E-Brief: December 2015
BC Supreme Court issues TWU v. Law Society of BC decision
On December 10, BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson issued his decision in Trinity Western University (TWU) v. Law Society of BC. TWU had sought a judicial review of the Law Society's October 2014 decision not to approve its proposed law school for the purpose of the Law Society's admission program. Chief Justice Hinkson found that the Law Society inappropriately fettered its discretion and, as a result, the Chief Justice quashed the October decision that had disapproved of the proposed law school and restored the Benchers' April 2014 decision. As a result, the proposed law school is currently approved for the purposes of the Law Society's admission program. The Law Society is reviewing the decision and considering next steps.
All lawyers are encouraged to read the Truth and Reconciliation report
At their October meeting, the Benchers recognized the importance of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and urged all lawyers in British Columbia to read the executive summary of the Commission's report. While the Law Society continues to develop a long-term action plan in consultation with Indigenous peoples, reading the report and the calls to action will help lawyers to reflect on the role of the legal profession in reconciliation and how they can better serve Indigenous clients in British Columbia.
Bencher election results
Elections for Benchers for the 2016-2017 term concluded on November 16. Six Benchers were elected for the first time and 16 were re-elected (three by acclamation). Members had previously elected David Crossin, QC, as president; Herman Van Ommen, QC, as first vice-president; and Miriam Kresivo, QC, as second vice-president. All three continue as Benchers for their district by virtue of their executive office. Satwinder Bains and Claude Richmond were reappointed and John Mark Rushton, Carolynn Marie Ryan and John Sherwood Hayes were appointed as Benchers by Order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. A list of elected Benchers is available here. Orders in council 700 to 704 are available here.
Law firm regulation survey deadline extended
Individual lawyers and law firms have until tomorrow (December 15) to complete the Law Society's online survey seeking input on law firm regulation. Making law firm regulation a reality is part of the Law Society's Strategic Plan 2015-2017, and the task force is seeking input from the profession.
BC Code changes: designated paralegals acting in family matters
At their December meeting, the Benchers approved amendments to the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia so that, with a supervising lawyer's permission, designated paralegals may represent clients at family law mediations. Also, guidance is provided to supervising lawyers, including on recognizing family violence and giving legal advice. For details, see the Highlights of amendments.
Law Society Rules changes: electronic voting and general meeting notice
Also at the December meeting, the Benchers amended the Law Society Rules so that electronic voting is now permitted in Bencher elections and referenda. Further, notices of general meetings may be distributed electronically and appointed Benchers may attend and speak at general meetings. For details, see the Highlights of amendments.
Practice advice: holiday coverage and scammers
Plan how your practice will be covered if you will be away on holidays. Arrange for a competent lawyer to supervise your practice and provide information to the lawyer and your staff about how you can be contacted if required. Your non-lawyer staff should not be left without proper supervision (see BC Code, Chapter 6). Also, keep in mind that scammers may try to take advantage of fewer staff working during the holidays. Maintain an awareness of the different scam scenarios, including the bad cheque scam. Some scams, for instance, have recently included cheques purportedly from real law firms. Also be vigilant about the Law Society's client identification and no-cash rules. If you have questions, contact a practice advisor.
2015 updates to the Practice Checklists Manual
See the updated Practice Checklists Manual for 41 checklists aimed at helping lawyers manage files and carry out professional obligations. The Highlights describe some of the changes made in the checklists, reflecting statutory changes, new case law and changes in professional obligations.
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