E-Brief: July 2015

BC Code change: Lawyers' notification obligations on withdrawal

At their July 2015 meeting, the Benchers amended rule 3.7-9 of the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia. The change requires that a lawyer promptly notify the client, other counsel and the court or tribunal of the lawyer's withdrawal from a file.

Electronic communications for annual general meetings and Bencher elections

Also at their July meeting, the Benchers discussed using electronic voting for Bencher elections, webcasting of and electronic voting at general meetings (annual general meetings and special general meetings), and electronic distribution of the material for general meetings. They resolved to put a motion before the membership at the 2015 Annual General Meeting permitting the Benchers to amend the Rules to provide for electronic communications for general meetings.

Articled students permitted to act as commissioners under Evidence Act

Regulation 142/2015 comes into effect September 1, 2015. It prescribes articled students and temporary articled students as persons who are commissioners for taking affidavits in British Columbia, pursuant to s. 60(l). By virtue of this Regulation, students will be able to do all the things that lawyers may do acting as a commissioner for taking oaths. Principals will need to ensure that students understand the effect of acting as commissioner, and principals remain responsible for students' actions.

Discussions continue on possible regulatory merger with the Notaries Society

The Benchers received reports from the two working groups assigned to consider aspects of a possible regulatory merger between the Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of BC. The working groups are examining educational and experiential requirements and issues of governance. The Benchers will continue their consideration of the possible merger at their September meeting.

Mid-year report: New ideas for improving access to justice

The Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee presented its mid-year report to the Benchers. After a review of the Manitoba Family Justice Program, the committee advised the Benchers that they had concluded this model would not work in BC. The committee also reported on the merits of encouraging retired lawyers and judges to offer pro bono services and how to support improved access to justice for BC Aboriginal people.

Mid-year report: Diversity in the practice of law

The Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee monitors and develops effective equity and diversity in the legal profession and the justice system in BC. Three areas of particular emphasis include Aboriginal lawyers, women lawyers and the overall diversity of the profession. The committee reported that it is looking to meet with BC law schools to create more opportunities for Aboriginal lawyers and to discuss implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Report recommendations.

Mid-year report: Sharing a fundamental principle of Canadian democracy

The Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee reported it is planning to engage the public on the concept of the rule of law through a series of articles and other public-facing initiatives.

Mid-year report: Reviewing the education process for new lawyers

The Lawyer Education Advisory Committee reported on the work it is doing to review the articling process and PLTC. The findings from a survey of lawyers with two to three years of call supported the conclusion that PLTC is a positive experience. The committee continues to research the effectiveness of the program.

Research grants available

BC lawyers are invited to apply for research grants from the Law Foundation by submitting a letter of intent before September 11, 2015. The Law Foundation makes $100,000 available annually for legal research. More information can be found here.

Trinity Western University (TWU) update

The Ontario Divisional Court dismissed TWU's application for judicial review of the Law Society of Upper Canada's decision to deny accreditation of TWU's proposed law school. As a reminder, TWU's petition against the Law Society of BC will be heard next month. TWU has filed its written argument with the court and the document and further information on TWU's proposed law school are available here. Chief Justice Hinkson will hear the case, which is set for five days commencing August 24.

New LTSA fee listings coming November 2015

The Land Title and Survey Authority of BC (LTSA) is implementing new fee listings for its land title and survey services, coming into effect in early November 2015. A preview of the new fee listing is available for download here with answers to frequently asked questions here. For more information, contact LTSA at 1.877.577.LTSA (5872).

Reminder: Important PLTC registration information for 2016

Does your firm plan to hire an articled student to start in 2016? The location and time of PLTC is always an important consideration for firms and students. There are critical application deadlines to secure the best chance of your student attending the PLTC session of choice. You can find out more about the deadlines and process here.

Reminder: Revised and consolidated Law Society Rules now in effect

Revised and consolidated Law Society Rules came into effect on July 1, 2015. The revisions re-number the rules, eliminate decimal numbering, update and add marginal notes to cross-references to aid recognition, and ensure consistency and economy of language, among other changes. See Law Society Rules 2015.

From the courts

Amendments to the Supreme Court Civil Rules and Family Forms came into effect on July 1, 2015.  

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