E-Brief: September 2013

Annual general meeting on October 1

The Law Society's 2013 Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Registration starts at 11:30 am and the meeting will begin at 12:30 pm. Business of the meeting includes the election of the 2014 second vice-president, an overview of the 2014 fees and the appointment of the Law Society's auditors for 2013. The main meeting location is the Pan Pacific Vancouver, Crystal Pavilion A, 300 - 999 Canada Place. The meeting will link 13 locations via audio-conference across the province. For a complete list of locations, plus more detail about the agenda, please see the Notice to the Profession.

Benchers approve 2014 fees

The Benchers have approved the 2014 practice fee and insurance fee, as recommended by the Finance Committee. The committee based its recommendation on a thorough review of the Law Society's financial position, its statutory mandate and strategic plan. The total annual mandatory fee for practicing, insured lawyers for 2014 will be $3,690, a 1.3% increase over 2013. The practice fee will increase by $46.94 to $1,940 and the insurance assessment will remain the same at $1,750. While not a part of the practice fee, the Trust Administration Fee will also increase from $10 to $15 per transaction on January 1, 2014, the first increase since the fee came into effect in 2005. More information and a detailed breakdown and explanation of the 2014 fee are available here.

2012 Bencher expense summary posted to Law Society website

As noted in the second notice of the 2013 Annual General Meeting, the Governance Committee recommended that the Benchers publish on the Law Society website an annual summary of expenses reimbursed to 2012 Benchers. The Benchers have accepted this recommendation and have published in the member section of the Law Society website a summary of expenses reimbursed to 2012 Benchers. Lawyers can access the summary through Lawyer Login.

Nomination deadline for Bencher election is October 15

An election will be held November 15, 2013 for Benchers of the Law Society. Benchers will serve a two-year term beginning January 1, 2014 and ending December 31, 2015. Nominations of candidates for election must be received by the Law Society by 5 pm on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. All lawyers who meet the qualifications for Bencher and want to contribute to the governance of the profession are encouraged to stand for election, but Aboriginal lawyers, visible minority lawyers, women lawyers, young lawyers and those practising predominantly in solicitors' fields are particularly encouraged to do so. For more information and to download nomination forms, see the Notice to the Profession.

Correction Notice: 2013 Bencher election – call for nominations

The call for nominations posted to the Law Society website and mailed to the profession on August 26, 2013 incorrectly referred to First Vice-President Jan Lindsay, QC as a Vancouver Bencher, and incorrectly stated the number of Benchers to be elected from the County of Vancouver and by inference from Westminster County. Ms. Lindsay was last elected as a Bencher by the members of the County of Westminster, but has since moved to Vancouver. According to Law Society Rules, she remains a Westminster Bencher until she completes a term as president. More information and what this means for nominations

Benchers recommend against further development of fee reduction for lawyers working in non-profit sector

At the 2012 annual general meeting, a member resolution called on the Law Society to research the feasibility of creating a class of membership for non-profit lawyers with a reduced rate of practice fees. Based on thorough analysis by the Fee Reduction Feasibility Working Group, the Benchers have recommended against the further development of this specific class fee reduction. The potential benefits are deemed insufficient to justify the implementation of a fee reduction and would also appear to raise an issue of unfairness in the way that the Law Society treats different groups of its members. For more information and details on the working group analysis, see tab 1.9 of the September Bencher agenda.

Benchers to examine Law Society's dual role as insurer and regulator of lawyers

At their September meeting, the Benchers voted to appoint a working group of Benchers and staff to conduct a detailed examination of the proposed solutions in a report from the Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee, bearing in mind the need to provide best practices oversight and governance in the insurance portfolio. The report concluded that there are certain tensions between the Law Society's co-existing responsibilities as both regulator and insurer of lawyers, which requires consideration of corrective measures. To read the report, see item two in the September Bencher agenda.

Law Society is looking for input on future regulation of legal services

This past month, the Legal Service Provider Task Force has held public consultation sessions in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George. The joint task force has been exploring whether a single regulator of legal services is desirable and, if it is desirable, which legal service providers should be regulated, and whether it is the Law Society that should take on that regulatory function. Lawyers and other interested parties are encouraged to provide comments online until October 14, 2013. For more, see the website.

Law Society contributes to funding REAL Initiative for 2014

Once again, the Law Society will help fund the Rural Education and Access to Lawyers (REAL) Initiative. At their September meeting, the Benchers voted to contribute $50,000 to the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC) program. This matches the contributions of the CBABC and the Law Foundation of BC. The REAL Initiative seeks to address the current and projected shortage of lawyers in rural areas of the province by placing summer students and new lawyers in small, underserved communities.

Law Society updates Trust Accounting Handbook

The Trust Accounting Handbook has been extensively updated and streamlined with a new look and more information regarding cash handling, the trust administration fee and trust account reconciliations. You can download the handbook from our website or a paper copy can be requested from the Law Society at trustaccounting@lsbc.org.

Call for QC nominations

The BC Ministry of Justice is accepting nominations until October 11, 2013 for Queen’s Counsel appointments. Queen’s Counsel appointments recognize BC lawyers who have made exceptional contributions to the legal profession. For more, see the ministry website.

January 1, 2014 deadline for family law mediators, arbitrators or parenting coordinators

Lawyers previously accredited as family law mediators, or currently acting as family law arbitrators or parenting coordinators, have until January 1, 2014 to meet the new requirements set out in Law Society Rule 3-20. Lawyers who have not completed the new requirements by that date may not act as or hold themselves out as a family law mediator, family law arbitrator or parenting coordinator. Lawyers wishing to apply for accreditation must login through Lawyer Login > Family Law ADR Accreditation – Initial Request. For more information on the minimum substantive requirements see the Law Society website.

Law Society at 2013 legal advice-a-thon

Five Law Society lawyers volunteered their time at the Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey stops of Access Pro Bono's annual free legal advice-a-thon. Outdoor legal clinics were also held in Victoria and Kamloops. The event is designed to raise awareness and funds for pro bono programs in BC, and to provide free legal advice to low and modest-income people.

2013 Pacific Legal Technology Conference runs next week in Vancouver

The Law Society is once again co-sponsoring the Pacific Legal Technology Conference. The conference explores the intersection of technology and law, presenting a program based on the issues and topics that are of greatest interest to legal professionals. The event will be held on Friday, October 4 at Vancouver Convention Centre West, 1055 Canada Place. Participation in the all-day event counts for six hours of continuing professional development credit towards the practice management/ethics requirement. For more, see the conference website.

Bench & Bar Dinner, November 7

The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch and the Law Society of BC invite lawyers and judges to attend the 29th Annual Dinner for the Bench and Bar. The dinner will be held on Thursday, November 7 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver. For more information about the dinner or to purchase tickets, click here.

Madam Justice Karakatsanis to speak at BC Council of Administrative Tribunals Conference

All lawyers are invited to attend a banquet on Sunday, October 20 to hear from Supreme Court of Canada Justice Andromache Karakatsanis. Madam Justice Karakatsanis will be speaking about administrative decision-making as it relates to access to justice, as a part of the 2013 BC Council of Administrative Tribunals Conference in Richmond on October 20 and 21. Banquet registration is available here and conference registration is available here.

Job posting

The Law Society has two openings for staff lawyers on our Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement team. Information on this and other career opportunities

From the courts

Court of Appeal criminal practice directives: summary conviction appeals and forfeiture, dangerous and long term offender appeals.
Court of Appeal updated sentence appeal practice directive.
Court of Appeal practice note: correcting books that have been filed with the court.