E-Brief: December 2013

Benchers approve recommendations on future of legal services regulation

At their December meeting, the Benchers voted unanimously to approve in principle three recommendations that could transform the regulation and delivery of legal services in BC. The Legal Service Providers Task Force recommended that (1) the Law Society and Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia merge regulatory operations; (2) the Law Society certify paralegals who meet specific requirements that will be established by the Law Society; and (3) the Law Society develop a regulatory framework to credential and regulate legal service providers other than lawyers and notaries. Though details of the proposals will need to be developed in consultation with the notaries, paralegal organizations, government and others, approval of the recommendations in principle was an important first step. Read the task force's final report here.

Benchers to begin a new, two-year term starting January 1, 2014

A general election for Benchers of the Law Society was held on November 15, 2013. Twenty-two Benchers were elected in eight electoral districts. Ten Benchers were elected for the first time and 12 others were re-elected. In total, 4,395 valid ballots were cast out of a total of 11,712 eligible ballots, representing a 38 per cent voter turnout. The elected Benchers will join the president, first vice-president and second vice-president, and six Appointed Benchers, beginning January 1, 2014. Full Bencher election results are available on the website.

2014 Bencher executive committee named

The Benchers have elected the members of the Law Society's Executive Committee for 2014. Miriam Kresivo, QC, Nancy Merrill and Herman Van Ommen, QC will join President Jan Lindsay, QC, First Vice-President Ken Walker, QC and Second Vice-President David Crossin, QC on the Executive Committee. Hayden Acheson will represent the Appointed Benchers on the committee. The responsibilities of the Executive Committee include assisting the Benchers and the executive director in establishing priorities for the assignment of Society financial, staff and volunteer resources, as well as planning Bencher meetings.

Cryptolocker ransomware alert

The Law Society is warning of a computer virus called Cryptolocker ransomware after two BC law firms were infected. The virus is installed on a computer by opening an infected email attachment, watching an infected video file or plugging an infected USB flash drive into a computer. Cryptolocker encrypts files and can lock an entire computer network while demanding a ransom to unlock the system. For more information on how to protect against Cryptolocker and other computer threats, see the Law Society website.

Trust Administration Fee to increase on January 1, 2014

Lawyers who handle trust account transactions are reminded the Benchers approved an increase in the Trust Administration Fee (TAF) from $10 to $15 per applicable transaction, effective January 1, 2014. TAF applies to a variety of client matters, one of the largest being those in the area of real estate. TAF revenue has steadily decreased from 2005, generally following the trend line of BC real estate unit sales. In order to continue funding the Trust Assurance Program, the TAF must be increased. This is the first fee increase since it was introduced in March 2005.

Law Society Bencher, CEO among new QC appointments

Law Society Bencher Bill Maclagan and CEO Tim McGee are among the 32 lawyers who have been recognized with appointments as Queen's Counsel. Also on the list is past-president of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, Kerry Simmons. Congratulations to all of this year's QC recipients. The full list is available on the government website.

Law Society on social media

Lawyers and members of the public are invited to keep up to date on Law Society news and events through social media. Follow us on Twitter @LawSocietyofBC, on YouTube at LawSocietyofBC and on our new LinkedIn account.

From the courts

The dates when the Court of Appeal is sitting in Victoria are now published on the website.


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