I urge lawyers throughout the province to take part in the consultation currently underway on law firm regulation. Over the next few weeks Law Firm Regulation Task Force chair Herman Van Ommen, QC, will visit 10 cities in BC to gather input from the profession. The meetings provide an opportunity for discussion on this important topic.

Lawyers provide the critical underpinning to our rule of law. Our Canons of Legal Ethics make this quite clear: “A lawyer is a minister of justice, an officer of the courts, a client’s advocate and a member of an ancient honourable, and learned profession.”

The purpose of our regulatory task is to serve and protect the public interest by ensuring there is access to competent, ethical and independent lawyers.

Under the proposed model, firms will bear some responsibility in this regard. For example, firms would be required to have systems in place so that lawyers do not find themselves in a conflict of interest, and protocols in place to ensure an appropriate framework for monitoring and resolving issues relating to privacy and confidentiality. Effective systems and protocols in this regard are intended to be preventative, and to serve to facilitate early intervention so as to avoid pitfalls. The Law Society would not prescribe what those systems or protocols would look like, but would leave it to each firm to devise a system that suits its unique circumstances. It is a model that champions proactive steps. It is a model for the sharing of responsibility to promote more effective and efficient protection for our members and the public we serve.

I encourage lawyers to join one of the consultation sessions. The dates and locations for those meetings are available here.