawyers in each location to provide free legal advice in their areas of expertise to low and modest-income individuals. The annual event, which is co-sponsored by the Law Society, is designed to increase awareness around access to justice and raise money for pro bono programs. See the advice-a-thon website for more.

July rule amendments

At their July meeting, the Benchers approved several amendments to the Rules. Among them, it is now specifically stated in the Rules that retired or non-practising members must pay a fee when applying for a practising certificate. For more, see the highlights of amendments to the rules.

From the courts

Supreme Court rule amendments: Hearing records required for registrars' hearings

Provincial Court Practice Direction 2013/001, Domestic Violence Docket (amended July 3, 2013)

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